Drumbeat: August 19, 2010

Population: The multiplier of everything else

When it comes to controversial issues, population is in a class by itself.

Advocates and activists working to reduce global population growth and size are attacked by the Left for supposedly ignoring human-rights issues, glossing over Western overconsumption, or even seeking to reduce the number of people of color. They are attacked by the Right for supposedly favoring widespread abortion, promoting promiscuity via sex education, or wanting to harm economic growth. Others think the problem has been solved, or believe that the real problem is that we have a shortage of people (the so-called “birth dearth”). Still others think the population problem will solve itself, or that technological innovations will make our numbers irrelevant.

One thing is certain: The planet and its resources are finite, and it cannot support an infinite population of humans or any other species.

A second thing is also certain: The issue of population is too important to avoid just because it is controversial.

ANALYSIS - Venezuela's PDVSA at crossroads

(Reuters) - Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA is at a crossroads: act now to salvage the skills and equipment that once made it a rival to Brazilian giant

Petrobras, or risk tipping irrevocably into the type of decline suffered by Mexico's Pemex.

So far, it appears more likely to take the same path as Pemex.

Venezuela's Heavy Crude, PDVSA Looks to Diversify, Are Regional Customers OK?

LyondellBassell's 2nd quarter conference call brought to light that PDVSA intends to replace a long-term crude supply contract with probably a year to year deal as part of Venezuela's commitment to diversify its customer base. Geology has blessed the Western Hemisphere, particularly Venezuela, with massive heavy and bitumen reserves. While economics and geopolitics drive the crude's final destination, regional abundance should leave both regional and Asian customers in good stead.

Iran fuel imports set to fall 90pc in Aug

Iran's gasoline imports for August look set to be around half those of the previous month and have plunged by almost 90 per cent from a year ago, according to Reuters calculations based on trade sources.

A new round of US and EU sanctions has very effectively choked off many potential suppliers to Iran, whose limited refining capacity means it has had to import up to 40 per cent of its gasoline needs, even though it is the fifth biggest oil exporter.

Troops out of Iraq by 2012? Don't bet on it

While violence has dipped sharply since the height of sectarian warfare from 2006-2007, Iraq remains fragile and its leaders have not resolved a number of politically explosive issues that could easily trigger renewed fighting.

The United States wants a stable, friendly Iraq, and analysts are skeptical Obama will do anything to jeopardize that.

BP accused of withholding spill data

WASHINGTON — The owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig is accusing BP of withholding critical evidence needed to identify the cause of the worst maritime oil spill in history.

In a sternly worded letter obtained by The Associated Press, Transocean says that lack of information is preventing the company from informing state and federal investigators, and the families of those killed on the rig, about what happened.

Power shortfall reaches 2,000 megawatts

ISLAMABAD - The power shortfall has reached 2000 megawatts, thus making the lives of masses more miserable even during the holy month of Ramazan as they are forced to face unscheduled loadshedding.

ANALYSIS / Plane fuel tax cut may close local airports

A transport ministry plan to halve the aircraft fuel tax could spell doom for some of Japan's regional airports.

The ministry likely will be pressed during budget negotiations to drastically review the airport improvement account, with funds earmarked for regional airport upgrades likely to be targeted for deep cuts.

Rwanda harnesses energy from exploding lake

Rwanda is centering its new energy plan on an unlikely, potentially dangerous source: Lake Kivu.

At first glance, the lake's placid blue waters appear harmless enough (shown to the right). But beneath its beautiful exterior lie huge reservoirs of methane and carbon dioxide that, if released onto the surface, would endanger the two million people living around its shores.

Armenia’s next environmental crisis?

Human logging in Armenia wipes out an estimated 750,000 cubic meters of forest coverage each year. Today only 8 percent of the country is forested. That’s down from a peak of more than 40 percent, according to the World Bank.

At the current rate of deforestation, environmentalists say desertification will take place in the next 50 years.

Out of the Loss of a Garden, Another Life Lesson

Ms. Gussow had gone back to school in 1969 to earn a doctorate in nutrition at Columbia University, at a time when nutrition was all about vitamins and chemistry, not how food was grown and where it came from. She began connecting the dots between what Americans were eating and how that food — be it factory-farmed chicken or Twinkies — was produced.

She created a legendary course, Nutritional Ecology, which she still teaches today, with a former student, Toni Liquori, who as director of School Food Focus, a nationwide program, works with school districts to buy more healthful, locally grown food.

Because Ms. Gussow dared to talk about energy use, pollution, diabetes and obesity as the true costs of food, she was initially viewed as a maverick crank, but her connections inspired the work of people like Michael Pollan, whose book “In Defense of Food,” echoes many of her revelations.

John Michael Greer: Two agricultures, not one

Talking about the future after peak oil is a challenging thing. One of the things that makes it most challenging is the extent to which so many people seem unable to imagine any way of doing things that isn’t business as usual in some lightly modified form. Last week’s post made a passing reference to this odd blinkering of our collective imagination, in the context of current worries in the peak oil blogosphere about “peak phosphorus.”

It’s true, of course, that the rapid depletion of the world’s reserves of rock phosphate, a key ingredient in chemical fertilizers, is a serious short term problem. Today’s agricultural systems depend on chemical fertilizers, and there aren’t any other abundant and highly concentrated sources of mineral phosphate available to be dumped into the intake hoppers of fertilizer factories. Still, this doesn’t mean that we’re all going to starve to death; it means that the way we produce food nowadays is not long for the world, and will be replaced by other ways of producing food that don’t depend on mass infusions of nonrenewable resources.

Record and ridicule: Female cyclists expose sexist idiots online

I told people about the time a pedestrian pulled my top down at a traffic light; they told me of people spitting at them and throwing building braces at them as they drove by. A dozen women told me they'd had their backsides slapped by drivers and passengers. I'd opened the flood gates by daring to speak out and say that enough was enough.

What surprised me was that far more men than women contacted me. They said they'd had no idea of the level of abuse women received, and that when they mentioned my site to female cyclists they opened a Pandora's Box of untapped resentment towards the sexist abuse they'd experienced over the years.

Bangladesh shuts gas filling stations for Ramadan

DHAKA (AFP) – Energy-starved Bangladesh has shut natural gas filling stations in Dhaka for six hours a day to ensure enough household fuel for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, officials said Thursday.

Bangladesh's gas supplies are massively overburdened -- with demand of 2,400 million cubic feet of per day but supply of 1,900 million cubic feet.

"We need to divert the gas to household supplies for cooking during Ramadan," said Saiful Hasan Chowdhury, Bangladesh's Power Development Board spokesman, adding that gas-guzzling fertiliser plants had also been closed.

Oil Trades Near 1-Month Low After U.S. Supplies Rise to Highest in Decades

Crude oil futures traded near their lowest level in a month on concern that the recovery is not strong enough to whittle down excessive U.S. fuel inventories.

The U.S. Energy Department report yesterday showed that total petroleum stockpiles surged to the highest level in at least 20 years. Crude futures in New York subsequently fell to $73.83 a barrel, the lowest in more than a month.

“All the macro data points to a slowdown in the growth in the second half, which would be bearish for commodities,” said Gerrit Zambo, a trader at Bayerische Landesbank in Munich. “I see a good chance to slip down to $70 in the coming weeks and months.”

Oil Futures Show 2012 U.S. Discount Disappearing on Spill

The discount on New York crude for delivery in 2012 compared with North Sea Brent may disappear as the government restricts drilling after the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Caracas to continue Iran gas export

Venezuela will continue to supply Iran with gasoline despite the threat of international sanctions.

David Velasquez, Venezuela's ambassador to Tehran, said on Thursday that his government would not be "bullied" into halting gasoline shipments.

Sudan Targeting 35% Increase in Oil Output Next Year, Energy Minister Says

Sudan hopes to increase oil production by 35 percent in 2011, as European and Arab investors show more interest in exploring for crude in Africa’s biggest country, Petroleum Minister Lual Deng said.

Sudan, the third-largest producer of crude in sub-Saharan Africa, wants to raise output to 650,000 barrels a day next year from its current level of as much as 480,000 barrels a day, he told reporters in the capital Khartoum.

91% of UAE commuters use cars

Commuters across the country are unwilling to give up their cars in favour of public transport despite a huge investment in the sector, a survey reveals.

Some 91 per cent of UAE residents prefer to use private transport to travel to work every day with 79 per cent using their cars and 12 per cent going by taxi, according to a survey by Regus, a global serviced offices company.

BP Countersued by Commodities Trading Head Who Claims Wrongful Dismissal

BP Plc’s former head of commodities trading Quek Chin Thean and three other ex-employees countersued the oil company after being accused of misusing confidential information and helping BP’s rival set up a competing business.

Brazil May Price Oil at $10-12 in Petrobras Swap, Estado de S. Paulo Says

Brazil’s government may price so- called pre-salt oil reserves at $10 to $12 per barrel in an oil- for-stock swap with Petroleo Brasileiro SA, O Estado de S. Paulo reported, without saying where it got the information.

Beirut eyes offshore round

Lebanon hopes to launch a licensing round for offshore gas exploration at the beginning of 2012, the Energy Minister Gebran Bassil said today, two days after parliament unanimously ratified a long-awaited energy law.

Shell May Spend $50 Billion in Australia Over 10 Years Amid Shift to Gas

Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to spend as much as $50 billion in Australia over the next decade, more than in any other region, as Europe’s largest oil company continues a shift to gas production.

BP "bottom-kill" on Gulf well to be early September: Allen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – BP Plc should be conducting the operation to finally kill its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well the week of September 6, the top official overseeing the spill response said on Thursday.

Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, appearing on CNN, said under the latest timeline agreed with BP, the operation to kill the well by injecting mud and cement into the bottom through a relief well should be conducted the week after the U.S. Labor Day holiday, which is on Monday, September 6.

Florida Weighs Billing BP More Than $1 Billion to Plug Fund Gap

Florida may send BP Plc a claim for more than $1 billion to close a budget gap after the largest U.S. oil spill as neighboring Gulf Coast states weigh their options.

Steve Yerrid, a Tampa lawyer chosen by Florida Governor Charlie Crist to advise him on legal issues concerning the spill, said the state may seek an initial payment in the “lower range” of billions of dollars to make up for lost tax revenue.

Oil Plumes May Be More Toxic Than Thought, Scientists Warn

Undersea plumes of microscopic oil droplets extending dozens of miles from the BP wellhead may be more toxic to marine microorganisms in the Gulf of Mexico than previously believed, according to preliminary experimental results from Florida researchers.

Americans divided on Gulf offshore drilling: poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans are almost equally divided on whether the Obama administration should lift the moratorium on offshore oil drilling and on the possibility of BP returning to explore in the area of its massive spill, according to a new Gallup poll.

But Americans continue to disapprove of the way both BP Plc and President Barack Obama have handled the blowout of the well that spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico before being capped in July.

David Suzuki: More drilling, even more disasters

The Gulf of Mexico disaster is just the latest in a long history of "accidents." As Canada considers drilling for oil in the Arctic now that ice seems to be less of an impediment, we should remember that in October 1970, a blow-out at a natural gas well on King Christian Island in the Arctic Ocean created a massive flame as up to 5.6 million cubic metres of gas a day spewed for more than three months. It was the second blow-out in the Arctic since drilling began the year before. Around the same time, the drilling consortium, Panarctic Oil Ltd., was slapped with a huge fine for dumping junk steel, waste oil, and other garbage into the Arctic Ocean.

Aramco, Adnoc Seek Gasoline, Diesel as Refineries Undergo Maintenance Work

Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., the state-owned oil producers, are seeking deliveries of gasoline and diesel to meet demand as refineries undergo maintenance, three traders with knowledge of the tenders said.

Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, the world’s largest crude exporter, is buying gasoline from September through the end of the year, according to the traders, who asked not to be identified since the talks aren’t public. The company is also seeking diesel to fuel power plants in August and September, another trader said.

Petron to launch cheap gas for passenger vehicles, boats, farm machines

MANILA, Philippines -- In a bid to make cheap gasoline available to more Filipinos, oil giant Petron Corp. will sell starting this Friday its Petron Pinoy Gasoline brand—a more affordable gasoline formulation for public utility vehicles, bancas and farm equipment.

Canadian Senate Committee Rules Out Ban On Offshore Drilling

(RTTNews) - A Canadian Senate Committee says there is no need for a moratorium on off-shore drilling in Canadian waters.

The bipartisan committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources arrived at the conclusion after probing the state of off-shore drilling in Canada.

Group: Survey shows ill health in Wyo. frack zone

(AP:CHEYENNE, Wyo.) Four out of five people who have returned health surveys report respiratory problems in a central Wyoming community where some residents say gas drilling has polluted their water wells, an environmental group said Wednesday.

Russian nuclear chief: Iranian plant fuel to be strictly supervised

Moscow - The head of Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom assured Thursday that the upcoming delivery of nuclear fuel rods to Iran's Bushehr plant will be strictly supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA.

What if there’s much less coal than we think?

How much coal is there in the world?

It's tough to think of a more important question for the next half-century. The answer will play a huge role in shaping public policy and directing capital investments. So we've got it pretty well nailed down, right?

Turns out, maybe not.

Tom Whipple: On the Death of Matthew Simmons

Last week Matt Simmons, who was America's preeminent proponent of the idea that world oil production was about to peak, died at the age of 67. Simmons was unique among those talking and writing about peak oil in that he came from the very heart of American capitalism, a self-made investment banker for the oil industry. Unlike most who are outspoken on the issue of peak oil, Simmons was a Republican, an energy advisor to President George W. Bush, and commanded the attention of the financial and mainstream media.

We are facing a tough future

And the overarching headwind is peak oil. It is the profound and unending change in our world. That this is real is not in doubt.

The Singularity Summit 2010

Worse, I'm involved in various virtual forums where a surprisingly high percentage of normally creditable academics fear the dual hammer of the Greenhouse Effect and Peak Oil crushing the world economy. Some actually have formed sustainable societies awating the culling of the world population from 7 billion to 1 billion. Pessimism is running rampant.

Thus, it was refreshing and invigorating for me to experience unbounded optimism at the Singularity Summit gathering in San Francisco this past weekend. Six hundred geeky, bright and mostly young participants sat in on two days of hope for the future.

Time To Terminate Western Civilization Before It Terminates Us

Western civilization has been in decline at least since 1979, when world per-capita oil supply peaked coincident with the Carter Doctrine regarding oil in the Middle East. In my mind, and perhaps only there, these two events marked the apex of American Empire, which began about the time Thomas Jefferson — arguably the most enlightened of the Founding Fathers — said, with respect to native Americans: “In war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy all of them.” It wasn’t long after 1979 that the U.S. manufacturing base was shipped overseas and we began serious engagement with Wall Street-based casino culture as the basis for our industrial economy. By most economic measure, we’ve experienced a lost decade, so it’s too late for a fast crash of the industrial economy. We’re in the midst of the same slow train wreck we’ve been experiencing for more than a decade, but the train is teetering on the edge of a cliff. Meanwhile, all we want to discuss, at every level in this country, is the quality of service in the dining car.

Into wind -- trip to Danish green island Samsoe

The small Danish island of Samsoe with a population of 4,200 offers a refreshing alternative, amid the world's dependence on fossil fuel that is mainly responsible for climate change and global warming.

Another Brick in the (Blend) Wall: Key thresholds and barriers for biofuels

We hear so much about the ethanol blend wall, that we can be excused for thinking it is the primary wall, or threshold, out there.

How can we get our eco-warrior neighbours off our backs?

Our neighbours are always on our family’s back about being more eco-conscious – we drive a 4x4 (we live in the country), have four children and can afford plenty of holidays abroad. They’re a smaller family who prefer camping and growing their own vegetables. Short of moving, how can we call a truce?

Building community resilience for the transition to a low-carbon future: The Transition Town movement

Helping communities make the transition to a low-carbon society is more a social than a technical issue, say Transition Town proponents. Many low-carbon technology options have already been developed, but their social adoption is still delayed.

A prime focus of the Transition Town movement is building community resilience in the face of serious and potentially sudden contractions in global trade and industrial agriculture - contractions that will result in insecure supplies of energy and food.

Gov’t aims for 100% climate awareness

While about 70 percent of Filipinos are aware of the impact of climate change, the government vehemently pushed for 100 percent awareness on the pressing issue to prepare and encourage people to take action on the adverse effects of climate change.

The Climate Change Commission (CCC) issued the appeal on Thursday after Pulse Asia survey results show that seven of every 10 Filipinos acknowledge the dangers posed by climate change to the environment.

China launches low-carbon pilot in select cities, provinces

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) launched a national low-carbon province and low-carbon city experimental project in Beijing on Aug. 18. The project will be implemented in five provinces, namely Guangdong, Liaoning, Hubei, Shaanxi and Yunnan, and in eight cities, namely Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Hangzhou, Nanchang, Guiyang and Baoding.

Russia launches inquiry into Pavlovsk seed bank after Twitter campaign

The Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, has ordered an immediate inquiry into the potential destruction of the world's oldest seed bank following a court case and a Twitter campaign by Guardian readers and others.

GOP candidates knock global warming

Fueled by anti-Obama rhetoric and news articles purportedly showing scientists manipulating their own data, Republicans running for the House, Senate and governor’s mansions have gotten bolder in stating their doubts over the well-established link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

Pakistan -- a Sad New Benchmark in Climate-Related Disasters

UNITED NATIONS -- Devastating flooding that has swamped one-fifth of Pakistan and left millions homeless is likely the worst natural disaster to date attributable to climate change, U.N. officials and climatologists are now openly saying.

Most experts are still cautioning against tying any specific event directly to emissions of greenhouse gases. But scientists at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva say there's no doubt that higher Atlantic Ocean temperatures contributed to the disaster begun late last month.

New Computer Model Advances Climate Change Research

ScienceDaily — Scientists can now study climate change in far more detail with powerful new computer software released by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

On the frontline of climate change

Irrigated by one of the world's mightiest river systems, the Murray-Darling Basin yields nearly half of Australia's fresh produce. But the basin is ailing, and scientists fear that as climate change grips the driest inhabited continent, its main foodbowl could become a global warming ground zero.

The signs are already ominous: in the Riverland, one of the nation's major horticulture areas, dying vines and parched lemon trees attest to critical water shortages. Farmers have had their water allocations slashed during the recent crippling drought; 200 sold up, and many of those who hung on are struggling.

In Renmark, the region's oldest town, tales of hardship abound. Some families have spent their life savings; others are drowning in debt.

At one school, children have reportedly been stealing packed lunches from classmates. "That's how bad things have got, and I know people in those circumstances," says Jim Belehris, an almond grower.

Inching closer to harnessing the world's highest tides?

Fundy Tidal to launch test turbine in September

Another tidal power demonstration project is ready to be launched in the Bay of Fundy in waters off Digby County.

Fundy Tidal Inc. of Westport will drop a test turbine in the waters this fall to measure the potential for renewable energy from the tides, hopefully to begin commercial operation in three years, said company president Dana Morin on Wednesday.

"The tide rushes from St. Marys Bay into the Bay of Fundy twice a day. . . . It’s an extreme current," said Morin. "Our water is clear as a bell, ice-free, shallow . . . and very close to shore."

Fundy Tidal is trying to harness tidal energy using turbines that spin in the current as the tides come and go, turning generators to produce electricity that is clean, and hopefully reasonably priced under the provincial government’s new feed-in-tariff policy.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1197505.html



"Maine company says underwater turbine is a success"

Paul, did this one get any time up there in N.S. today?

Tag, you're it!


Thanks, Bob, for sharing this; excellent news. A little friendly rivalry between ourselves and the great state of Maine would be welcome indeed. Let the arms race begin ! (alternate renewable marine systems)

We've got our eyes on ya: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjDkmBy-M6A


We are a defective species.

I read or heard that if the current population of 6.7 billion people were equally compensated in wealth measured by money each person would have $8000 per year.

Given this assumption we would need three planets of Earth to supply the most basic needs such a clean water and electrical power for refrigeration.

Re: Bangladesh shuts gas filling stations for Ramadan


A relaxed Ramadan - thanks to solar energy

"During the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, we only eat after sunset and are not allowed to cook during the day but should be praying instead," Djénéba said. "The solar cookers have helped us a lot during Ramadan because we let the sun cook for us - at night, everything is ready...

Ever since the steep increase in oil and gas prices, the need to use wood as an energy source has been on the rise, while the population is growing at the same time. But Soumaoro does not think that coal will be abandoned entirely at some point.

"This is because people change their habits and behavior very slowly here," he said. "However, solar energy can help us understand that we must protect our environment."

Anyone have any ideas as to how we speed up change?

Change nearly always starts with a few early adopters. Others stand by with the "Let Mikey try it attitude". If Mikey likes it, they may try it too.

So speeding up the process involves getting the word out about early adopters like the islanders in "Into wind -- trip to Danish green island Samsoe", up top.

One of the early adopters of wind around here was The Cerro Gordo wind farm. It is named after the county in which it is located. It is just south of Clear Lake and Ventura.

There is roadside information telling about the Cerro Gordo wind farm south of Ventura. Press the right or left arrow key to look around Google Street View.


Clear Lake’s claim to fame is that it is where Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper crashed and died.


There is now a Buddy Holly Place street next to the Surf Ballroom where he had performed.


Here are some Flicker pictures of the crash site.


The Cerro Gordo Wind Farm has 55 turbines that can produce 40 megawatts. It is one of the older north Iowa wind farms being built in 1999.


The wind that powers the Cerro Gordo wind farm killed Buddy Holly and the rest.


It was Bye-Bye Miss American Pie:


The jobs report wasn't good:

Jobless claims lurch to 500,000

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A government report Thursday brought bad news for workers and the economy: The number of unemployed Americans seeking a financial lifeline has reached its highest level in nine months.

Last week, the number of first-time filers for unemployment insurance rose for the third time in a row, to 500,000, according to a Labor Department report released Thursday.

..."You can sometimes dismiss a big number and say , 'Oh, it's just one week,'" Quinlan added. "But with the four-week moving average continuing higher, you can see this is just a bad trend."

I wonder if jobs will ever come back and if the lack of jobs is essentially a feature, not a defect of our economic system. The ability of the number of jobs to rebound, even in the face of overall economic growth, has been a feature of our economy for at least the last ten years. The inability of a modern economy to provide sufficient jobs has been recognized at least since the 1960s when economists and others recommended that we provide a guaranteed annual income in recognition of this feature of the economy. When you combine greater productivity through automation and outsourcing to Chindia, this double wammy makes it unlikely that jobs will ever recover to anything approaching even a loose definition of full employment.

Unless we begin to transition to a more labor intensive economy, we need to begin to erase the stigma of unemployment and redistribute the wealth through a national credit card which would be filled up yearly or monthly to something like $20 to $30k per year.

Peak oil and less availability of energy slaves could eventually help fix the unemployment problem. In the interim, it should be recognized that what people really need is money, not necessarily employment. People can find plenty to do outside the traditional bounds of employment. Hang out at TOD, for example.

Some folks, like those who tend who hang out at CNBC, think all we need to do is "unleash" private businesses. That is total b.s. Businesses, despite all their cash, will always try to minimize the number of people they hire. The government has had to intervene since there is no hope in relying on the private sector for jobs.

Employment is so 20th century. We need to get over it and move on.

ts - So your solution is out and out communism. What the hell...it might work this time.

Maybe this is out and out communism in your world but my definition would include government ownership of all private assets. That is not what I am proposing. I am suggesting that we have a structural problem which cannot be solved by simply hoping private enterprise steps up to the plate. Private business will minimize costs which will continue to include minimizing unemployment despite the fact that this approach will come back to bite them. Henry Ford recognized this years ago.

I think we need to recognize that employment is not coming back. Continued attempts to pump up growth with some employment from trickle down is fruitless and is supported by the lack of success of the stimulus packages.

What would be your approach? The status quo? I am suggesting that the status quo approaches, whether from government or from business has not worked and will not work.

ts -- If the govt is going to give everyone in the country $20k to $30k a year where exactly are they going to get the funds? The only source for those funds would be taking assets away from the productive activities. But I agree...unemployment isn't going to come back in the long term thanks to PO IMHO. We have a huge percentage of the population dependent on jobs which are non-essential and completely dependent upon discretionary spending. Discretionary spending that will largely disappear when the worst of PO hits. But taking revenue from the remaining productive sections of the economy and redistributing them won't produce more jobs...it will cost more jobs.

IMHO there is no viable solution to this problem in the time frame we have to deal with it. I also agree the stimulus package was just a vote fishing gimmic that gained nothing and probably in the long run will hurt the economy more than help. Maybe if we started amending BAU 30 or 40 years ago there might have been a chance.

Do you mean productive activities like the financial sector multi millionaires and billionaires? Or perhaps you meant the defense budget? Or maybe the homeland security budget with its hundreds of agencies. Or maybe the 900,000 people who have top secret security clearances? Or maybe all the road building we have been doing with the stimulus money? Identify the truly productive activities and we can exempt them from contributing to those who are unemployed and will remain unemployed. And we do need to subsidize the auto industry to make sure people continue to emphasize SUV over small cars.

What the hell does America produce, anyway?

"What the hell does America produce, anyway?"

Hot air; lots and lots of hot air.

America Does Not Produce Nothing -- Seeking Alpha. Compressed O2 is in there somewhere, yes.

No able-bodied person should get hand-outs. Even WPA is better than the social system we have now, let alone the freebies you esponse. For less than 30K, I'd have my wife quit work and stay home.

Makes more sense to have people working SOMEWHERE then being idle.

Work is overrated.

So getting people used to sitting around when more than likely there will be a lot more manual labor in everyone's future?

Not a good idea.

Perhaps from one angle it is but a nation of unemployed men, especially young men, is a toxic brew.

We need to find a way to employ hundreds of millions of people across all Western democracies — fast. Or they won't be democracies for much longer.

Political entities are always temporary, right now it appears there is simply too much available labor.

Hmmm...are we saying the same thing? I'm not sure.

You may have been right in the past. You may still be right, but I'm not sure.

People wonder why crime hasn't gone up.

Three answers: 500 cable channels, World of Warcraft, internet porn.

We can wax nostalgic about the days when street life was more active...but there was a darker side, as well...drug dealing and rapes and mafia beatdowns. Nazi and Soviet revolutions. Unpleasant stuff to say the least.

Now we imprison half the males, and the other half are in a media prison. 1984 meets Brave New World.

So basically I'm not so sure that unemployment automatically means crime or mass unrest. At least not yet.

Some day we won't have enough money or energy for electricity. Then all bets are off.

The points you raise may be acting as a temporary buffer in our part of the world but if they are acting they are temporary. Plus, there are all the countries that don't have that buffer in place.

The anxiety will continue to increase...it's just a matter of time.

People wonder why crime hasn't gone up.
Three answers: 500 cable channels, World of Warcraft, internet porn.

One of the signs things are bad: The cable companies are order by the government to give away the programming to keep the people in their homes and off the streets.

(and do not forget the ability to track people via their cell phones.)

Work is overrated.

Bravo to you, tstreet!!! I've been loving this whole thread. And BTW, wasn't the kind of "communism" you describe also considered by Nixon?

I'd just qualify to say that wage slavery is overrated. We're currently organizing our lives so we don't have to work - except at keeping a garden, bees, and chickens.


I agree with your qualification. Working in one's garden definitely beats working for "the man". Some people need to work in the formal economic system until they drop. God bless them.

So what about that WPA approach?

Are we ready to kick into gear with that again?

Up north here, we have some incentives for weatherproofing, but by and large, we have a slew of un- and under-employed people who live in un- and underinsulated housing, but they have no spare resources to fix that problem, and will also not have the resources to be paying for enough heat (or food, meds etc.. take your pick) in two to three months.

Clearly, a massive program to get that going would be a disaster for the companies who need to make their living based on such work.. so part of the program would be to integrate those trades into the program, but without it being just a pork-pie for a few, and the same-old for everyone else.

Still, the pieces are out there, if we can put them together wisely.


Don't you see. For the conservatives, that would be an unacceptable hand out, an example of the government wasting money. And doncha know, the government can't produce jobs.

If you're going to listen to that noise from the extremists, you'll never be willing to propose any solutions. There ARE middle-ground conservatives and liberals, and they ALL get trashed right now from both sides for being 'blankety-blank compromisers'.. 'the worst kind of traitor, doncha know'.

Support them by holding those difficult 'middle-ground' conversations, where some points are agreeable, and some are in dispute.. It's sausage-making, and there's a reason it makes a traumatized and spoiled nation uncomfortable. People are worn out, and they're hoping they can fall back on easy answers and easy scapegoats.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Not even the 'truth'.. just the 'possibilities' are in that muck in-between. Yet Another decoy about all that, is that any compromise looks like both 'failure' and 'more BAU' to those who are expecting that only a total revolution will bring about their instant conversion to the utopia they seek. They just forget that after a bloody upsurge, there's no guarantee you'll get the ideal you were fighting for, and in many cases the odds will have gotten worse.. and things settling out will have many seeking a return to 'the good old days', as much as others will start something new.

You may be correct. I may be overreacting to some of the comments made here by conservatives today. However, it appears to be that the extreme right is making a resurgence. I started the day today by listening to CNBC. Big mistake. The mantra was that if the government would just get off the backs of private business, then everything will be hunky dory again. I think that is a bit simplistic. On the other hand, they do have a point in the sense that all this stimulus seems to have produced very little in the form of employment, putting aside what they really care about-- the stock market.

Nothing seems to be working if the concern is employment. I am just suggesting that neither private enterprise or government can fix that problem if the government is just going to pump more money into the economy the way it is doing. And a big chunk of that money is being spend on roads, which I think is a bad priority considering our most critical problems of peak oil and global warming.

The extremists are getting louder and louder so it is hard to not listen. My fear is that they will be running the show again come November. They are already running the show in the sense that they have gridlocked congress with their no votes.

The extremists, I think, are getting desperate, and yes, loud. I don't know that they're really getting more power, though. It's the squeaky wheel thing.. I'll hold off predicting where it'll head, but boy, I think Gingrich has been Laying Bricks in his own Tomb over this mosque thing.. that kind of talk will impress just exactly who he wants it to, and NObody else.

NEWT GINGRICH: Those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy. That’s why they won’t go anywhere else. That’s why they won’t accept any other offer. And I think we ought to be honest about the fact that we have a right—and this happens all the time in America. You know, Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There’s no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center.

Good comparison, Newt. A moderate Imam who has worked with Christians and Jews, and Nazis and WWII era-Japanese.

Has he ever been to Hawaii? There are plenty of Japanese temples near Pearl Harbor.

In principle I agree that the people who want a mosque are entitled to it;this is obviuosly the only interpretation of the situation consistent with our basic principle of freedom of religion.

Maybe it should be a little farther away;we accept the day to day reality of protest marches being confined to certain routes and locations, do we not?

as a matter of practical politics, the mosque backers have stuck thier foot in it but good, creating a huge backlash to no good purpose except to infuriate and energize thier political enemies.

Things of this nature should be allowed an adequate cooling off period before being pushed on a mostly still hot under the collar public.The time is not yet-in terms of good sense and good relations among the various political factions.

A couple of years down the road, the backlash would be halved probably, and five years from now, it would attract very little notice

And there is a certain amount of moral truth on the sides of the people who are so upset;IIrc, the Pope told a bunch of nuns to rattle thier hocks away from an old German concentration camp, saying simply that they had no business there;that the place is the moral property of the Jewish people.

Personally I think the whole thing is a farce, and that the left is mostly using the issue not to emphasize adherence to our principles but to flaunt its high toned plumage.

I never notice them defending other freedoms half so hard except when they see political advantage in doing so;some people I hear bashing christians as stupid ignorant and backward are defending building the mosque, while at the same time obviously in favor -if they could get away with doing so- of suppressing religion.

In terms of the big picture and the relatively small number of people who can think for themselves, building the mosque is a good move-although a more suitable " cultural mourning period" should be granted, not by edict but by choice and sensibility on the part of the builders.

The better educated and more intelligent people who follow Mohammed , or other prophets, or philosophies, or religions,who hear about the mosque will realize that America is truly a free country.

The value and the power of such a realization among even a small fraction of the elite in a place such as Iraq or Iran cannot be acccurately estimated, but at some point some of the small fraction mentioned will occupy positions of power and authority, and this could make all the difference in future history.

One of them might be the top man or at the right hand of the top man as an adviser when a crisis comes to a head.

Maybe it should be a little farther away;

How about build the mosque actually on "ground zero"?

we accept the day to day reality of protest marches being confined to certain routes and locations, do we not?

I'm guessing the 'acceptance' you think you see is because there is a group of people with guns and battons who'd apply the beatdown if you do not stay in the free speech zone.

Obviously you have missed my point altogether-a little common sense exercised on the part of people who have the RIGHT, MORAL OR LEGAL, to do something that is going to po thier enemies to the max is very much to the advantage of everybody.

Both current wings of American politics endorse by action keeping protesters away from the immediate vicinity of thier rallys and speeches by major figures-it's sop.Just everyday reality.

Go ahead and defend the mosque;I did so myself, reluctantly, as a matter of principle;building it LATER ON is a much better idea.

I have relatives who may die in uniform;it has been determined by the courts that some idiot opposed to the current military adventures has the right to crash thier potential funeral;if they show up , they WILL REGRET IT, despite any law protecting them-there ISN'T enough law to protect them in this part of the world.

This is how WE FEEL anD BELIEVE about this issue;I'm sure you feel the same about the mosque.

You and I can discuss this like gentleman, no insults or challenges intended.

The public can't and won't.

You can get any two dogs fighting by rubbing each dog's fur toward its head.

You want an even bigger repuglithan majority in congress come January?Sarah Palin in the White House?

Building the mosque is a step in that direction.Think about it.

Maybe the Iman who is pushing it is not so moderate as one might think;certainly I can see that despite the rhetoric and his public personae, he could be deliberately poisoning relations among factions in this country.

I'm not saying this is so, but it is quite within the realm of possibility.

Consider the issue of refugees for instance;Isreal takes in any who can get away, and sends a plane for them.The whole rest of the Arab/Muslim world, which in many instances is extremely prosperous, will not take a few plane loads of thier brothers and sisters who would undoubtedly like to get out of Palestine.

Has it ever occured to the average basher of Isreal that her enemies are quite willing to sacrifice thier own for political advantage?

Have you ever heard the term "sleeper" as it applies to politics and spies?

Go ahead and call me a bigot now, if you feel the need, for being realistic and pointing out obvious truths and possibilities. ;)

Actually I'm just a cynical Darwinian realist who knows that we are nothing more than naked apes manevuering for any advantage accrueing to those we see as members of our own " in group".

If that makes me a bigot, so be it.

Leanan - that analogy sounds good but it's not quite right. We have reconciled with Japan; Japan is one of our closest allies. In the here and now however we are in the middle of a cultural war with Islam. Young Americans are dying in far off lands coming home with their coffins draped in the stars and stripes. You can disagree with with our foreign policy, that is the sovereign right of a citizen of a free country, but to try and shove something as sharp and angular down the American psyche as a mosque on the spot where Muslim extremists attacked us in the name of Islam is indigestible. Forty years from now who cares! Hopefully people will have moved on to more important topics.

I think we need to remember that this idea of tolerance is still a new thing.


From everything I've heard, both Bush and Obama administrations were/are careful not to present our military action as any kind of battle with Islam. I think Saddam Hussein was not much of a Muslim anyway. We invaded Iraq because of his supposed weapons of mass destruction or something like that - anyway, to toss out a dictatorial maniac and, uh, something or other after that, but anyway, I think the idea is that somehow a new Iraqi government should arise that represents the true interests of the Iraqi people - who are like 99% Muslim.

Similarly in Afghanistan. This is also a Muslim country. The official U.S. intent, AFAIK, is to replace a bad Muslim government with a good Muslim government.

If we really want to succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan, i.e. to get solid governments in place that support the various U.S. agendas, probably vocal U.S. government support for mosque building here is actually a smart tactic.

Now, would you believe that in November of that year (2002), right next to the spot where 184 people lost their lives in the Pentagon, the military opened a sanctuary where Islam could be celebrated?

Actually, most of the temples were probably there before the attack. It has nothing to do with reconciliation. Japanese were not viewed as "outsiders" in Hawaii the way Moslems are in the US today.

I'm not commenting on the mosque issue, so much as the ignorance of the comparison.

In the here and now however we are in the middle of a cultural war with Islam. [...]
I think we need to remember that this idea of tolerance is still a new thing.

Yes, you are in the middle of a cultural war with Islam. No, tolerance is not a new thing. A thousand years ago, the Islamic Golden Age was characterised by: "Religious freedom, though society was still controlled under Islamic values, helped create cross-cultural networks by attracting Muslim, Christian and Jewish intellectuals and thereby helped spawn the greatest period of philosophical creativity in the Middle Ages from the 8th to 13th centuries.[4] Another reason the Islamic world flourished during this period was an early emphasis on freedom of speech,"

The islamic world flourished in science and in culture because of openness and tolerance. But when their power and civilisation started to crumble, there was a natural feeling of insecurity, and with insecurity comes intolerance, and with intolerance comes even more descent, and so on.

It is no wonder the Americans are starting to get intolerant. They feel their dominance is crumbling, and the cultural majority is starting to feel insecure of their religion, their civilisation and their place in the world. Thus they are starting to abandon their principles of tolerance, of integrity and of freedom of religion. As well as the intentions of their founding fathers and their constitution.

The opposition to the mosque may be one of the clearer examples of how the US is losing the cultural war, and how the counterproductive forces of intolerance has started a spiral of descent. On the up-side - the winner - Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu or whatever, will become more tolerant and more open as their self-esteem and power rise. They will read in their wikipedia equivalents about the American Golden Age. It lasted a mere hundred years, while the (first?) Islamic Golden Age lasted about four hundred years.

The gov't wastes far more in corporate and individual welfare already, not to mention programmatic excesses of all sorts.

Note that such jobs would ideally be ones that nobody would want who isn't hungry or otherwise highly motivated. Such programs, like WPA, go away when nobody signs up for the work anymore.

You could argue the Army is one such program today.

Well, for one, it's not a 'handout' if people are working for that money. Second, the Nation builds infrastructure (if the programs are done wisely, and they can be), so 'we' are getting something for our money, and finally, the economic boon is multiplied throughout the economy, as that cash goes right back into food, clothing, housing, etc..

Sure, use the army & NG, also.. I'd love to have a bunch of our Boys and Girls back home putting cellulose into our houses, or building a bunch of Low-Income Passive Solar Apartment Houses... They'd probably appreciate it as well.


As long as we are so concerned about hand outs, let us retroactively begin with the banks and the other financial entities that have receieved hundreds of billions. Do that and then we can start talking about the crumbs for the unemployed. The billions redistributed now are functions of the political system which favors groups like the military industrial complex and the financial sector. Eliminate all those hand outs first and then come for the poor.

Tstreet,in respect to your 11:51 am comment:

If you take the trouble to discriminate between true or real conservatism and the parody of it which finds expression in todays republican establishment, you would realize that you are basically in agreement with me- and I'm one of the more conservative posters here.

Only the loudmouths on the conservative side of the spectrum who are interested in whipping up the redneckish vote espouse hard core capitalism of the find a job or starve sort.

I fully recognize that the path we are on is unsustainable and that a large part of the problem is that we have a military industrial complex and a govt in the pocket of special interests-so does every conservative I have ever spoken with personally.

I (and every conservative I have ever spoken with personally) recognize the necessity of floor level safety net type programs;the philosophical conservative argument is not about eliminating such programs but rather the need for them.

Incidentally the folks you have in mind are probably such as Limbaugh and his buddies;but even they, whom I regard as bought and paid for mouthpieces of the big biz establishment, have something useful to say occasionally.

Listening to them is like reading novels-you gotta sort out the good stuff and trash the rest.

No able-bodied person should get hand-outs. Even WPA is better than the social system we have now, let alone the freebies you esponse. For less than 30K, I'd have my wife quit work and stay home.

Makes more sense to have people working SOMEWHERE then being idle.

I agree with this. We have to be careful about defining able-bodied, as some disbilities (such as a bad back) may not be casually apparent. But doing something that is at least marginally productive, is better for society, and for the individual being helped/employed. Of course if the work produces less direct value than its cost, it is a form of welfare, i.e. subsidized work requires someone to pony up the subsidy.

EOS: The problem seems to be that through mechanical and electronic enhancements, robotics and the like, we are requiring fewer and fewer workers to manufacture goods and provide services. Combine with wage arbitrage through China, India, Pakistan and the like, and the people in the US are not employed... and not earning wages.

The other side of the coin is that the corporate interest expect the people in the US to purchase most of the goods that they send to market. And, yet, they are not prepared to employ them. In logic, there is a reducto ad absurdum, where you carry the logic through to its conclusion. In this case, there will be no one earning money, no one being paid. Who then is purchasing all the crap they are putting on the market? And, how?


I'd have my wife quit work and stay home.
And what would happen at home? Would it be a Physics land of no work as she'd start and stop the day in the same place?

(work = force X distance. If you start and stop in the same place - did you do work?)

ts - By productive activities I mean those efforts which generate revenue that the govt taxes so it can function. It really is that simple: no productive businesses generating income = no taxes. No taxes = no govt. And last I heard most of the govt tax revenue was coming from folks making a profit doing something. Or what I would define as being productive. As the very old saw goes: have you ever been given a paycheck by a poor man? I'm not an economist nor dig into it very deeply. But some aspects are really just that simple. You and I probably agree on many points regarding wasteful spending. But I wasn't talking about how the govt spends it's money...just where it gets it. It's always going to be a delicate balance between how much money the govt redistributes and how that capital taken away from the produces affects production down the road. The productive end of society is needed to support the non-productive end. That's not making a judgement on the non or less productive segment of society. But it acknowledges that a very large portion of the population contributes almost nothing financially to supporting the system. I enjoy a good meal and always tip accordingly. But that waiter isn't contributing much financially to society. He needs the taxes paid by the millionaires as well as the meals paid for by the rest of us. Without those two components he has neither an income nor any support services from the gvot.

Theoretically you don't need taxes. The government can print money and hand that out (albeit causing inflationary pressure and making foreigners with investments very angry).

BTW, I have been a member of TOD now officially for 5 years and 7 minutes.

I have seniority: five years and 8 hours.

Oh, drat. All week I've been sitting at four years, 51 weeks, just waiting for it to roll over. In anticipation: thank you to all the people, past and present, who have been listed in the personnel box; thanks to the community, who keep the signal-to-noise ratio remarkably high; thanks particularly to those who point it out to me when I say something stupid.

I may not know the answers, but the quality of my questions is much improved.

I may not know the answers, but the quality of my questions is much improved.

One of the BEST comments I have read !

So true, so true !!


Webbie, you're going to give 'Theory' a bad name again..

What you probably don't understand is that in this case, "theory" signifies "game theory".

Game theory is the study of artificially created games that may not follow any natural laws. Most of the time they can't be proven to give predictable results in one direction or another, which means that any theory is potentially applicable. In a game theory experiment, you probably can't prove a difference between printing money and a regressive flat-tax.

Its all pretty pointless.

I was being jocular.. but still, when you start a post with 'Theoretically, you don't need taxes', you are rubbing those semantics up against a synonymous ideology hard enough to ignite a bunch of libertarians brainpans.

"Tread softly, for you are treading on their dreams.."

I guess I was being a bit defensive, because I don't want to be known as the Jim Cramer of TOD.

This is actually a Prisoner's Dilemma game strategy. Do I minimize the potential for myself looking bad at the risk of your rep? Or do I say nothing or just take a hit.

What you seem to be saying is that the underlying problem is too many people per unit of natural resource, whether barrel of oil or bushel of wheat or square of lumber.
The solution is reducing the amount of resources used to be used per person.
Renewable wind reduces the amount of coal or gas used per person. Higher efficiency cars and appliances(cash for guzzlers and junk 'em ) and house insulation and low energy lighting, saving
the amount of fossil fuels by a factor of 2 or more.
What's holding us back is the 'free-market', illusory choice. It sounds good but the consumer is overwhelmed with real disinformation, advertising and a misleading price tag.

We need to junk the market and profit at least until we get a lot more efficient.
In China it's easy. The government orders the people to get it done--here the people talk about 'their rights'.

In the 1930's the whole world pretty much gave up on democracy as hopelessly incompetent. This is where we are probably heading.

There's you solution maj. Just let me know when you've gotten everyone to volunteer to sign up to conserve. If by free market you mean folks are free to live their lives as they choose then yep...the free market is killing us. We both know it will never happen without those same free market forces causing it to happen. Name me one politician who'll get elected by promising folks he'll FORCE them to reduce they way the live.

There are lots of ways to help the current problems. A lack of good ideas is not the problem...implamentaion is.

Well Al Gore got more votes, except on the Supreme Court.

A more efficient refrigerator or air conditioner or more insulation does NOT "reduce the way people live".

And they all take pressure off of the grid.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


Alan,I'm in your camp on days when I'm feeling optimistic.

But as Rockman points out, nobody will agrree to any voluntary cutbacks-and other serious researchers here seem to believe that your more efficient air conditioner will paradoxically increase rather than decrease the usage of electricity viz Jevon's.

My guess is that hardship will cut far deeper into the use of ac electrical consumption in the near future than more efficient ac units.

Do you have estimates of future electrical rates at retail for the next decade or so?

My own guess is that I will be paying double in a decade.

I believe an add on consumption tax above some minimal per household usage is very likely to be implemented in most places within the next ten to fifteen years.What is your opinion in this respect?

Guessing future electrical rates ? QUITE a crystal ball needed !

National average of at least 50% higher in 2010 $.

Rational decisions are made on the marginal cost/marginal benefit.

Austin Energy (city owned), when faced with a doubling of electricity costs in early 1970s (100% NG back then, unregulated intrastate NG prices), set a lower rate for the first 500 kWh and higher for more. To stay under 500 kWh back then required fans during the day and a small window unit in the bedroom to sleep with.

Smart Meters will allow even more flexibility.

IMHO, with higher efficiency today, homes with non-electric water heating should get 350 kWh at today's rates (400 kWh for those with electric hot water) and some discount for next 300 kWh. And add costs to residences that use more than 2,000 or 2,500 kWH/month.

Not perfect, but it gives wise consumers a reason to become more efficient, or to sweat in the summer.

Slightly adjusted winter rates for those with heat pumps that meet a good efficiency standard.

BTW, Austin Energy, unlike the investor owned utilities, has had a hugely successful conservation program. Saved a couple of power plants worth. I will look up #s later.

I am an Austin Energy (and old HL&P) certified Energy Auditor BTW.

Best Hopes,


From 1982 till 2008, the conservation programs at Austin Energy reduced peak demand by 837 MW. Total generation (> peak) of 3,170 MW in 2008. 2008 peak demand (hot summer) was 2,515 MW.


IMHO, the "halo effect" of increased knowledge and awareness has saved almost as much as the formal program with rebates, etc.

Also, less natural gas use (not covered by electric utility).

Now just duplicate in the 98% of the nation not covered by comparable programs :-)

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,



...add costs to residences that use more than 2,000 or 2,500 kWH/month.

My household of 10 people (four generations) uses less electric than many with 3; yet I should be penalized, and have to pay more because they are in the same residence?

On a similar note, our water bill includes refuse. We are penalized because we use more water, by paying a higher rate for the higher use (cost per gal. goes up at fixed intervals, to encourage conservation, I am sure). We get the same number of trash containers as a 2-person household, and if we want more we have to pay extra for that as well.

We live together to conserve... and as usual no good deed goes unpunished. How would your company stand on true conservation of resources?


A true point of equity !

From vague memories in Austin, they considered household size as a variable, but decided that the administrative overhead, and risk of "gaming" (fraud) was too great.



Thanks for your honest guesstimate, it's not that far from my own;but I didn't mean to put you on the spot by asking for a personal prediction.

Since you do a lot of research, I thought it likely you have saved links to such predictions as have been made by others youconsider credible-academics and utilities and so forth, and could post the links.

If you would write a key post detailing the Austin Energy conservationstory, I believe it should be be accepted .

Contrary to rumor, Hitler, Mussolini and Lenin thought that a violent coup d'etat was superior to any decadent bourgeois democracy. When they did participate in democratic bodies, it was because it gave them an opening to seize power. (A lot of folks think Hitler was elected Chancellor..he was appointed by Hindenburg on the advice of conservatives--once in the Nazis discontinued all elections and ran government from Nazi party offices thru their Gauleiters. Hitler called it fuhrerprinzip--leader principle).



Democracies aren't very good in handling emergencies.

In wartime most people will give up their self-interest in defense of the nation.
Global Warming(if true) and Peak Oil(if true) represent as great a destructive threat as wars but we aren't conditioned to look at them that way.

LBJ tried to rally people to his War on Poverty or Reagan's War on Drugs or Carter's War on Energy Dependency but those didn't take.

Even Hitler had troubles rallying the Germans to fight WW2 and blamed the start on fictitious 'Polish terrorists'.

As Hermann Goering said,

"Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY." --Goering at the Nuremberg Trials

One of my favorite Kurt Cobb essays (from 2007) follows. He produces a chart showing, in effect, the rest of the economy resting on the shoulders of the food & energy producers. What will be the fate of US food & energy producers as US consumers, IMO, are forced to make do with a declining share of a falling volume of global net oil exports?

Upside down economics
by Kurt Cobb

The second chart is how I conceive a properly informed ecological economist might depict the same data. The entire economy stands on the shoulders, as it were, of agriculture, forestry, and mining (especially the extraction of oil, gas, coal and uranium) and on the utilities that deliver the energy mined in usable form.


This method for depicting the economy was suggested to me by two things. First, Liebig's Law of the Minimum states that an organism's growth is limited by the amount of the least available essential nutrient. In the case of world society that nutrient would be food, though many would argue that fossil fuels are the essential nutrient since so much food production depends on the use of fossil fuels and their derivatives including fertilizers and pesticides. Second, a piece by Dmitry Podborits argues that it is nonsense to say that the U. S. economy is less vulnerable to oil supply disruptions today than in 1970s because it produces twice as much GDP per barrel of oil. Instead, Podborits suggests, we are more vulnerable to oil supply disruptions because we have so much more GDP balanced on each barrel of oil. The same argument might be made with respect to agriculture which in the United States in 1930 employed 21.5 percent of the workforce and made up 7.7 percent of GDP. In 2000 the numbers were 1.9 percent of the workforce and 0.7 percent of GDP. We are balancing an ever larger total economy on an agricultural economy that on a relative basis is shrinking. Certainly, we are getting more efficient, but are we becoming more vulnerable?

So your solution is out and out communism.

The 1st time I was aware of the 'everyone gets a min amount of money to live' idea was during the time Nixon was in charge.

Handing someone $20K is still cheaper than tossing them in jail.

where exactly are they going to get the funds?

Really? You want to go there? You want to go down the path of 'where's this money gonna come from' given the spending priorities in place?

Cuz if you are worried about 'where's the money gonna come from' one should have worried about that a long time ago.

The unemployed need some form of protection if they can no longer pay what needs to be paid... for many right now, the penalty is foreclosure if they can't cover house costs... but nobody wins out (any longer) when that option is taken.

Something needs to change before we build up an inertia that won't allow any changes to work.

Eventually the disappearance of resources will create a disaster of its own, in the meantime we don't need to help it along.

The problem isn't foreclosure, it's high housing prices coupled with predatory lending practices. The houses are here, so are the people. Eventually they should sort out so everybody lives somewhere.

Taxing those who can pay their mortgage, or borrowing money from their kids, to support the bloated system does not fix the problem -- it merely moves more people toward the edge.

And really, living on the knife edge is the logical end of population growth and economic growth -- we'll grow until we can't, and then teeter on the brink of chaos, with hunger and unemployment cycling with excess and overwork in an eternal balance.


I am touched by your idealism and floored by your apparent ignorance of the actual past results of having the govt in charge of just about everything.

I urge you to read a book or two by someone who lived thru the Soviet era inside the USSR;human nature is such that the same sort of people who currently control biz biz wind up in control of big govt when big govt is the primary game with seats available at the table.

Excuse me for pointing out to the purely technically trained audience here that novels are not to be read by the enlightened as blueprints but as EXPLORATIONS of ideas and philosophies.You sift out what is useful and relevant like diamonds or gold nuggets from the wastes of a mine-if you are intellectually broad minded enough, meaning essentially basically educated in the liberal arts, to handle the concept.

I double triple dare any body here who has previously posted rants about "Atlas Shrugged" to rationally explian why the book is not immediately relevant to our circumstances today.

We have a current situation wherein the ill informed Ma Kips of the world may wind up putting thier half baked ideas into practice with disastrous results;and one chief characters of the people in either the railroad or the steel industry(it has been many long years since I read it)winds up bragging that in the end HE (she?) has made MORE MONEY out of an ill managed and bankrupt railroad or steel mill due to subsidies and targeted anti competition regulations than the hero has made doing a good job running HIS business.

You have a reading comprehension problem. The soviet history is completely irrelevant to my point. Who the hell said we should follow the soviet model. Do you even realize that one of the proponents of the guaranteed annual income was Milton Friedman? Please spare me the uninformed comments about my supposed naivete. Neither I nor Milton Friedman has proposed that the government be in charge of anything. But from this it does not follow that free market approaches will ever lead to a reasonable employment level. My proposal is to face reality and quit trying to prime the pump in order to get a little bit of government induced employment. Under my proposal, the government would play less of a role and we would start dealing with the problem from the perspective of realism.

It is you who are the idealist.

History is NEVER irrevelant.

Actually I agree with a lot of what yopu have to say, and half of my response got chopped off-will try to correct this down thread.

If we must have welfare, it should be administered as a negative income tax with a slope that provides a cross-over at a multiple of the "living wage" boundary. As a slope function, each recipient will have a safety net to guarantee subsistence as a fraction of "living wage", but will incent additional earning until the cross-over point is reached.

Current welfare systems often indenture the recipient while promoting a lifestyle of working the system. We need one which empowers the recipient and simplifies the system.

What Milton Friedman proposed was a negative income tax, for the purpose of then getting rid of other government programs and departments. From wikipedia...

A negative income tax is intended to create a single system that would not only pay for government, but would also fulfil the social goal of making sure that there was a minimum level of income for all. It is theorized that, with an NIT, the need for minimum wage, food stamps, welfare, social security programs and other government assistance programs could be eliminated, thus reducing the administrative effort and cost to a fraction of what it is under the current system, as well as eliminating the perverse incentives created by these overlapping aid programs, e.g. when a minimum wage worker who earns a little more nets out with less income because he is newly ineligible for aid. This then discourages low-wage workers from seeking higher-paying employment, and is known as the welfare trap.

One model was proposed by Milton Friedman, as part of his flat tax proposals. In this version, a specified proportion of unused deductions or allowances would be refunded to the taxpayer. If, for a family of four the amount of allowances came out to $10,000, and the subsidy rate was 50% (the rate recommended by Friedman), and the family earned $6,000, the family would receive $2,000, because it left $4,000 of allowances unused, and therefore qualifies for $2,000, half that amount. Friedman feared that subsidy rates as high as those would lessen the incentive to obtain employment. He also warned that the negative income tax, as an addition to the "ragbag" of welfare and assistance programs, would only worsen the problem of bureaucracy and waste. Instead, he argued, the negative income tax should immediately replace all other welfare and assistance programs on the way to a completely laissez-faire society where all welfare is privately administered. The negative income tax has come up in one form or another in Congress, but Friedman opposed it because it came packaged with other undesirable elements antithetical to the efficacy of the negative income tax. Friedman preferred to have no income tax at all, but said he did not think it was politically feasible at that time to eliminate it, so he suggested this as a less harmful income tax scheme.[3][4]

Initially Friedman lobbied hard for NIT, but ended up fighting against it when the NIT proposal was going to be added to the current system instead of replacing it.

Friedman wanted to get rid of a bunch of government programs, and saw a negative income tax as a way to decrease overall government.

If you're really intent on setting off an Ayn Rand tornado, give me a minute to get out of the way.

In the meantime, apart from the 'solutions' you'd rather avoid, where would you put your energies as we face this situation? As I asked Paleocon just above, do you see ways for a WPA program to be established, so people could do some honest work, improve the country in essential ways, and not trash existing (essential) businesses in the process?


PS.. It's hard to tell, but I meant all that in a positive way, Mac. Wasn't trying to goad or do any snarking. My singlequote around 'solutions' wasn't a sneer, but was just to say that I know some of the above proposals are ones you don't agree with, and I'm just trying to see where folks DO see some possibilities.

Best, R.Fiske

hi Johkul,

First off I am not advocating following Rand's philosophy;I am advocating reading her work for the gems of wisdom generously sprinkled all thru it;the average liberal who hates her long dead guts spends lots of time raving and foaming at the mouth about some of the very things that she wrote about so eloquently-such as big govt in the pockets of equally big special interests.

Of course since they know every gd thing there is to be known in advance, they don't see the need to consider the possibility that the other side might have a valid point or two to make.Or that Rand made some of thier most important points three generations ago !

I am not sympathetic to communism, but I have read all the basic works of the founders, plus it's basic history-simply because otherwise I would be an idiot running my mouth about something I know nothing about when I discuss or debate it.

You are by the way one of the few regulars here who have expressed an appreciation of the subtleties and nuances of what I have to say.Thanks!

Books of the novel sort are to be read as explorations of ideas, not blueprints;and if you have not bothered to LISTEN to the other side, you can never communicate;all you can do is scream at each other like apes defending territory by jumping up and down and beating limbs on the ground.

Now as to some sort of work for welfare system:

I see this as a necessity, not a sellout or a handout.I believe we will see this idea implemented on a very large scale in the not too distant future.

I'm not to worried about such programs crashing the customer base of existing businesses;there are not so many business people involved in refurbing old houses for energy efficiency as there are houses in need of refurbing;maybe a rule could be written to the effect that for each one hundred thousand dollars of federally or state subsidized work performed, such a contractor must hire a person laid off from some nonconstruction trade for a year.

Lots of useful work simply isn't getting done-such as planting shade trees, or windbreaks;hardly anybody is doing this work, in relation to what needs doing;building bike paths alongside public roads-not being done at any significant rate;visiting people at home for energy audits-not happening;

Maybe a subsidy should be paid to manufacturers of insulation so long as they hire extra help, thereby helping to force down the price of insulation.

Maybe we could hie people to paint roofs white-not being done at present;or to build small fishing lakes on any available public property-not being done

In the end, we are all going to share the pain;existing businesses will just have to bear it like everybody else.At some time in the near future after I have thought this question over, I will provide a better answer.

So far the only people who are mostly escaping the pain are the folks plugged tight into govt and certain kinds of big businesses.I'm afraid I must admit that I look forward to thier sharing the misery for a change.

I feel "Make room, make room" by Harrison is relevant, too.

It was the sci-fi book that the movie "Soylent Green" was based on.

Set in then-future August 1999, the novel explores trends in the proportion of world resources used by the United States and other countries compared to population growth, depicting a world where the global population is seven billion, subject to overcrowding, resource shortages and a crumbling infrastructure.


The book was apparently written in 1996, btw.

It's lot older than that. It dates from the '60s, at least. (Overpopulation was a big worry in the '60s and '70s.)

Leanan, you are right!

Typo on my part. I _meant_ to say the book was written in 1966.

lack of success of the stimulus packages

Data support the view that the stimulus did work, i.e. readuced the depth of the recession. Those like Krugman who warned that the stimulus was too small (by at least half) were right. We only did enough to prevent the great recession from becoming a full blown depression. Politically, we are unable to do any more, so we are stuck on our current trajectory, where as you state the private sector can't do enough to bring us out. But with further/stronger stimulus off the table we just don't have a growth path available.

I agree that the situation would have been worse without the stimulus, although that is fairly difficult to prove. Krugman is correct if the primary goal is economic growth. But even with economic growth, we can a small bang for our buck with respect to employment. It takes more and more growth these days to get just a little bit more employment, not to mention the quality of the employment.

But the other part of this discussion is should we be emphasizing economic growth, especially when it does not seem to help employment all that much because of things like automation and outsourcing. Further, many of us believe that we need to find a way to take care of people without growth. We need to figure out how to have a reasonably satisfactory quality of life without emphasizing growth which cannot be maintained whilst addressing energy and resource constraints, and global warming issues.

If the goal is just growth or just employment, then the tools used are different than if the goal is providing a reasonable quality of life.

And I don't discount the possibility that none of this matters since we are all screwed regardless.

That agreement seems impossible to prove. How can one not also say, "the situation might have been a lot better with stimulus spent otherwise".

A sharp, hard crash might have made things "worse" this year, but much better twenty years from now.

For unprovable positions, all we have is posturing and models. Which is why politicians are in their element, and the money gets spent. Anybody else would say "too much money, too much risk" and walk away.


I couldn't resist;;

Private business will minimize costs which will continue to include minimizing unemployment despite the fact that this approach will come back to bite them. Henry Ford recognized this years ago.

Want to re-read this one again, and see if you still want it that way??

haven't figured out how to underline in the blockquote, but I think you meant "employment" in this case.

Which is better, a bunch of inefficiently leveraged employees or a few efficient ones, with many unemployed?

The real question perhaps is, is it possible to have everyone efficiently employed in a gainful manner?

Japan legislated some of the former, and the USSR seemed to have it raised to an art form (as do many bureaucracies)

I'd say, you can't have everybody inefficient, or there isn't enough to go around. I'm unsure that there are sufficient resources for everyone alive to day to work efficiently at anything.

So, perhaps, the optimal level of efficiency is that which has all people working, consuming a sustainable level of resources, and generating an acceptable standard of living for all. I suspect this is not solvable with the current population.

A corollary to this is compensation -- managing the spread between max and min wages is a healthy thing, while maintaining room for advancement and excellence. Taxing the top 20% based on the income of the bottom 20% would make for interesting incentives for employment.

Rockman, perhaps you are like most conservatives in the US in that you don't know the difference between Communism and Socialism. Communism is the extreme form of socialism in that communism requires that government own all property and all means of production. Less stringent forms of socialism, such as that in England after WW II, do not require the strict total control as seen in the Soviet Union, but can exist with more democratic forms of governance. To my mind, the most objectionable characteristic of communist government as exemplified by the Stalinist in the Soviet Union was the totalitarian dictatorship with it's associated police state.

The other extreme of a pure "free market" capitalism is also a failure, as it tends to ignore the problem of The Tragedy of the Commons in which what is best for the individual is bad for the general welfare. Our experience in the US is unusual in that at the beginning of the US after the Revolution, there was a large area of land and resources which had not been exploited. That situation no longer pertains as we on TOD are well aware. As a result, a free market system can not be relied on to distribute the resources to individual consumers in order to maintain the health and survival of the total population, including the old, the sick and the disabled. Our situation now includes an awareness of environmental limitations, knowledge which was unavailable to those who debated Free Market economics vs Socialism before WW II, debates which still resonate in the conservative minds of the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation and Glen Beck.

So the discussion becomes, how best to distribute those resources and deal with the environmental consequences of our consumption? So far, there appears to be no answer which is acceptable to the entire population...

E. Swanson

Money has to come from somewhere. Those who control that flow cannot help but become the power-brokers. Get rid of minimum wage and extended unemployment and a lot more people would find subsistence work. That's what we're headed to anyway -- we can't all be rich, no matter how hard we pretend, but we can all be poor.

I'm not against some redistribution and leveling of the opportunity field, but gov't giveaways is not the road to recovery or even sustainability. It's the road to totalitarianism.

I take it you've read Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" (1944). I recently finished that one, as well as his later book, "The Constitution of Liberty" (1960). The first book has become something of a required work among the extreme Right. The trouble is, Hayek was writing at a time just before WW II and his point of view appears to be heavily influenced by events after WW I as several governments in Europe underwent major changes, going from monarchies to more socialistic forms.

Those transitions were begun in the 19th century by intellectuals, including Marx and Engels. By the late 1930's there were several totalitarian regimes in power, so one might conclude that those were the result of experiments with socialism, whereas the real transition was a direct result of the fall of the previous empires governed by monarchs. Since the US has not been governed by a monarch for more than 200 years, I suggest that the conditions here are different and Hayek's general conclusions do not apply, at least not yet.

One important point which Hayek mentions but which the conservatives intentionally overlook is that the most socialistic organization in society is the military. From the day one enters military service, his/her every need is taken care of and his every action is governed by orders from above. The strict hierarchical structure which requires obedience to the chain of command is surely a "totalitarian" form and totalitarian governments always exist because of military style control. My conclusion is that the best way to prevent the onset of a totalitarian control is to minimize or eliminate the means by which that control is delivered to the people, ie, the military.

It's worth noting that the last chapter in Hayek's second book mentioned above is entitled: "Why I am not a Conservative". He nails the conservative mind set and explains why he isn't one of them. That's another point which the current band of radical conservatives isn't going to discuss. Hayek was also very careful to define what he means by "Liberty", saying that it means an absence of coercion. He also thought that governance was necessary and that The Rule of Law was a basic requirement of a free society...

E. Swanson

I agree with all the latter points, and that's why I'm a small-national, medium-state, larger-local gov't advocate. The reason that local gov'ts are small is they are controlled that way. Ditto for most states (CA excepted, for sure). There is no control of the national gov't since the Civil War cowed states into willingly giving up their rights in exchange for Fed money.

I am a conservative, but not a Republican, for exactly those same reasons. What is more conservative than "absence of coercion" and support for Rule of Law? A well-ordered society that rewards work and contribution and penalizes graft and sloth seems like a pretty good way to live to me.

Prior to the Wars of the Reformation and the Thirty Years War, the clergy was in power, and their legitimacy of power was due to their representaion of God. Those periods of total war broke the power of the clergy and established the nobility.

Prior to the French Revolution/Napoleonic Wars and World Wars I&II, the nobility was in power, and their legitimacy of power was due to inheitance by noble birth. Those total wars broke the power of the nobility and establshed the bourgeoisie.

The legitimacy of power of the bourgeoisie derives from ownership of wealth, i.e. property.

Power derived from property is now the dominant form in most countries, excepting mainly Islamic countries where clergy (Iran) and monarchs (Saudi Arabia) can still be found.

Following the next total war due mid 21st century, it is not clear what rationale will be used to legitimate power. However, the legitimacy of property is probably at its height and due to be replaced by something else.

Oh great. Your proposal is to embrace poverty and subsistence. We may be headed there but I don't see the point of getting there on purpose. Meanwhile, the most unproductive class is the financial sector.

A forthright embrace is far better than ignoring it or pretending it away. Take what can be sustainably produced, total, and divide it by the population -- that's what we need to get used to. It's less than what we have now...by 10x, probably.

Black Dog,

You're right in pointing out the much confusion/poor definition. Many peple don't realize that communism, facism, national socialism, & socialism all originally referred to economic systems, not to the polical systems that have become deeply associated with them. As ill-defined Examples, Hitler's "national socialism" (with heavy industrial involvement) deviated far away from the original mom-&-pop-store economic concept; while many socially accepted religious groups basically function as democratically run communist systems... heck, any monastic order is basically a communist (communal) economy... whether democratic or not.

dog - I know what the difference is between communism and socialism. What ts was describing would have not taken just a communistic structure but a rather extreme one. As far as the free market being responsible for "maintaining the health and survival of the total population, including the old, the sick and the disabled" it's not responsible for any of that nor was it ever. The people and their govt are responsible. That's always been the problem with liberals like you: you feel just because someone has something you do have then you have some God given right to have a share of it. As a voluntary member of our society I pay my taxes and take care of my charitable duties. Other than that I don't owe you or any other liberal anything. Free market efforts are done for the benefit of the folks involved in those efforts. Any side benefits that society receives from those efforts is just coincidental. As far as "the free market being a failure" that's rather comical given that everyone posting on TOD is a current beneficiary of that free market. The free market might not fit your liberal standards but then again there's no rule that says it has to.

Rockman, I don't think of myself as a "Liberal", what ever that word may mean these days. I do realize, as do economists, that in life there is a considerable element of chance, meaning that one's success or failure economically is not just a function of one's own efforts. The typical conservative thinks his success is purely the result of his own efforts, ignoring the many situations where he may have just been in the right place at the right time, such as picking a career path on leaving school that happens to pay well years later. Others who have not been so lucky, perhaps because of accidents or illness after which they could not return to work, are seen as losers by the successful Conservative, even though their situation is not their fault.

I think that anyone with any sense of compassion and social justice should accept the need for society to provide some care for those in need. Most folks in the US live in cities, thus lack the support from extended family and neighbors that one finds in rural areas. Yet, the reactionary conservatives seem to think it's not government's responsibility to help those folks, since they seem to want to kill Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. You say you pay your taxes, but aren't those programs precisely what we pay our taxes to achieve?

As for the failure of the "Free Market", I think it's well established that an unregulated market leads to the sort of excesses we've seen the past few years. There hasn't been a free market for a long time, for obvious reasons that were discovered long ago. The boom/bust economic cycle of irrational exuberance seems to be part of the human mind, as we quickly forget the last round of excess and begin the next round. Without regulation, the few greedy con artists would quickly skin the gullible, hovering every last dollar from the unprotected and the innocent.

Lastly, I submit that you do owe something to the rest of mankind, whether you admit it or not. We all use common resources, such as the air we breath and the water we drink. I think that you owe the rest of us in that we each have a duty not to pollute those resources. If you poison the water or the air, it causes harm to other people and the rest of the natural world as that water and air find their way into their surroundings. Decades ago, when I lived in California, I found that I could not tolerate the air pollution. I eventually left the state, since I found that I could not work because of the pollution. Worse, I later moved back to Atlanta, where the population growth and development had produced pollution levels which, on occasion, would reach that of California. As a result of these insults to my health, caused by others in pursuit of wealth, I think of myself as neither a Liberal or a Conservative, but as an Environmentalist.

EDIT: It's instructive to look at this description of Liberalism from Wikipedia. Notice the intimate connection between "Liberalism" and "Liberty". I suspect that you are probably a classical "Economic Liberal" in your approach to your business interests...

E. Swanson

Employment is so 20th century. We need to get over it and move on.

I agree, we need to find ways of empowering individuals to do work that is sustainable and helps support their local communities. Employment by corporations i.e. capitalism or employment by the state also known as communism are no longer viable paradigms in the 21st century for 7 plus billion humans.

Unfortunately there are probably no viable paradigms that will sustainably maintain 7 plus billion humans so the point may simply be moot.

In our community, it is mainly the retired that are contributing to the local community. They have the resources and the time to do this. There are so many good things that could be done but we are so hung up that someone,somewhere might get something for nothing.

I don't think the point is moot at all, Fred.

It's a central point, how we balance the private and public good. How we choose to handle power, both physical, political and labor energies.

How we can have all this work that needs to be done, and yet have so much unemployment..


Salad shooters, good. Insulating houses, if paid for by government, bad.
If something is produced by private enterprise, regardless of how trivial or destructive or worthless, it is considered good by definition. The employment is considered noble and virtuous. This attitude and belief system is leading us to hell on earth.

What is bad is forcing me to pay to insulate my neighbor's house through taxation/government, after I already paid my own money to insulate my own. The problem with government handouts is where does it end? Should I subsidize their rent, food, childcare, leisure, transportation, clothing etc, etc. The basic premise that you are missing is that government can't provide anything, without first taking it from someone else.

The difference between employment created by the salad shooter and government programs is that the salad shooter is supported by the voluntary spending of people who actually value the product enough to spend their own money on it. Government "employment" is created by confiscating the earnings of people in order to pay for things for their neighbors, who don't value what they are going to get enough to bother to spend their own money on it.

How about, I insulate my house and you insulate yours?

Damn, that's cold! I need a sweater..

So you want to have a nice country, but don't think you should help pay for it?

YOU're not paying for SOMEONE else's insulation, WE'RE all paying to make our COMMUNITIES more energy secure. YOU'RE not paying for MY kid to go to public school, your 'dues' and mine and theirs- are creating systems so that our society can function. Why should I pay for your son's rifle and airfare over to Afghanistan?

It's more than reasonable to challenge whether an expenditure is wise or not, but this 'Every person for themself, for their own folks' is so unimaginative and shortsighted, maybe we should let Wyoming become 'Hermitland', and those who prefer can live there on an A-la-carte plan, just paying for the things they want, and only helping those others that they feel a certain warmth towards. Let's see how that turns out..

It turned out pretty well actually... it made the US economy the largest in the world, and the US the richest country in the world. I'll gladly help pay my part of it, I just don't want to pay my part, AND your part, AND some other guy's part, etc. etc.

As to this...

Why should I pay for your son's rifle and airfare over to Afghanistan?

Because the hijackers all came from Afghanistan

Because the US Congress legally declared war against Afghanistan

Because Osama Bin Laden is likely to be found there

Because the US is creating a stable government in Afghanistan

Because the cost of our military excursion is so low in comparison to our overall budget/deficit

Hmmm... I'll have to get back to you on that one. Maybe you should ask Bush or Obama.

The best I can come up with is, since our government commited our military to Afghanistan, almost 10 years ago, for an indeterminate mission with an undefined timeframe, we have a moral obligation to properly equip those troops to fight. I don't feel much moral obligation to pay to upgrade your insulation however. I really think you should handle that one alone, thanks.

Well, you're too late on that one.

Most utilities offer subsidies for efficiency improvements, which must come from your electric bill as well as everyone elses.

So you are already paying for someone elses insulation.

It is certainly NOT bad if your neighbor would have difficulty paying for insulation out of their own resources and/or you would benefit from them using less energy and emitting less CO2.

Best Hopes for The Social Good vs. Selfishness uber Alles,


The appropriate solution would be to pay for insulation out of future energy savings, and simply have a decaying energy tax on the power bill. In times of plenty, do-gooders could individually or as the gov't help pay those off for those struggling.

Eliminating peaker plants would save all of us money, so better insulation actually is a "commons" to be shared, to a degree.

The trouble with hand-outs is they tend to be poorly targeted and disincent the middle class. Give me $5K or $50K and I'll put some money with it to upgrade my house. Cut my house loan and I'll eat out more. For many, and equity cut or a tax rebate changes nothing, as they have no matching cash -- the only guy who benefits is the loan holder who eats less of a loss when the bankruptcy still occurs.

I've already covered my $1500 credit this year..and could do so 3x over without much trouble..and could have done the same for rent houses last year and this year. Why aren't rent houses covered for efficiency upgrades, when the one getting the benefit is mostly the renter, not the landlord?

YES !!

I very much support a larger tax rebate (perhaps 30% first 1,500, 25% next $1,000, 20% next $2,500) *AND* including rental units in the program.

I would like to see a requirement for disclosure on rental units (basics - insulation, efficiency of a/c, refrigerator, water heater) so people at least know what they are renting.

Would have been MUCH better use than the $8,000 home buyer credit :-)

Best Hopes for More,


Maybe my neighbor should trade down for a cheaper house so that they can afford to insulate and heat it without drawing on my salary to do so.

What is bad is forcing me to pay to insulate my neighbor's house through taxation/government, after I already paid my own money to insulate my own.

How about this then:
What's bad is forcing me to pay for someone elses health problems. Let them figure out they need to eat better food/not put body parts in power tools like I did.
What's bad is forcing me to spend money on police - if the neighbors want protection they can go up on the roof with a sniper rifle to shoot trespassers like I do.
What's bad is forcing me to pay for the military - the military doesn't protect my business nor do I make money from it.

And the money shot:
What's bad is forcing me to pay for some rich dude's building that planes were flown into. I get no support from the government if my building is destroyed - why should theirs?

So insulation for houses is comparable to police protection, health insurance and the military? Really? My neighbor has bad Body Odor too... should the government pay for his deoderant also? His wife has bad breath too, maybe the government should pay for mouthwash and toothpaste for them. Think about how great the need is for toliet paper in this country. Can you imagine life without it? Maybe the government should pay for that too. Heck, we should just have the government provide everything, the stuff will just materialize out of thin air... I've heard that kind of economic system works really well.

So insulation for houses is comparable to police protection, health insurance and the military? Really?

Sure. You are the one saying 'let the neighbor pay for their own expenses'. You chose insulation. I chose different things.

My neighbor has bad Body Odor too... should the government pay for his deoderant also? His wife has bad breath too, maybe the government should pay for mouthwash and toothpaste for them. Think about how great the need is for toliet paper in this country.

Funny thing that - I see no need for your what you find personally to be covered by the Government. And interesting look into your frame of mind that you thing the government should pay so you are not personally offended.

My ELP suggestions from three years ago ("Cut thy spending and get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy"):


In my opinion, the unfortunate new reality is that we are going to see a growing labor surplus--against the backdrop of deflation in the auto/housing/finance sectors and inflation in food and energy prices. By reducing your expenses now, while you can do it voluntarily, you will at least be better prepared for whatever the future may bring.

Good advice for those who currently have a job. For those on near or minimum wage, reducing expenses won't be enough. For those who never made much money and are on long term unemployment, reducing expenses won't be enough. For the young who are just entering the labor force but can't find a job, that won't be enough.

I think you have provided good advice, advice which I generally live by. But sometimes for millions out there, as hard as they try, it just isn't good enough.

There was a time, in the not so distant past, when if you were unable to provide for yourself, you died. This was true throughout most of history. For millions of folks throughout history, no matter how hard they tried to provide food for their families, they were unable to provide enough, and people starved.

If the worst comes to pass, we will see these times again. Life isn't fair, tstreet. Right now, all over the world, people are starving to death. People are dying, and have died in the floods in Pakistan, through no fault of their own. Fires in Russia are destroying the grain needed to feed people.

The economic system we have in the US is not fair, nor is it perfect... its just better than any alternative that we have come up with up until now. In general, people don't starve to death in the US, except under very unusual circumstances. The same is not true under many if not most other government systems out there. Regardless, we will never come up with a system whereas any government can provide for all of the needs for all of the citizens (plus all of the non-citizen immigrants who enjoy unpaid benefits provided by others). Human needs are limitless, and when TEOTWAWKI happens, lots of needs are going to go unmet, and people are going to die, starve or meet other unfortunate ends. As you said

But sometimes for millions out there, as hard as they try, it just isn't good enough.

If you can't make it on what you are currently earning, or getting as unemployment, under our current system where life giving resources are available at the local store, imagine how much tougher it is going to be in times of shortage. What is inconvient now will be life threating then. I don't have an answer, other than to try to find some way to make it work for you... there are communes out there, even in the US where people can trade their labor for food and shelter, if you think that might be an answer for you. Those who are not just unable to find work, but in reality unwilling to perform work, are going to be some of the early casualities of the collapse, however.

"when you were unable to provide for yourself, you died.."

Extended Families, Tribes, Clans were the predominant form of Human society throughout most of our history. They kept together in a group BECAUSE they had better chances of survival when they were together to back each other up.

Your history books seem to have painted a wildly lonely picture of our race. I'd bet it's lonelier today, which is why such views are so persistent.

Extended Families, Tribes, Clans were the predominant form of Human society throughout most of our history. They kept together in a group BECAUSE they had better chances of survival when they were together to back each other up

Lets try a few examples shall we?

The Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомор; translation: death by hunger) was a famine in the Ukrainian SSR from 1932–1933, during which millions of inhabitants died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine.[1][2][3][4] Estimates on the total number of casualties within Soviet Ukraine range mostly from 2.6 million[5][6] to 10 million.[7] Primarily as a result of the economic and trade policies instituted by Joseph Stalin, millions of Ukrainians starved to death over the course of a single year(wikipedia)

Famine struck North Korea in the mid-1990s, set off by unprecedented floods. This autarkic urban, industrial society had achieved food self-sufficiency in prior decades through a massive industrialization of agriculture. However, the economic system relied on massive concessionary inputs of fossil fuels, primarily from the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. When the Soviet collapse and China's marketization switched trade to a hard currency, full price basis, North Korea's economy collapsed. The vulnerable agricultural sector experienced a massive failure in 1995–96, expanding to full-fledged famine by 1996–99. An estimated 600,000 died of starvation (other estimates range from 200,000 to 3.5 million)(wikipedia)

The Great Famine or Irish Potato Famine[1] (Irish: an Gorta Mór, IPA: [ənˠ ˈɡɔɾˠtˠə ˈmˠoːɾˠ], meaning "the Great Hunger";[2] an Drochshaol, [ənˠ ˈdˠɾɔxˌhiːlˠ], meaning "the bad times") was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852[3] during which the island's population fell by between 20 and 25 percent.[4] Approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland(wikipedia)

Owing to its almost entire dependence upon the monsoon rains, India is vulnerable to crop failures, which upon occasion deepen into famine.[59] There were 14 famines in India between 11th and 17th century (Bhatia, 1985). For example, during the 1022–1033 Great famines in India entire provinces were depopulated. Famine in Deccan killed at least 2 million people in 1702-1704...The first, the Bengal famine of 1770, is estimated to have taken around 10 million lives — one-third of Bengal's population at the time. Other notable famines include the Great Famine of 1876–78, in which 6.1 million to 10.3 million people died[60] and the Indian famine of 1899–1900, in which 1.25 to 10 million people died.[60] The famines continued until independence in 1947, with the Bengal Famine of 1943–44— even though there were no crop failures —killing 1.5 million to 3 million Bengalis during World War II(wikipedia)

In the mid-22nd century BC, a sudden and short-lived climatic change that caused reduced rainfall resulted in several decades of drought in Upper Egypt. The resulting famine and civil strife is believed to have been a major cause of the collapse of the Old Kingdom. An account from the First Intermediate Period states, "All of Upper Egypt was dying of hunger and people were eating their children." In 1680s, famine extended across the entire Sahel, and in 1738 half the population of Timbuktu died of famine.[45] Egypt suffered six famines between 1687 and 1731.[46] The famine that afflicted Egypt in 1784 cost it roughly one-sixth of its population.[(wikipedia)

I'll spare you the rest. I don't know what history books you read, but mine are full of incidents of great misery... try Famine on Wikipedia if you are willing to take off your rose colored glasses and see life for the difficult struggle that it really can be.

The speed with which these famines claimed their victims is the most impressive thing. When TSHTF, our depopulation will be sudden. Further, since lack of food weakens its victims, famine will create very little civil unrest - at least once it gets started. Initially, maybe not.


The economic system we have in the US is not fair, nor is it perfect... its just better than any alternative that we have come up with up until now.

The following have better economic systems than the good ole USA.

Norway (major oil exporter has about highest gas taxes in the world !)
Iceland (despite their own bubble)

We do not make even the top twenty.


Singapore could not be more different than a country such as Sweden. Singapore's per capita GDP is roughly 40% greater than Sweden.

Both, however, have better economic systems than the USA.


With the exception of France, Germany and Japan, which are small countries, those are all tiny countries. I doubt their aggregate population matches that of the US. A number of them are EU countries, which is instructive - if their approach doesn't even fit the rest of the EU and vault other EU countries up the list, when they are culturally and legally part of it, then maybe it doesn't fit the more alien US either. So, irrespective of the phony shock value of the top-twenty meme, the original point stands, which is that US people do far better on the whole than the vast, overwhelming majority of others.

That goes even more strongly when one considers systems that have been tried at scale, and possibly even more so when one considers systems that have been tried for long periods of time. It's often willfully forgotten that systems with high levels of public benefits can sometimes run for a few decades by, in effect, eating out capital assets, before things become visibly tattered and shabby to the point of raising controversy. And idealistic American tourists wandering in foreign lands usually fail to notice said controversy, not only in places where deplorable language skills are a factor, but willfully so, even in English-using places. Some people are just disposed to believe that life is all peaches and cream in every country bur their own, and that's that.

It's often willfully forgotten that systems with high levels of public benefits can sometimes run for a few decades by, in effect, eating out capital assets

A good description of the USA (especially with the Rs in control) bur not true of a single nation on that list. All are adding to their stock of useful, long lived infrastructure.


No, PaulS, that ("the US people do far better on the whole than the vast overwhelming majority of others") was not the original point. The original point was that the US system is better than any others that we know of.
I am constantly amazed how completely blind 99% of Americans are to ways in which other peoples / countries may have configured certain things better than the US. One example is health care. But it seems the US is completely unable and unwilling to look outside its own borders to see whether someone may, just may, have designed a better mousetrap.

The United States spent the 19th century expanding its borders, debating slavery, engaged in Civil War, and fighting Indians. It was relatively isolated and not engaged in the European developments in scientific, political, and sociological thought during that century. Although there was a large inward migration of skilled workers in the late 1900s and a migration of central European intellectuals in the first half ot the 20th century, the nativist, pre-Revolutionary derived political and business WASP elite remained, and still remains, intellectually backward.

Even today we use units of mass and length that are different from those used by the entire rest of the world.

There are 193 member states in the UN, plus Vatican City. If you list puts us above 48th place, we have a better economy than 75% of the countries out there.

As for your top 20, I'm half Swede, and my Swedish uncle/cousins who are farmers in the south complain bitterly about the taxes on business.

To Iceland...(wikipedia)

At the end of the second quarter 2008, Iceland's external debt was 9.553 trillion Icelandic krónur (€50 billion), more than 80% of which was held by the banking sector.[4] This value compares with Iceland's 2007 gross domestic product of 1.293 trillion krónur (€8.5 billion)...
The financial crisis has had serious consequences for the Icelandic economy. The national currency has fallen sharply in value, foreign currency transactions were virtually suspended for weeks, and the market capitalisation of the Icelandic stock exchange has dropped by more than 90%. As a result of the crisis, Iceland is currently undergoing a severe economic recession; the nation's gross domestic product decreased by 5.5% in real terms in the first six months of 2009.[7] The full cost of the crisis cannot yet be determined, but already it exceeds 75% of the country's 2007 GDP...
The Icelandic króna had declined more than 35% against the euro from January to September 2008.[8] Inflation of consumer prices was running at 14%,[9] and Iceland's interest rates had been raised to 15.5% to deal with the high inflation...
Iceland's GDP is expected by economists to shrink by as much as 10% as a result of the crisis, putting Iceland by some measures in an economic depression.[140] Inflation may climb as high as 75% by the end of the year.

Japan has been stuggling for 2 decades now, deflation and decreasing household income combined with very small increases or negative GDP growth.

France? Nationwide strikes, high taxes (43-44% of GDP!) and ask the younger generation how easy it is to find a job.

I could go on as well, but even if I spotted you the whole 20, tiny economies and all, that would still put the US in the top 15% in the world. I would note that Greece might have made your list at one point, due to their generous social benefits... Portugal, Italy, Spain seem to be missing as well. Same with all the socialist or communist countries of Eastern Europe, Russia, etc. Countries who were so good at providing for their neighbors/comrades. I haven't heard too many stories of people riding intertube rafts from Miami to Cuba, or wading across the Rio Grande to seek a job and a better life in Mexico either.

Iceland paid off all of their national debt in 2006. A bit better than the USA.

In 2008 they completed a hydroelectric dam that increased national generation by over 50%. It will last 400 years and for the first 40 years it will be used to produce 1.5% of the world's aluminum. No comparable investment in the US economy.

Over half of exports are fish, and Iceland claims to have the world's best fisheries management and sustainable catches. Certainly better than the USA fisheries management (see New England, Chesapeake Bay, California where once great fisheries have been destroyed).

Some private banksters with good political connections to the right created a financial disaster that indebted the nation. Just like the USA under Republican control.

Iceland has the second longest life expectancy (and socialized health care), the USA is about #32 in life expectancy. Iceland was #1 in the UN's Human Development index, now down to #3. USA down at #13 and dropping too.

Median income in the USA has been struggling in the USA since Reagan was elected. *ALL* income growth goes to the top few % in the USA. That is three decades, not two in Japan. The average American is not getting ahead, just like the average Japanese, but for longer than the Japanese.

The USA population growth is +0.9%/year, Japan 0% (soon -0.1%). Certainly better in Japan !

The USA need +0.9% GDP growth to just stay even, Japan does not.

The USA is NOT adding +0.9% to our public infrastructure every year. We are not even maintaining what we have ! Japan went into debt to build much more long lived infrastructure (debt they owe to Japanese citizens, not the Chinese and other gov'ts) and now have about as much well built public infrastructure as a stable population can use.

The USA blew it's surplus and went into debt for "optional" wars and temporary tax cuts. Debt we owe to China et al. LOTS of debt after 8 years of R control and nothing to show for it.

Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world and is #10 on Human Development Index (status of women drags them down).

Iceland and Japan, despite their problems, certainly have better economies than the USA.
So on for the others on the list.

And what is so bad about high taxes IF YOU AND SOCIETY GET BENEFITS from them ? In the USA, we have a minimal safety net (not even socialized medicine), poor education and crumbling public infrastructure to show for our taxes.

The USA has a worse economy (especially for those below the top 1% to 10%) than the other nations on that list.

Please note that Cuba, North Korea and Zimbabwe were not on the list, I am willing to concede that the USA has a better economy than those three.


You can't seriously keep arguing for Iceland...

The Icelandic government had a relatively healthy balance, with sovereign debt of 28.3% of GDP and a budget surplus of 5.5% of GDP (2007).[91] Debt is now 90 percent of GDP with a budget deficit(wikipedia)

On 28 October 2008, the Icelandic government raised interest rates to 18%, (as of April 2010, it is 8,5%) a move which was forced in part by the terms of acquiring a loan from the IMF. After the rate hike, trading on the Icelandic króna finally resumed on the open market, with valuation at around 250 ISK per Euro, less than one-third the value of the 1:70 exchange rate during most of 2008, and a significant drop from the 1:150 exchange ratio of the week before. Iceland has appealed to Nordic countries for an additional €4 billion in aid to avert the continuing crisis(wikipedia)

Take four $1 bills out of your pocket. Throw 3 of them in the trash. This is the equivilent of what happened to the purchasing power of the Icelandic krona. If you consider losing almost three-fourths of your purchasing power a sign of a good ecomony, I don't know what to say.
As you said, all this is in spite of not throwing away a bunch of money on two wars, which I agree was and is a huge waste of money.

France? Nationwide strikes, high taxes (43-44% of GDP!) and ask the younger generation how easy it is to find a job.

USA - combined tax rate of over 50%. Youngsters having trouble finding a job - other than the nationwide strikes - how is different than the US of A?

You are confusing combined marginal rates of taxation with total tax burden. This refernece should help:

List of Countries by Tax Revenue as a percentage of GDP

Note that the US rate is about 28% of GDP, whereas France is around 43% or more. Thats not a trivial amount... thats a 50% higher tax bill on average.

In a democracy, the people may decide to spend their money on what they want or need. They must pay for it. In the US of A we spend our money on the rich, and ask the poor to pay for it, later... That is NOT a conservative policy.

I may not agree with every program we in existence; what I disagree most strongly with is not paying for every program.

Since you cannot extract money from people who are out of work, or under employed, or under paid, the only people you can tax for it is the very wealthy. Who, by the way, enjoy the greatest benefits from the National infrastructure. And, whose employees should be covered by national health care!

We need to bring home all of our troops, from everywhere. Now! That would be a good start for savings. The money not spent on military hardware could be better spent on total restructure of our power grid, for a start. And for mass transit.

The money we waste on police, jails, military spending and highways is a disgrace. Better we tax than make illegal such drugs as marijuana, cocaine and alcohol (wait, we already did that one). And use the revenues in the medical system. I believe that fraud by doctors in the medicare / medicaid systems is a worse crime that some kid in the ghetto, with a hopeless future, using crack or dope to feel good. Maybe if we took care of our nation better, and provided a better measure of hope for those 'crackheads,' they would feel good and not need assistance from chemicals. Maybe if their mothers did not have to work, they could be home caring for their children, helping them to learn, and providing love and family guidance. But, that would mean paying their fathers more than $7 or $8 an hour, wouldn't it? And, that would mean profits down for the wealthy.

Well, I guess we all know the decisions we have to make. Profits for the rich; jails for the poor. And, gripe about those taxes to pay for the police, courts and jails!!!!

Hypocrisy rules.


The welfare state is dead, demographics will not support it. I hate how too many users on TOD try to turn peak oil into some sort of social engineering scheme.

On the other hand, the French government offers many more services out of that 43%.

Though I find myself suddenly dubious of the US figure. Is that Federal load only, or Federal and State? In either case, since individual states have different tax burdens (all the way down to the municipal level, in fact), is there a breakdown of these numbers by state?

if the lack of jobs is essentially a feature, not a defect of our economic system.

For the ownership class I think it is a feature. It makes would-be employees desperate and willing to sttle for peanuts.

The government has had to intervene since there is no hope in relying on the private sector for jobs.

Earlier this week I read that business is hiring at a slighly better than normal pace than usual for this point in a recovery. The problem is that government, especially state and local is laying people off even faster. The people who want to "starve" the government beast are getting their way.

Public agencies have outsourced support jobs while keeping the plum jobs on the public dole. 20 years of plenty have grown the bureaucratic staff hugely. Private companies lay-off deadwood and tighten belts during downturns, so the gov't should expect no less.

Why does gov't grow? Over time, and with larger population, the efficiency should grow, and a smaller percentage should suffice. The reason it grows is because it can, as the only agency who can both run perpetual debt and enforce tax collection on anybody (except multinational corps, who of course can move).

The interesting part will be when gov't pensioners start seeing cuts. Whose job is to "make good" on past promises that should not have been made?

Why does government grow?

Thomas Homer-Dixon explained this in The Upside of Down. Government grows because, nine times out of ten, when a new problem crops up, the most efficient response is ... to manage it. But this is a ratchet: management effort goes up, but it almost never goes down again, short of collapse.

That means more ever-more regulation, and ever-more regulators. Cars are causing traffic accidents? Require people to have drivers' licences, and add police. There are still accidents? Set up traffic regulations, and add police. People are killed by collapsing buildings? Set up building codes and add building inspectors. A river catches fire in Ohio? Create the Environmental Protection Agency. Legal drugs cause birth defects (thalidomide)? Beef up the Food and Drug Administration. More illegal drugs are getting into the country? Beef up Customs and Border Patrol. Some terrorists crash planes into buildings? Start the Department of Homeland Security.

Worse, the interactions between problems and between agencies mean that the management effort has to increase more than in proportion. But for each new problem, as it comes along, the easy, cheap thing to do is to start to "manage" that problem.

(The global financial crisis is a fine example of what happens when regulation is removed after it was found to be necessary.)

As time goes by and things get more complicated, expect government to get bigger and bigger.

And as the reaction to utterly insignificant risk becomes ever more strident and moralizing in tone, expect government to get bigger and bigger still.

Legal drugs cause birth defects (thalidomide)? Beef up the Food and Drug Administration.

Thalidomide was not approved in the US of A by the FDA. The birth defects were elsewhere.

I wonder if jobs will ever come back and if the lack of jobs is essentially a feature, not a defect of our economic system. The ability of the number of jobs to rebound, even in the face of overall economic growth, has been a feature of our economy for at least the last ten years.

Without any humor intended, if this is a new equilibrium, then perhaps 'Peak Jobs' has occurred.

There may be no remedy, as we have abstracted much of hunter/gather society from food to money.

If people cannot hunt/gather enough money, they may perish, just as our ancestors did if they could not get enough prey or grow enough food....

The problem that most people don't seem to grasp is that it doesn't take anything near full employment to produce all the crap and ten times more than we need. This is called "productivity", and it's driven by large amounts of cheap energy.

When the cheap energy goes away, well...

I fully appreciate what you are saying. Trying to truly understand what is involved in "productivity" is an interesting topic by itself. See the thread below:

I have been on the phone almost all day, okay, I have been on the phone a lot today, mostly to people I know, but I have handed out my number to several dozen others, and exchanged contacts. All the people I have talked to today have money enough to buy food, no homeless people.

But not everyone that is classed as unemployed, are.

There is the underground cash for a days work all over this area and it is almost all US citizens. I don't know about the hispanics that I know, that topic hardly comes up. We mostly talk about family gardening and work on the yards or houses we own-rent-bankowned etc.

There are two kids( younger than me, you're a kid, or needing a bit more parenting from some other folks not your parents) That I know, I met Sherie through a friend of my Ex-wife(3rd). We hit it off, she knew D&D and I used to be a DM. Her boyfriend works under the table as it were. His brother does too. Half their friends do as well, I only know by sight 2 of their friends, whom I have added to my (these people need help from time to time list, please keep track of them, and offer what help you can , note to self listINgs)

Money is tight around this household of mine, my father out of the kindness of his heart has helped Sherie and her boyfriend a little to many times, when he realized he was behind on one of his own bills. ( he double pays most of them, but his way of thinking I don't know if he was behind his double payment or his single payment ) It was enough to realize that we still have our own bills to pay, and then one more person's whom I had spoken for paying. I knew I did not have the money, and Dad has been helping them because I had given my word, and he had told them as well "Don't Worry About It"

Crunch time happened, and it happened to not only us here, but to half the people I have as friends that I reconnected with today, not to mention the lady who owns the pool hall I go play pool at, her father died, and I did not catch that till now,( typing here, thinking in my head of what to say looking back I realize the bartender, said a friend of hers died, her boyfriend is Debbie's Son, whose father died, which I just found out tonight, 16 days after the fact, even though I was there on the 6th or 7th..

The world is F----- Up. I can't tell you the answers and I am a Christian. Don't look to me to tell you what to do! Or do!

As Yoda said, yada yada yada.

LOL sometimes you just have to back up and sit and let the world stream on by and relax, like I did surveying the Bar, and all the things going on it in, sitting in the Owner's Chair.

I don't own the bar, I am a loyal customer, I know the owner and she has my Phone number if she needs help and knows to call me if she does. Yet I find out 16 days later that her dad died. Paradox you might think.

Nope, I knew he was on deaths door, and I had already let her know who I trusted, the same 3 folks I do, she does. Chaos, it is and a paradox too, but I don't worry about many things, even when I am in handcuffs. I just don't.

Yoda might understand that one.

Jokuhl you'll know the quote I am trying to think of, the youngs I was talking to this evening( last evening the 19th) did.

Hugs from the sorta unemployed state of Arky-saw.
BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

Half the people I know live in trailers down here.

Hi t,

re: Peak oil and less availability of energy slaves could eventually help fix the unemployment problem

Well, there's doing things with pay and doing them without pay. Something will be "fixed", but it's not clear that being paid for work is going to happen.

I was quite interested in Dimitry Orlov's observation (can't quote it off the top of my head) about the "collapse" of the FSU and the fact that (according to him) people pretty much stayed put, because housing was guaranteed. This promoted social stability.

This seems critical - preserving shelter. It's kind of strange to think about. What percentage of the population would have to become homeless/(without shelter they can pay for) before...? What?

Also, assuming "localization" is the operating principle (de facto), then getting there sooner, rather than later, with people able to have a basis for attempting to...(well, it boggles the mind to think about: re-localizing everything that we need. But, in any case, secure shelter would be a good starting point.)

The whole situation is not good. I'm starting to see it first hand. People who would take anything as a job can't find work (at least nothing that would cover basic living costs).

Orlov's thought experiments are taking form as real life nightmares.

Denninger says this is recession territory. There won't be a double dip because we never left the recession in the first place.

Oh, but just last week, CNBC was raving about the great earnings reports. Earnings good. Employment not so good. What is wrong with this picture?

Earnings are currently "great" because companies have cut expenses (including employees) as much as they possibly can without affecting their short-term ability to get revenue. This is why the official productivity stats have increased so much over the last couple of years.

The problem with this, which even Wall Street is beginning to notice, is that cutting short-term expenses, if it goes on for too long, will cut into longer-term revenue. Just as with oil production, any company has internal projects and research and development that must continue in order to deliver mid to long-term efficiencies and/or new products. These efforts are usually the first things to get cut from the budget in an economic downturn. There is also the problem that remaining employees can only work so hard for so long to keep productivity high when there is a shortage of labor. We are seeing now that the official productivity numbers are down, illustrating that we are now at this point.

When earnings are up but productivity is down then it is a pretty good indication that companies have cut past the muscle and into the bone. The only options left to them then is to either hire more people or to face reduced revenues. Neither is good for future earnings.


The conservative solution would be to take two or three low paying jobs. Just cut off all unemployment and let people starve. That is the free enterprise approach which is so much in vogue these days amongst the Republicans and the Tea Partiers. Dieoff now!!

At this point long-term unemployment is welfare. At least call it what it is.

Food stamps prevents starvation -- getting beyond subsistence existence is not guaranteed. Like it or not, without cheap energy and available resources, it's going to be hard to support the current population the way it wants to be supported. It'll be harder if fewer are doing the work.

If I'm paying you to stay home, could you at least come cut my grass or babysit my kids? I guarantee that when my job goes away I'd help you do your chores in exchange for feeding and housing my kids.

A lot comes down to managing expectations, and the population of today expects too much, and won't settle for subsistence.

There is a bit of a blind spot in the "Conservative" wing, but I don't think your idea is really any better than theirs as it would be perceived as unfair.

How about this for an idea: a universal $5K/person tax credit. You file your taxes as per standard and at the end of the process $5K/person you are filing for is subtracted from taxes owed/added to your return.

Perfectly fair, everyone gets the same amount. Yeah, I can hear the whines about "welfare moms" having kids just for the credit already, but since it would be replacing a vast bureaucracy established to make sure people aren't cheating on welfare with the existing bureaucracy dedicated to making sure they aren't cheating on their taxes I think that would be a net gain. Maybe we can put the savings into better schooling for those kids...

as much as i love bashing tea baggers, would it be preferable to go through dieoff sooner, or later? and if one is preferable, why?

personally, i'd say dieoff later, at least sometime after i've lived a full life. but that's just because i don't want to starve to death, which is clearly a selfish and unreasonable argument.

on the flip side, dieoff sooner might mean fewer people starve, because the population wouldn't have a chance to grow larger while deferring natural consequences, and we'd chew through and spoil fewer natural resources because we have less time to do it.

then again, the argument could be made that you can't really sidestep natural limits for any amount of time, which means when we exceed those limits there will be dieoff and when it happens is irrelevant.

i don't see any clear winner, do you? <- not a sarcastic question, i honestly want to know if my reasoning is confused.

While I believe that dieoff will occur, I don't know when it will occur and I understand the problem with propping up societies that are exceeding their resource base. I am going to die off relatively soon as I am 63, so I am not sure I am very much part of the equation either way.

The problem, however, is that we are spending tens of billions of dollars trying to stimulate the economy in part to increase unemployment. It does not seem to be working. Maybe if we spend a trillion more, we can move the needle a bit.

But isn't this rather inefficient. The main problem, as I see it, of unemployment is lack of money for the person who is unemployed. I am retired, so in that sense I am unemployed. But it is not a problem because I have sufficient funds to support myself.

If we define the problem as employment and not income, then we will continue to spend trillions to stimulate the economy. It just seems more efficient to just spend money on people directly. Besides, I think that the stimulus program as currently conceived, is counterproductive with respect to peak oil and global warming.

We could of course just do nothing and make unemployment worse and more painful. That would probably just lead to mostly misery and not so much dieoff.

The concern, however, seems to be that we not prop up the poor. That is a double standard. The big bucks are being spent propping up the rich. I would rather feed people than feed yachts.

Link up top: Brazil May Price Oil at $10-12 in Petrobras Swap, Estado de S. Paulo Says

You have heard the old expression; "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Well the Brazilian government is telling Petrobras that one barrel of oil in the tank is worth about seven in the ground. But Petrobras is having none of it. They say it takes about 14 barrels in the ground to be worth one in the tank.

The Brazilian government wants to sell the pre-salt oil in the ground for $10 to $12 a barrel but Petrabras only wants to pay half that amount, $5 to $6 a barrel. And Petrabras hopes to sell enough shares of the company to pay for the oil in the ground. And if the oil is just not there? Well, only the shareholders will be out any money.

Tune in next year for the next chapter of this grand pre-salt oil scheme.

Ron P.

Ron -- Here's a little insider look of the worse shareholder ambush when it comes to buying all those "proved' reserves in the ground. I won't use actual names so as to protect the guilty. Company A is brand new and they have a real spiffy reserve report showing that the X Field has Y millions of bbl of recoverable oil that some stupid major oil company left behind. So the IPO raises around $290 million to buy the field. A year later a few new wells showed how very wrong the reserve report was (When I original studied the report I threw it in the garbage after 15 minutes...my engineer had run this field at one time). Company A took a $250 million right down and the stock went into the toilet. But the company was in great shape: they had no debt and a small but proven reserve in the ground. A few weeks after the right down the bank gave Company A nice fat line of credit. Going forward Company A had a very good biz plan and grew significantly over time. Of course the original shareholders were burned to death financially. A company with no assets other than an obviosly bogus report got folks to swap the $290 milliong for some pieces of paper that cost a few thousand dollars to print. Is this a wonder country! And I'm sure you're curious: No...the management of the Company A owned very little of the original IPO. But they did gobble up a good bit of the stock when it sank to pennies per share.

And the great thing: it was all legal since every IPO carries the same risk statements: we guarantee nothing with regards to reserve viability.


Thanks for pointing out the not-so-obvious.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Well the Brazilian government is telling Petrobras that one barrel of oil in the tank is worth about seven in the ground.

or an apple in the hand is worth 7 oranges over the next 30 years(after operating costs, of course).

UAE Commuters also do NOT want to pay more for gasoline

As much as the world market price (plus zero taxes)

As one said ""This will make living in Ras Al Khaimah and working in Sharjah or Dubai more expensive".



And in related (?) news, the Founder and Owner of Blackwater Security is moving to Abu Dhabi. Note that Halliburton moved their HQ to Dubai a couple of years ago.


"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"


I was intrigued by the discussion of oil production in North Dakota and how that has been viewed by some as a game changer.  Looking at daily oil production, it's clear that it has taken off since 2005.

And if you look at the daily production per well since 2000, you could think that some kind of magic (i.e. fracking) has taken place as per-well production has more than doubled.

But from a longer perspective it's clear that current per-well production, while up from its low point, is not totally extraordinary -- especially when compared to the earliest years of production.  In fact, today's productivity per well is just a bit more than what was achieved in 1980.  What is significant is that today's per-well production has dramatically reversed (at least temporarily) a long-term decline pattern.

I think it's safe to say that fracking was responsible for increasing well productivity from it's low point in the early 2000s. Those who claim that technology can at least delay peak oil will no doubt view this as supporting their argument. But in terms of total production, perhaps just as important (or more important?) is the number of wells.

So we have a new technology and increased drilling, both coinciding with higher world oil prices.  The CERA camp will cheer, and not without reason.  However, here's my question. How high will North Dakota production rise before it plateaus and begins to decline again?  Previous peaks were seen in 1963 and 1984, both followed by gradual declines.  Will the current hockey stick continue much longer?  The new super straws are sucking the oil out at an increasing rate -- but is the resource large enough to support this increased extraction rate for many years to come?

Nice summary King. And to add one more point to your theme: While prodcution per well has risen significantly so has costs. Don't have the exact numbers but it's probably safe to say the new wells cost at least twice as much as the old vertical wells and more likely 3X. So the oil is there and can be produced...but at a cost. As long as long as oil prices stay up ND will keep rocking along. But let those prices slide and we'll see repeat of the crash the shale gas drillers suffered when NG prices collapsed.


I totally believe what you are saying about drilling costs. And the CERA folks would be cheerful to hear one of us admitting that higher prices can spur drilling and use of expensive technology. After all, that's their mantra, isn't it?

My issue is what happens regardless of price? Peak Oilers understand that higher prices don't create oil in the ground. At what point does depletion in North Dakota reach the point where decline sets in no matter what the price of oil goes to? Sucking it out faster should, I think, hasten the approach of such a decline. But who knows how long things can go on as they have been? If anyone has a clue I'd appreciate hearing it.


drilling and completion costs (d&cc) are all over the map also. some companies are drilling 1280 acre drilling units (~10,000 ft laterals) with 30 or 36 or whatever frac stages(intervals) in that 10,000 ft lateral. those wells run in the $8 million range and on up.

other companies have drilled hundreds of 640 acre units with a few or zero frac stages. that is right unstimulated. those wells were in the $3 - $5 million range in about '07-08. relatively few of those are being drilled today because the parshall field has been drilled up.

i doubt anyone can drill and complete a 10,000 ft lateral with only a few frac stages for less than $ 5 million, so i would put d&cc in the $5 - 10 million range. these costs are going up because of limits on crews and equipment available and the intense demand.

the best wells dont require stimulation, a couple of examples:petro-hunt usa 2d with a cumulative of over 1 million barrels drilled in '06 with a 5000' lateral and the quintessential bakken hz well, the moi 33-11h with a cumulative of about 370k barrels drilled in '87 with a 2000' lateral.

there are some more current wells that have been drilled within the last few months that have encountered a regional fracture or fault system that are completed with zero frac stages and appear to be in the same league.

and the back story is land costs. state leases have recently gone for $6000 per acre, adding $7.7 million for a 1280 acre unit.

As I noted while we were waiting for the USGS to release their assessment of recoverable reserves from the Bakken, this play reminds me of the hype surrounding the Austin Chalk in Texas, back in the Eighties.

Is it possible that ND production growth will be limited by available manpower/rigs to get the holes drilled? Or will the increasing cost of drilling and leasing slow things down? Or does this trend just have too much juice to slow down anytime soon until it crashes?

yes, yes and yes, imo.

contractors will have to raise prices if they cant get workers to move there because of the lack of housing or as some are doing, provide housing.

i think sanity will return, unless of course oil prices continue to rise, then things will get curiouser and curiouser.

the trend has a lot of juice, a little like a wildfire, but the wildfire will eventually burn itself out. almost without exception the companies in this play are selling stock, going into debt, selling assets, whatever to raise capital. a drop in oil price or the cold hard reality of the decline curves will put some cold water on the wildfire.

jmo, of course, all.

Here's another odd thing about ND oil production. This table shows totals for ND oil production from June 09 to June 10. One column shows totals that exclude "confidential production". The other column shows totals that include "confidential production". The difference between the two isn't very big until March of this year and at present it stands at 1,520,830 barrels!

What the heck is "confidential production"?

And notice that the numbers that exclude confidential production peaked in March of this year. What's going on here?

Month Exc. Conf. Inc. Conf. Diff

Source: https://www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas/stats/statisticsvw.asp

I got the answer, just got off the phone with the Dept. of Mineral Resources in North Dakota. "Confidential Production" is anything that is produced within the first six months from SPUD date. This production is not supposed to be reported, and for the county-by-county report, it isn't. But it IS included in the overall monthly production statistics, so it's easy to determine what it is. The "confidential" numbers are then added back into the monthly by county after six months have passed, but I get the sense that this rule if followed somewhat approximately.

Bottom line, the county numbers are not reliable for the most recent months of production. But, I find it interesting that there is any period of time during which production reporting is allowed to go unreported to the public. I really have to wonder why that would be.

operators are allowed to keep their well information confidential for a period of 6 months. confidential status is requested from the ndic and different operators start this period at different times, some when the permit is issued, some when the well is started and some when the well is completed.

production data from a confidential well is not available, but sales data is available with a subscription. there is a little more than one month delay before production is posted on the website.

part of the reason for the jump in march sales data is because that is the first month many of these wells produced. many wells were drilled in the fall and winter, but frac'ing operations all but shut down in the winter because of the cost and difficulty of frac'ing in cold temperatures. some of these wells require 70,000 barrels of water for frac'ing and the water has to be kept warm for the polymers to work. the logistics of getting that much water on location and kept warm just makes it too expensive to even attempt.

i have a stack of previous monthly production(and sales) reports going back to '08. if any of these would be of use to you, just email me at elwoodelmore(at)yahoo(dot)com.

From link above:

Our neighbours are always on our family’s back about being more eco-conscious – we drive a 4x4 (we live in the country), have four children and can afford plenty of holidays abroad. They’re a smaller family who prefer camping and growing their own vegetables. Short of moving, how can we call a truce?

One way to get the eco-facists off your back is to change your behavior. Ditch the 4x4 and long-distance holidays, and use birth control. Yes, it's that easy.

What did country people do before 4x4s?

We moved up here with 2 V Dub vans. It's hard to beat them, except in a race.

Think about a bit of PR-control from the other side, too.

You're saying 'my way or the highway, just do it.', when these folks wrote in asking for a truce.

Is it reasonable to suggest that it's a journey of at least a few hundred 'steps' to get there (if not a thousand miles), and that maybe some of the first steps, if we are going to be smart and strategic about this, are not simply calling them 'horrible' and demanding that they change everything?

The 'Uncompromising Shove-fest' that sometimes becomes the approach of the Eco-warriors (and any other intense advocate in this culture) is a very energy-wasteful approach, since it clearly inspires so much pushback, ingrains resistance actually, it kills the conversation and the relationship, and is, in fact part of the very approach of the systems that we're hoping to supplant.

You listen to Master Yoda.. yes..

Yoda: "You will know... when you are calm, at peace, passive. .. You have to unlearn what you have learned.."

This note is to Christian Bonanno.

I sent you mail to the last known e.mail address. If you see this, my email is in my profile, I'd really like to keep the conversation going.

Hugs from charles in arkansas.

What I meant to say but was being rushed by others, is that your email pinged back as no longer out there.

Just checking, seeing as it was working when we first chatted a few months ago( or year or more ago).

Hugs from an Arky.

Sorry that is to cute of a pun to pass up, I did not mean it like it sounds, or reads, honest folks, that's what they call Arkansas natives, and I never thought of myself as one, but I was conceived in North Little Rock. Dad was not in the military then, but had to get back in because money was to tight, and the Air Force took him back, no questions asked. The next number of years were spent traveling the globe for him and us.

I was born in Biloxi Mississippi I always felt that was my native land( or earth, but you know)

Hugs from a Mississippi State University Landscape Architect wanna be.

Artificial meat? Food for thought by 2050

Artificial meat grown in vats may be needed if the 9 billion people expected to be alive in 2050 are to be adequately fed without destroying the earth, some of the world's leading scientists report today.

One of the gloomiest assessments comes from a team of British and South African economists who say that a vast effort must be made in agricultural research to create a new green revolution, but that seven multinational corporations, led by Monsanto, now dominate the global technology field.

"These companies are accumulating intellectual property to an extent that the public and international institutions are disadvantaged. This represents a threat to the global commons in agricultural technology on which the green revolution has depended," says the paper by Professor Jenifer Piesse at King's College, London.

Is engineered 'Frankenfish' coming to the nation's table?

With a global population pressing against food supplies and vast areas of the ocean swept clean of fish, tiny AquaBounty Technologies Inc. of Waltham, Mass., says it can help feed the world. The firm has developed genetically engineered salmon that reach market weight in half the usual time. The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve what would be the nation's first commercial genetically modified food animal. ..."This is the threshold case. If it's approved, there will be others,"

Why BHP Wants Potash

“Potash, for all intents and purposes is food,” Vincent Andrews, the agriculture analyst for Morgan Stanley, told DealBook. “Because without potash you are not making corn and soybean and without corn and soybean you are not making chicken or beef and that’s what people want to eat.”

There is nothing like a good Friday Night Fish Fry. Franken-Fish might be a good addition.

Next up, a Franken-Pig "that reach market weight in half the usual time" and that slices itself up into bacon (mmmmuuuuhhh... bacon).

Sort of like the cows at the Restaurant At The End of The Universe.

Yumm... I like those cows.


Ah, Zaphod? ...the Heart of Gold? Where is it?

We could really use that infinite improbability drive about now.

Statistics of proven reserves from the OPEC countries - very improbable.

Abiotic oil - even more so.

Trickle down economics actually working... now that will power the Heart of Gold!

The reason our economic ship is sinking is because the Government tried to float it by putting the water in the boat instead of in the sea.

I feel like a bunch of flowers... or a basket of yarn.

Z... time passes


You're starting to sound like Marvin the Paranoid Android ;)

Marvin was actually Clinically Depressive, that's why I related to him so well...

The End is Near.


and have a nice day...


I think it should read:

"The End Is Here."

At least for the financial system.

Just don't say anything. It might interfere with some of the Grand Delusions we discuss here on TOD on a daily basis.

(You have a nice day too, iggy.)

I think the second Great Depression is going to mean few will see any need for an energy transition, orderly or not.

Yes, being hungry and homeless does that to people.

Former pie-eyed optimists planning our energy future will instead be preoccupied planning their next meal: "what weeds in my yard can I eat" or "Hey, that neighbor kid still looks chubby....(hhhmmmm neighborkid ~drool).

No, I was thinking of the effect of recession on oil consumption. Supply is not going to be a problem as long as the economy is in such bad shape. I think we are at peak oil...but no one will notice.

I really am not so sure how it might go.

If demand drops because of depressed economic activity it might seem like supply is not a problem.

With a financial collapse oil supplies might become a big problem for many nations.

Is so, all bets are off I guess. There might be some sort of peaceful return to relatively normal trade after our Dear Leaders cobble together another version of Jekyll, Bretton, Woods & Hyde. Or there could be more war. Who knows.

But for most regular people, I agree, they will never know what hit us either way.

If oil was priced at $10 per barrel would the economy be in such bad shape? US oil consumption started falling in the peak year of 2005. Product supplied has fallen by 10% since 2005 and oil prices have risen 10% (EIA annual data 2005 vs. 2009). That isn't a relationship that will allow an economic recovery. Supply is a huge insurmountable problem. I do get your point, though :)

If oil were priced at $10 per barrel how many oil producers would go off-line?

How much wood would a wood chuck chuck for a measely $10 a barrel?

As was noted here years ago: it will always be above ground factors.

Mind you, there is a possibility that the reason the recession is so persistent is because oil supplies are limited sufficiently by geology that any move to break out bumps the oil price up knocking the economy back down again. But it will always be "demand is down", "lack of investment", or some other non-geological reason.

From the Archives

Iraq Shatters Some Myths About Oil - NYT - August 12, 1990

Like a thunderbolt, Saddam Hussein has shattered the benign illusion of peaceful, uninterrupted world trade in oil. We should be glad that the message has come now, not later. Better to have prices surge to $30 a barrel today, than to $60 under the same scenario in four or five years.

Since the 1985 low point, world demand for oil produced by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has rebounded by seven million barrels a day. The rapid rise parallels the 1966-70 pattern, which was followed by the first oil price shock a few years later.

At about 23 million barrels a day, demand for OPEC oil is still moderate. However, if recent trends continue, by the mid- or late 1990's demand could be back to the daily peaks of 30 million barrels reached in 1973 and 1979. With market power clearly on OPEC's side, we would then be set up for a full-scale repeat of the price shocks of the 1970's. By breaking into the cycle early, Saddam Hussein has probably helped us avoid a more severe crunch down the road.

You know 'class warfare' blues made me think about something. How much oil and food does a 'tyrant' like Imelda Marcos use? Politics aside for a moment, how much petroleum and foods could she really consume? She was just 1 person. If her driver stole some gas and a turkey, would the numbers now belong to him. My point is this, I am thinking there has been some brainwashing or at least desensitizing me to the fact that at some level, our consumption is not all that varied as it relates to status. Yes, I ride my bike everywhere and Al Gore probably drinks the stuff like a Conehead, but the std dev from the mean in the US is smaller than anywhere else isn't it? If not, where? Where is the biggest 'middle class' in the world?

Income inequality is the term you're looking for. Japan or Finland and some central-European countries would be the places to consider -- certainly not the US.


I followed up on some econophysics work concerning labor productivity in Japan recently and came up with an interesting model. Whatever income inequality that gets measured certainly also shows up as a productivity inequality. Humans will show huge variability in skills and motivation and that shows up in productivity and profits.

I could easily get an equivalent R/P number from this curve and if it agreed with the published income inequality value it would definitely demonstrate that you get paid according to your productivity, i.e. equitable profit-sharing (at least in Japan).

Economist warns of slowdown in Chinese oil-demand growth

If Chinese demand growth stops, “much of the expectations and plans made by energy experts and the oil industry will need to be reexamined and conclusions changed,” Fesharaki says in an August report.


Harper to New Brunswick: Sucks to Be You....

Delayed N.B. reactor gets no new funds: PM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not committed to offering any new federal money to cover the cost of overruns associated with delays on the $1.4-billion Point Lepreau refurbishment project.


NB Power is paying more than $20 million a month in added fuel costs with the reactor still offline. The provincial government has argued the federal government should pick up the tab on those bills.


AECL is more than two years behind schedule.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2010/08/19/nb-point-lepreau...

The sad thing is that the two or so billion dollars spent on the Point Lepreau refurbishment thus far could have been invested in various DSM initiatives that would have allowed the Province to save enough electricity to retire this turkey for good.


DSM = Demand Side Management. Had to look it up...

Time To Terminate Western Civilization Before It Terminates Us
Western civilization has been in decline at least since 1979, when world per-capita oil supply peaked coincident with the Carter Doctrine regarding oil in the Middle East.

Reminds me of Mahatma Ghandi, when asked what he thought of western civilization: "Oh" he saif, "I think that would be a great idea!"

I looked at the Wikipedia MegaProjects site and noticed that it hasn't apparently been updated since January of 2010?
Anyone have any idea when the site might be updated with data showing the expected delays and cancellations, particularly in deep water since the BP well problems?
Anyone else who would like to see someone with the technical knowledge (and time) put together a comparable site listing expected declines in existing fields?
If we don't know what the decline amounts per year are, it makes the knowledge of increases much less valuable for trying to determine expected production (and export) volumes in the future.

I had a different project going last year with Sam Foucher but I have a feeling that he has been involved with higher priority family matters. So I haven't bothered him much any more.

I am certainly interested in the MegaProjects but right now the analysis field is wide open and I have more than I can handle in that particular candy store. My impression of is that you can attract more people to a basket-weaving contest in Podunk, Wyoming than getting people to do serious analytical work on resource depletion.

I can certainly understand the work overload problems.
I would like to say how much I do appreciate all the work the people on TOD and MegaProjects have done to supply the rest of us with useful valuable information.

yes thanks to the Megaprojects team.

For me, this is not work but a fun hobby. It only seems like work overload because there is so much interesting analysis to choose from that other stuff gets left out. That's why I called it a candy store, in that there is only so much that you can gorge on.

Maybe I should have said,

Overpopulation, over-consumption (throw-away society), and growth in general is the actual disease, and peak oil is one of many symptoms.

If we had less people, we would still run out of oil, but it would take a lot longer.

Overpopulation is the root of all evil.

Different subject,

My username is supposed to be lesSismore but I guess I didn't press down hard enough on the key.

It bother's me everytime I log on.

Log off of TOD, sign up as a new poster using a different email address and use your preferred moniker lesSismore.

Well, LesIsMore is a cooler handle, anyway. Think Schumacher.

Being an old guy Les and more reminds me of an old (at least so the story goes) epitaph on a gravestone at "Boot Hill"...

"Here lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a 44. No Les, no Moore."


On to something a little bit more serious. It seems like the economy is flat. There's just no oomph. The stock market tanked today, with the dow losing 144+ on bad unemployment news.


Along these lines, I was wondering today if this post peak oil decline we are on could lead to a U.S. only collapse? The reasoning behind that being, the substantial need for this economy to run on cheap fuel, in part due to the way the country was developed, i.e. mass suburbia, along with the lack of electrified lines. Europe seems to be able to handle a much higher fuel charge via higher taxes, and Chindia are still coal based economies.

So is it possible that the post peak oil impending collapse will be a U.S. phenomenon only? Obviously other associated economies will suffer, but will they necessarily also collapse? If the U.S. did collpase, don't you think China would jump on the chance by shipping over 10's of millions of their citizens to secure the land for China?

Parts of Europe would collapse too, take a look at Greece.

DOE Announces Nearly $120 Million to Advance Innovative Weatherization Projects, Highlights Progress in the Program Nationally

WASHINGTON, DC--(ENEWSPF)--August 19, 2010. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today award selections for approximately 120 organizations across the country that will receive nearly $120 million to drive innovation under the Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program. These investments will enable successful weatherization agencies to expand their programs and will support new pilot projects to demonstrate innovative weatherization delivery and financial models and new technologies. Secretary Chu also announced that the program reached a new milestone in June - weatherizing more than 31,600 homes across the country.


After ramping up last year, the Weatherization Assistance Program is now weatherizing homes at its optimal run rate - approximately 25,000 homes per month. And in June, states reported that more than 31,600 homes were weatherized with Recovery Act funding - the most ever in a month. This summer alone, more than 80,000 homes will be weatherized across the country. Examine the state breakdown (pdf - 15kb) of the homes weatherized through June.

The program is also creating thousands of jobs locally - putting carpenters, electricians and factory workers back to work installing insulation, upgrading appliances, and improving heating and cooling systems. According to state reports, the Recovery Act Weatherization Program supported more than 13,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2010.

See: http://www.enewspf.com/index.php/latest-news/science-a-environmental/182...

Best hopes for kicking things up another notch or two.


The World of The Space Merchants is here !
Reading yesterday about The Human Car http://humancar.com/ and especially the Twike www.twike.co.uk reminded me of that great novel that I read many, many years ago. I don't remember if it was in Astounding SF or Amazing but I can still see with the eyes of my mind, a vignete of the novel's hero, Courtney, in a B&W line drawing, fighting in some shop floor where grows the undying cancerous heart of Chicken Little that they cut in slabs to feed the masses.

I am sure that more than a few of you have read the novel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Space_Merchants
the hero is a PR executive of a company that convinces people to go and live in Venus (in the fifties is wasn't clear the nature of the planet) and he drives, or moves, some kind of contraption that runs on pedals.
Just like the Twike or a Trixi, although I don't remember if it also had batteries.

And then there's the article in The Guardian about the need to grow Artificial Meat, just like Chicken Little ! in vats and hydroponics to feed the enormous population.

Pohl and Kornbluth though they were writing a satire and it looks more and more like a blueprint for the near future.

Quorn, anyone?

Partner says BP hiding oil spill documents

AFP - The company that leased the rig behind the Gulf of Mexico disaster has sharply criticized the oil giant, accusing it of hiding key data needed for a probe, according to a letter seen Thursday. Transocean accused BP of trying to stop any other entity from probing the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig which killed 11 workers and unleashed the worst oil spill in history. The charges risk turning into a new political debacle for BP as Transocean copied the strongly worded letter to three members of President Barack Obama's cabinet and leading members of Congress.

Union members might take note of West Texas' "ELP."

California state workers face furlough schedules starting Friday

One furlough day equals about 4.65 percent of an employee's monthly pay...

"What's next?" said Vickie Duke, a mailroom worker at the California Environmental Protection Agency. The worst part about the furloughs, she said, is the "roller coaster ride" that state workers have been on...

"So I'm not working Friday, and I'm not getting a complete paycheck," she said, looking as if she were calculating her coming losses.

"I think we've done our part," she said of state workers.

How Many Teachers Will $10 Billion in Additional Stimulus Rehire?

... By not rehiring furloughed workers, school districts are making a wise decision. Why go through all this agony of cutting expenses just to do it again next year, fighting the same battle over again?

The president is mistaken. What doesn't make economic sense is throwing money at unions when unions are the problem. The very best thing we can do for our nation is to get rid of collective bargaining, unions and their bloated salaries and pensions...

Well, union bashing can be a popular sport. Perhaps some union members have bloated salaries, but as a union member I do not, just a living wage, with a pension that is not all that great. The farm we have is a great fall-back position with the cattle. The area I live in, southwest Missouri, is noted for bad wages, my union, Teamsters, makes a big positive difference.

Kevin Spoering

It looks like all of our previous social contracts are up for re-negotiation - another sign BAU is dead.

The government is also starting a panel to consider Austerity changes for social security.

No raises for faculty at my tiny college this year (4th year in a row). Lots of bitching and moaning. Good thing I never brought up the idea that we take a voluntary 5% pay cut, even though it would have saved several non-faculty jobs...

Remember the Group "WAR"? Their song, "The World is a Ghetto" ???