Big Sister Is Watching You!

It’s always amazed me how people tend to fall back to religion when they face confounding times.

So it is with conservatives and free-marketers who have become unscrewed by the free-falling economy, the failure of laissez faire theories and the profound sense of apprehension and bewilderment as Barack Obama, an entirely unknown entity, gropes for solutions.

It’s back to basics time and for many of this genre that means back to Big Sister. Ayn Rand is the secret St. Christopher’s medal for many who have lost their intellectual bearings. Want reassurance that the market is always right? Want to be patted on the head that government is always the enemy? Want to be told soothingly that “greed is good” and the ego is OK? Join the “Back to Rand” movement.

Rand has had a lot of followers, including former Fed Chief Alan Greenspan, former SEC head Christopher Cox and Ronald Reagan. In Reagan’s case it was unrequited love. Rand despised him. Whatever. In Virginia, too, lots of members of the crazy, mixed-up Republican Party are turning Back to Rand for a reaffirmation of their ideas. It could be that in this regard, Rand is an even more potent elixir than the familiar Thomas Jefferson, even though Jefferson, like the Bible, is widely misinterpreted and his reality was far different from what is presumed.

Rand was a victim of her times. As a Jewish girl in newly Bolshevik Russia, she came to loath the Communists since they shut down her father’s drug business in St. Petersburg. She jinked to the states on a temporary visitor’s visa and ended up writing screenplays in Hollywood. She despised all that was statist and regulatory seeing them as a form of theft. Individual freedom and responsibility are key. Altruism is nonsense. The ego is what matters. People serve themselves and society much better by adopting a selfish self-interest. Only free market capitalism can unlock true creativity and efficient production.

In leftie Hollywood, Rand took being a reactionary to a new level and made it an art form. She fought against soft-headed actors, producers and screenwriters being sops for Jolly Joe Stalin and other Commies. Indeed, she was a rare “friendly” witness during the House UnAmerican Activities Committee which pursed its Red Baiting witch hunts in the late 1940s and 1950s. When called the testify, Miss Rand did so gladly. Afterwards, a snarky reporter asked her if she had any regrets about testifying. Her answer: “Yes, they didn’t give me enough time.”

Her two best books are the “Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.” Both make heroes out of average guys who beat government regulation and other snake nests of evil. (I confess that I have never read the latter. I found the 1,100 pages too daunting).

In her personal life, Rand had some interesting quirks. Though conservative, she was liberal on race and love. In fact, she often would try to re-mate members of her little salons with other people, concluding that their marriages had been mistakes. She, of course, knew better than the men and women involved.

She embraced philosophy that she called “Objectivism” although many mainstream philosophers never quite saw it as distinct enough to be regarded as a separate school of thinking.

After she died in the 1980s, her followers created shrines to her, including an institute near Los Angeles. Its advertising material shows lots of 1930s style skyscrapers like Rockefeller Center. The grandeur of capitalism, I suppose.

Anyway, read any op-ed page. Ayn Rand is hot now and it is a sign of the times.

Peter Galuszka


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100 responses to “Big Sister Is Watching You!”

  1. Larry G Avatar

    Do you think there are different versions of Rand ..and her life and philosophies "out there".

    check out the wiki entry… sounds like a mega food fight.

    Looks like there might be fierce different views of her and her impacts on capitalism.

    But here's the question I'd like the free-market folks answer.

    Should the US allow any company to get so large and embedded in our economy that if it gets into trouble – we have no choice but to bail it out?

    Consider the question carefully.

    The question assumes – that enormous, perhaps deadly damage will inevitably result if it is allowed "to fail".

    Should any government allow any company to get that large that it could take a country down with it?

    Of course – one might also ask – if any company can, on it's own, without Government help, get that large to start with? – anyhow.

    Was the US Govt – complicit in empowering the mayhem?

    Would AIG be insuring credit default swaps without the aid and assistance of the Govt to start with?

    Would Fannie & Freddie be buying securitized sub-prime loans without the full faith and backing of the US Govt to start with?

    so the question –

    did the US Govt CAUSE this by injecting itself in the free market or did this happen because the US stood back and this is the kind of crap that happens when Capitalism runs amok?

    Bonus Question: how do you keep this from happening again without Government regulation?

    or.. do we let countries fail also?

  2. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Larry,
    The U.S. government was complicit by omission. They never bothered to review credit default swaps even though the SEC is required by law to protect ivestors. Under Bush, the government never regulated hedge funds either, aside from requiring their “registration.”
    The attitude with hedge funds was that since you need a couple mil to get in, you must know what you’re doing and let it roll, free market style!
    Of course, free market means the freedom to fail and AIG is not being allowed to do that.

    Peter Galuszka

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Peter, you commie pinko running dog lackey, that’s a pretty fair description of Ayn Rand. I think there’s a lot to commend her philosophy, although I think she gives short shrift to the natural human instinct of altruism, which she brands as the root of all evil. True enough, altruism has been the justification for mass terror and persecution unleased by religions and leftists throughout history, but a world run according to purely Randian principles would not be human.

    Here’s the comment I take exception to: “Conservatives and free-marketers … have become unscrewed by the free-falling economy, the failure of laissez faire theories and the profound sense of apprehension and bewilderment as Barack Obama, an entirely unknown entity, gropes for solutions.”

    Rand did not propound “laissez faire” economics, nor did she consider herself a libertarian. She advocated a strong government, albeit a government that limited itself to core functions such as upholding property rights and the law, and providing for a national defense. She did, however, object strenuously to government interventions in the economy of the type that has led directly to our current disaster.

  4. Larry G Avatar

    re: “The U.S. government was complicit by omission. They never bothered to review credit default swaps even though the SEC is required by law to protect ivestors. “

    is that a role that both Conservatives and Liberals AGREE is a legitimate government role – or not?

    along the lines of Bacon’s comment on Rands philosophy of Government role(s)…

    I think this is a huge issue in terms of one’s philosophy about what one feels is a legitimate role of government?

    Should the government “protect” investors?

    Should the government regulate ONLY those things that can bring the whole economy down and all else is none of it’s business?

    See.. I buy the Conservative view that the Government really is not a competent player in affairs that are not it’s primary mission… like business and investment… and that the more Government we have in those areas – the more expensive business is.. more inefficient, inflexible…unable to quickly adapt…compete… in the end.. a loss of productivity…

    but if nothing else – the recent events should certainly give anyone of just about any conservative philosophy about Government – some room to re-think some of their core beliefs.

    That’s what I’m waiting for here.

    Let’s hear from some of the Conservatives as to whether any of this has altered their thinking about the role of Government and regulation.

  5. Larry G Avatar

    re: “Rand did not propound “laissez faire” economics, nor did she consider herself a libertarian.”

    hmmmm…

    here is wiki:

    “Her political views, reflected in both her fiction and her theoretical work, emphasize individualism, laissez-faire capitalism, and the constitutional protection of the right to life, liberty, and property. “

  6. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “She advocated a strong government, albeit a government that limited itself to core functions such as upholding property rights and the law, and providing for a national defense.”

    I haven’t read Ayn Rand for decades, but the basis for my argument with Larry is right out of her text.

    -The individual must work to live.
    -He must own the product of his work, and therefore the right to property is next to the right to life.
    -No one has the right to take it away the fruits of our labor and therfore our life.
    -We form governments to protect first our individual property rights, and by extension our national property rights.

    Or as Abe Lincoln said, if we do not protect property then anarchy follows.

    All I would add is that when that individual goes to work he will necessarly produce pollution and other externalities: everything will have some other external effects on his neighbors, and likewise them upon him. This situation cannot be avoided: it is both a physical and an economic fact.

    WE must have an even balance of trade in these exteranl effects, other wise someone is taking advantage, and thereby stealing the product of his neighbors work, and his livliehood.

    Far from being un-altruistic, this is the MOST altruistic approach which guarantees the maximum social benefits at the lowest cost: including environmental benefits.

    It is the only really green path.

    —————————-

    Fixing the bonus plan at AIG may involve destroying some contracts, but doing that is a slippery slope indeed. This does nothing but inject fear and uncertainty into the markets: how can you know if your contract is good?

    Kind of like getting a pollution permit, subdivision rights, a buiding permit, or a drivers license that can be revoked at any time by the majority.

    As Ayn Rand said the individual must have some assurance that he will keep the profits of his own labor. And she echos Adam Smith in pointing out that the public welfare is nothing more than the sum of all the individual welfare.

    I take exception to that last because I believe that there is an economy of scale to some public efforts that can never be matched with a collection of individual efforts.

    But, in any case, it appears that we are about to let the majority decide what kind of contract amounts to “too much greed”.

    And the amusing part is that the majority will do this to protect their own greedy interests.

    RH

  7. Larry, my observation is that government gets caught up in the same manias and enthusiasms of the private sector. Rather than acting as a restraining influence, government typically acts to inflame the mania. Our nation’s bipartisan housing prices of the past 10-15 years are a classic example. Rarely does anyone in the government see the danger until it is manifest to everyone.

    The only people — the ONLY people — who warned of the dangers of excess leverage, excess debt and excessive federal guarantees of private debt over the past few years were cranks and oddballs who wrote for Prudentbear.com and a handful of other bearish publications… Oh, and John Rubino — and myself, writing in Bacon’s Rebellion (though I won’t pretend that I foresaw the full dimensions of what has befallen us).

  8. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    “Under Bush, the government never regulated hedge funds either, aside from requiring their “registration.”

    Yeah, that damn Bush wouldn’t regulate hedge funds.

    http://www.seclaw.com/docs/ref/GoldsteinSEC04-1434.pdf

    But Barry’s gonna take care of that now. And he will stop those bonus thieves too. You just wait.

    Ain’t gonna happen. The hedge funds are registered offshore. The managers are registered on shore. If the managers in the US are restricted, the fund finds someone in another country. If the investors can’t invest in the hedge funds, they will not invest or will move to another country.

    The only way to control hedge funds and the CDS trade is to have International regulation. Which just happens to be what next month’s G20 meeting by world leaders is partly about. Then any laws we have will have to conform to the ‘new economic world order.’

    Never let a good crisis go to waste. Bush/Bad Cop. Barry/Good Cop. Let’s blame Bush.

    Socializing markets is only the first step. There’s plenty more to follow, but hey, only so much can be done at one meeting. Barry’s just getting a head start on much of the rest. At your expense. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

  9. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    – we have no choice but to bail it out?

    If we have to bail it out, then it is no longer a free market. Why ask the free market types a question that begs the answer?

    If we had not bailed it out, would we be having a problem with bonuses being paid, and contracts broken?

    —————————–

    Bonus Question: how do you keep this from happening again without Government regulation?

    or.. do we let countries fail also?

    Begging the question again.

    You assume that government regulation does not work: “I buy the Conservative view that the Government really is not a competent player in affairs that are not it’s primary mission… like business and investment…..”

    But you seem to think it IS competent in and area arguably larger, more complicated, and less regulated: environmental affairs.

    —————————–

    I think the government has a primary interest in Fair Trade, and that does NOT mean a free market necessarily, but one in which the government plays referee to make sure there is not assymetric trading.

    Assymetric trading occurs when negative externalities are not taxed enough, or too little, and it ALSO occurs when positive externalities are subsidised too much or too little.

    How does anyone decide what is too much or too little? You either buy or you don’t buy, that is how.

    Assymetric trding also occurs when there is more informaton on one side than the other. AIG was selling insurance on investments rted as AAA.

    But the ratings were bogus,and the ratings agencies are coming out of this unscathed. so my simpleminded throw out suggestion to prevent this the next time is this.

    Require the ratings agencies to own investments that they rate equal to half the agencies capitalization, and in proportion to the value of the investments rated.

    That ought to keep them honest.

    I think the political side of government got wrapped up in its own dogma “Leave business alone”. This is pretty much what the ratings agencies were doing: “Hey, I’m OK, You’re AAA. Everything is cool, man.” Like the ratings agencies Government THOUGHT it was not at risk.

    What government forgot was what Ayn Rand said: that government welfare is part of the social welfare and that is the sum of the welfare of individuals.

    RH

    What happens when corporations are larger than the government?

  10. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Darrell:

    You think cap and trade on energy is socializing the market or pricing in previously unpriced externalities?

    RH

  11. I stand corrected. Rand *did* advocate laissez-faire economics. But she was not a libertarian. (Going back to Peter’s point I was responding to, Peter never characterized her as a libertarian, so my observation was totally off base).

    The difference between “libertarianism” and “laissez-faire” may strike some as right-wing hair splitting. But I had it drilled into my head by a Randian friend of mine (who now works for the Ayn Rand Institute, by the way) that Rand was *not* a libertarian. Libertarians believe in minimalist government. Objectivists believe in a strong government that protects property rights and the national defense.

  12. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    “You think cap and trade on energy is socializing the market or pricing in previously unpriced externalities?”

    Neither.

    I see cap and trade as a hedge fund, except it’s paid for by the citizens increased rates instead of rich investors, to the benefit of manipulative business interests.

    The government sets the limits, auctions the credits, keeps the money, regulates the industry just like the SEC does Wall Street, and the average Joe will never see a penny in a dividend check. Then some idiot will figure out how to put the credits into a CDO.

  13. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    You talk about asymmetric trading. There’s a lot of that going on right now. Warren says the market sucks. No one cares. Barry says the market sucks, and Wall Street dumps. Then the following week Barry says now is the best time to buy. Wall Street has a field day. The news didn’t change, same crap for the past year. But because Barry says it’s so, the market drinks the Kool Aid. Why is that?

    A few years ago I was in a gold contract. Gold is going higher, everything looks great. Then the currencies started to look feeble. Guess what, all the central banks in unison start selling gold like crazy. I nearly lost my shirt on that investment.

    This market is in an untrustworthy condition. It has become a bigger crap shoot than any Vegas table. The little guy is betting hardways with loaded dice, and Barry is the boxman.

  14. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “Rather than acting as a restraining influence, government typically acts to inflame the mania.”

    Thank you Jamie. I think you hit the nail on the head regarding a longstanding dispute between Larry and I.

    I believe the government has a responsibility to restrain mania. overnment has a responsibility to protect the minorities from flames fanned by the majority.

    Larry believes (I think) that government acts properly when it responds to demands from the majority (of the day).

    Today a majority appears to believe that IAG has no business keeping promises made last year. Today I heard a fireman onthe radio sying that he had a contract which involved a pay raise that he won’t get, because the county broke the contract.

    I have a problem with government that does not keep its promises. I sypathise with the fireman, but I don;t se that justifies breaking OTHER promises.

    If that keeps up,then there is no way to aree to do business.

    RH

  15. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “were cranks and oddballs who wrote for Prudentbear.com and a handful of other bearish publications”

    OK, what is the lifetime record of Prudentbear?

    Historically, it has been hard to make money betting against the United States.

    I’mnot impressed that they wer right “this time”

    RH

  16. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “I nearly lost my shirt on that investment. “

    I don’t regard gold as an investment. That is pure speculation.

    Now, if you are buying and trading collectible gold coins for your own enjoyment, that’s different. Then you have a situation similar to your home, which you enjoy, and might make some money on.

    An investment, to me, means buying part of a cash flow at a discount. It is partly speculative because you hope the cash flow goes up, and not down, but at least you have a going concern to examine. You buy gold, you get a certificate, and you hope someone actually has the gold in a vault.

    I prefer to buy gold mines, then you have an operation, that can adjust somewhat to gold prices.

    Had you bought African gold mines recently, you would have done very well.

    RH

  17. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    I’ve never shot craps, that is out of my league.

    Take a deep breath and calm down. Superbama has only been at this a matter of weeks. He is no more to blame for what is happening than ReaganBushClntonBush. You really want to BLAME him for an insignificant market bump? I don’t see the logic,and I really don;t see the point.

    Drag out a stock chard of the SP 500 since 1980, then draw a leadt squares line through it until today. Youhave along smooth tail to the left, followed by the Tech bubble, followed by the Osama slump, followed by the combination of good times plus the housing bubble, followed by eight years of Republican lemmings falling off a cliff. Then you have a few weeks of Superbama.

    Your least squares line will exit the right side of the graph around 950 to 1000. if you use the DJIA it will be around 9500 to 10,000.

    We are overly concerned with where we came from recently, rather than where e coud reasonable expsct to be, absent the glitches. The difference between 7365 and 9500 does not look nearly so dire as the difference between 14,000 and 7365.

    If I’m right, we are not that far off from being back to “normal” and no one I know is now claiming that 14,000 was normal.

    RH

  18. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “I see cap and trade as a hedge fund, except it’s paid for by the citizens increased rates instead of rich investors, to the benefit of manipulative business interests.”

    Huh? You want to translate that for me? What business interest do you think WANTS cap and trade, other than the wind guys? OK there will be traders in credits, like anything else.

    The government sets the limits, auctions the credits, keeps the money, regulates the industry sounds like you think it is socializing the market

    just like the SEC does Wall Street, OOPS, I guess not, SEC pretty much gave Wall Street free rein, right?

    and the average Joe will never see a penny in a dividend check. Well, that much is true

    Then some idiot will figure out how to put the credits into a CDO. OUCH! You really ae bitter. That’s pretty funny, though.

    Not to worry, the credits expire every year, unlike a CDO, someone is going to have to “settle” the contracts periodically. That will keep the speculation under control.

    RH

  19. Larry G Avatar

    re: ” Rand was *not* a libertarian. Libertarians believe in minimalist government. Objectivists believe in a strong government that protects property rights and the national defense.”

    hmmm.. are we making progress here with respect to modern Conservative Philosophy with respect to what role the Government should be playing?

    I “buy” the stated distinction between Libertarians and Objectivists and I can recognize what school of thought Ron Paul comes from but where does most of the current modern-day Republican Party stand on this especially with regard to the Government and regulation of financial markets?

  20. Larry G Avatar

    re: “offshoring” hedge funds with fund managers here and the money “offshore”.

    Really Darrell?

    Do you mean that our Government does not already regulate money that moves from this country to places outside of it?

    or ..could not do even more of it if they wanted to?

    Seems like …we just went through a big deal where the Government has been tracking down money flows for “terrorists”, drug transactions and gambling to name but three.

    I’m not saying.. if one path is closed that it won’t try to seek other paths – we know it will…

    but at some point.. the pipes become much less “leaky” and the effort to move money in convoluted way to escape regulation – get’s counterproductive.

    no?

    We keep hearing that if we don’t stay out of the way – that the money will go overseas to other places…

    you mean…like those places where companies and bank accounts are considered fair game by truly corrupt governments … or just to countries that are comparable to this one with regard to financial security and opportunity but with less regulation?

    to be honest – I wonder – sometimes what “trading money” has to do with the productivity capacity of a nation.

    what exactly are the hedge fund folks ACTUALLY betting their money on to start with?

    Are they betting on the manufacturing capacity of an entity or are they just playing with money like a poker player does?

  21. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Darrell:

    http://blogs.forbes.com/digitalrules/2009/03/twenty-reasons-for-optimism.html

    RH

    Larry:

    “Are they betting on the manufacturing capacity of an entity or are they just playing with money like a poker player does?”

    They are betting that they know something we don’t.

    If you hire a building contractor it is for his knowledge and time. Same if you hire a hedge fund.

    Hedge funds and cocaine are God’s way of telling you that you have too much money.

    RH

  22. Larry G Avatar

    I don’t think too highly of folks who are willing to bet (more than mad) money…basically.. on whether or not a third-party will succeed or fail….

    two bucks in the office pool – fine.

    200,000 bucks from the pension plan you manage for others.. no.

    The question is – should the Government – REGULATE – this kind of activity and I’m asking that as a pure philosophical question about how one feels is the proper role of Government in the first place… ala libertarian/Objectivists … liberal/conservative, Big D/Big R points of view.

    I think that this past election was about the voters having something to say about how they feel about the Government’s role in these things.

    no?

  23. Groveton Avatar

    Man, Obama is stinking the place up. I still think he’s OK but he sure has poor taste in political friends.

    On Tuesday, Chris Dodd claimed that he had nothing to do with the AIG budget loophole. Today, he admits he did it. I guess we can add this to Turbo Tax Timmy’s forgetting to pay his taxes and Daschele’s amazing ability to make millions working for a law firm without being a lawyer.

    Should government regulate? Yes. The problem is that the people who have been attracted to politics seem to be too incompetent and dishonest to be allowed to regulate.

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/03/18/official-obama-aides-pushed-for-bonus-loophole/?eref=politicalflipper

    However, bigger issues are looming in this matter. The bonuses are, as AIG’s new CEO said, “distasteful”. They should not be paid. But they will seem minor compared to the counterparty claims from foreign companies for insurance payouts from AIG. The bonuses are in the millions, the foreign counterparty claims will be in the billions.

    Will American taxpayers end up paying money to prop up a failed company only to see that money paid out to foreign firms making claims over foreign housing bubbles?

    Let’s ask our elected official Chris Dodd. Oh wait, what’s the point?

  24. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Larry G. – you should check out

    http://lewrockwell.com/

    for daily free market articles excoriating the bailouts and the Federal Reserve caused housing bubble.

  25. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Groveton is right, the bonuses are like one tenth of one percent of the bailout.

    Relative to the size of the other problems the legislature has to deal with, this is worth about five minutes of their time.

    I still don’t have to like it.

    RH

  26. Larry G Avatar

    thanks for the link!

    a LOT of this is coming from the now-disenfranchised “chattering” class who are going to have their rumps up in the air no matter what.. just whatever happens to be the current “outrage” de-jure from that stinking socialist administration.

    Obama is going to screw up.

    There is not a President alive that did not and will not screw up.

    I’m not apologizing for it but hells bells folks.. the man has not been in office 80 days much less 8 years… and he did not create any of this mess himself or have anything to do with Chris Dodd doing it either…

    Here’s what Obama IS saying:

    He’s saying that he is going to find out what went wrong and he’s going to propose a regulatory structure to prevent this from happening again… and part of it will be stringent regulations for any company that get’s to the point where it is thought to be too big to fail and therefore the taxpayers responsibility.

    He might fail at these attempts.

    It may turn into another huge mess.

    It certainly challenges the conventional wisdom of most Conservative types as to whether or not the role of Govt is to regulate – at the level that Obama is proposing.

    I would submit to you folks that given the scope and context of the bigger issues ..that the payouts are gnats on dogs butts.

  27. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “One CEO said, “Michigan and California literally need to do a 180 if they are ever to become competitive again. California has huge advantages with its size, quality of work force, particularly in high tech, as well as the quality of life and climate advantages of the state. However, it is an absolute regulatory and tax disaster, as is Michigan.””

    I dunno, you think maybe California and Michigan have overdone it on regulation?

    RH

  28. Larry G Avatar

    if California has the #1 GNP in the US an is the 7th largest in the world..

    and you want to compare it regulatory wise to it’s competitors how would it rank?

    Was the CEO who made that statement by any chance one of the companies who got bailouts?

    Here’s a hint.

    What the CEOs say about “unnecessary” regulations has lost most of it’s street cred …don’t you think?

    Aren’t the anti-regulatory CEOs the same ones who said the market would police itself and did not need regulation?

  29. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    CEO’s and conservatives in general may have lost the battle on regulation. If that battle is lost, what will conservatives have left to campign on?

    Or

    Superbama could over reach and screw up, in which case sonservatives will say ITYS.

    Lost credibility to who? If you are trying to sell your state’s attraction to new business, youwill have to sell it to CEO’s, regardless of what we think about them.

    California has a large gross state product because it is a large state. The GSP is shrinking 3% a year, and that is part of their housing problem.

    The question is how is it doing rlative to size and popuation with other states with the same or less regulation.

    What about Michigan? Is it a basket case because of regulation or because it is inthe rust belt?

    RH

  30. Larry G Avatar

    I suspect Michigan has got the same problem as North Carolina but with autos instead of textiles.

    The world economy is having a profound impact on communities and states that relied on relatively low-skilled manufacturing and assembly jobs for the economic strength.

    It's not only cheaper labor that will work also without (or much less) healthcare and pension benefits but it's computerized manufacturing processes including robot assembly.

    First step – replace expensive labor with cheaper labor

    Second step replace cheaper labor with automation

    jobs go from Michigan to overseas… to cheaper labor .. but then ultimately to less labor …

    the rest of the world – even 3rd world countries knows how to automate manufacturing ….

    so we're cooked on nuts&bolts manufacturing…and states (like Michigan) whose economy was based primarily on what are essentially assembly jobs..

    but the world still needs a wide array of stuff that is produced to exactly quality standards – like medical imaging technology … etc…

    when that laser beam comes on… the last thing you want to hear from the operator is …"this dang piece of cheap crap …you can't trust it.. heck it slice an ear off yesterday"..

    I think that is where America must still have opportunities..
    but to be honest.. it would not surprise me the least to see Japan or Korea come out with imaging machines just as good and half as expensive…

  31. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Then of course there is another approach to regulation, one Ayn Rand might even approve of:

    The Right to Pollute?

    Pollution credits convert the atmosphere from a commons into private property. They can reduce pollution if the pollution cap is lower than the unrestricted total and lower the costs of reducing pollution if credits can be sold from low-cost avoiders and high-cost avoiders.

    We are all aware that everybody’s business is nobody’s business. When nobody owns the right to a scarce resource, the resource tends to be over-exploited. For example, air is polluted because nobody owns it. So the atmosphere becomes an open sewer for air polluters. There is no incentive for anybody to restrict his own contribution to atmospheric pollution since the costs of reducing pollution must be privately borne but the benefits of cleaner air is diffused over the whole community.

    Suppose individuals are instead assigned free quotas to pollute1 that are less than his unrestricted amount and the actual amount of individual pollution can be inexpensively monitored. In addition, individuals are allowed to sell their rights to pollute if they cannot use up their own pollution quotas. Thus, under private ownership of pollution rights, an individual must now weigh the opportunity costs of using up his rights instead of selling his rights to someone else who needs to pollute more than his own share……

    http://opus1journal.org/articles/article.asp?docID=41

    RH

  32. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Despite downturn and dire outlook for factories, value of American-made goods still leads world.

    WASHINGTON(AP) — It may seem like the country that used to make everything is on the brink of making nothing. In January, 207,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs vanished in the largest one-month drop since October 1982 (see chart above). Factory activity is hovering at a 28-year low. Even before the recession, plants were hemorrhaging work to foreign competitors with cheap labor. And some companies were moving production overseas.

    But manufacturing in the United States isn't dead or even dying. It's moving upscale, following the biggest profits, and becoming more efficient, just like Henry Ford did when he created the assembly line to make the Model T.

    The U.S. by far remains the world's leading manufacturer by value of goods produced. It hit a record $1.6 trillion in 2007 — nearly double the $811 billion in 1987. For every $1 of value produced in China's factories, America generates $2.50.

    So what's made in the USA these days?

    The U.S. sold more than $200 billion worth of aircraft, missiles and space-related equipment in 2007. And $80 billion worth of autos and auto parts. Deere & Co. sold $16.5 billion worth of farming equipment last year, much of it to the rest of the world. Then there's energy products like gas turbines for power plants made by General Electric, computer chips from Intel and fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. Household names like GE, General Motors, IBM, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard are among the largest manufacturers by revenue.

    From Carpe Diem

    RH

  33. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Buying and selling pollution rights as a means of regulation:

    Something very similar to this idea is in fact being carried out in the United States. In the Clear Air Act Amendment of 1990, Congress let the Environmental Protection Agency assign pollution allowances to 445 of the biggest U.S. power plants and factories based on past fuel consumption. Under this credit program, pollution allowances have become property privately owned by these companies, which they are allowed to trade freely.

    Allowance trading has been quickly adopted and will continue to grow because it has achieved pollution reduction at the lowest cost possible.

    RH

  34. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    Speaking of lowest cost possible.

    http://nctimes.com/articles/2009/03/19/business/z8bf28a6caf4565098825757d00707bd4.txt

    Homeowner can’t pay mortgage.

    Bank forecloses.

    Bank lists house at slightly reduced price.

    No one buys the house.

    Repeat process 8 million times.

    Bank bundles houses into 100 per unit.

    Sells unit at 25 cents on the dollar.

    Speculator flips houses, realizing 100 percent profit.

    Resulting sales price forces other homeowners into foreclosure.

    Repeat until Next = 0

    Somehow there seems to be something wrong in this whole housing process.

  35. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Unless you are the speculator. In your scenario, he is the only one who seems tobe able to get things done,or sell a house!

    RH

  36. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    AIG bonuses:

    The house has passed abill to take people’s property. the property may have been ill-gained, but it was apparently legal.

    This will probably go to court. Now we are still on the hook for the money

    AND

    we bailed AIG out of the cost of the lawsuit.

    Is this a great country, or what?

    Wall Mart assed out 933 million in bonuses this week. They could have suved US that money with lower prices.

    You think the legislature will go after those bonuses, too?

    What’s to stop them, America’s love affair with corporate WalMart?

    RH

  37. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    http://www.hypothetical-bias.net/.a/6a00d83451bd4869e20112798282d828a4-pi

    Here is another picture of how pwoplw think about regulation vs the economy.

    It shows the percentatge of people polled that favor protection of the environment, even at the risk of curbing economic growth vs those that think economc growth should be given a priority, vs those who think the priorities should be equal.

    If you beleive in “Majority Rules”, those that favor environmental protection have fallen from 61% in 19865 (or 71% in 1990) to 42% today.

    Those that favor economic development rose from 28% in 1985 to 51% today.

    Those that think we should have equal priorites are far in the minority down around 5%. The, of course are closest to being correct.

    BOTH of the other groups are angling for unfair advantage or superior rights.

    I have long argued that environmentalists are shooting themselves in the foot by not doing a credible job of salesmanship on the value of a good environment, AND they are alienating themselves by the use of unfair tactics.

    Recently I had a hay customer come over and HE (not me) started a conversation on farming values and land rights. At the end he just shook his head sadly and said “How did we ever get this way?”

    If we let people continue this trend in thinking we will wind up with LESS protection than if we operate with an even hand, regardless of which half of the poll you beleive in.

    RH

  38. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    “Unless you are the speculator. In your scenario, he is the only one who seems tobe able to get things done,or sell a house!”

    Back when this thing started, the politicians were all over TV telling how the homeowners would be saved and not the speculators.

    Yet when push comes to shove, the homeowners are no where near a life ring, and it’s the speculators who are helping bail out the banks.

    Ironic and humorous at the same time.

  39. Larry G Avatar

    re: "how the public feels about trade-offs between the environment and the economy.

    Let me explain how this works.

    How many people think that Congress is doing a good job?

    How many folks think we should fire Congress and start over?

    Now the bonus round.

    How many folks think we should fire THEIR Congressman?

    That's the deal with the environment ….and the economy.

    It's a non-sensical except in the most generic context.

    Take the question and put in this way…

    Would you support more mercury pollution from electric plants where you live if it provided more jobs.

    .. or substitute ANY pollution but make sure it will be where THEY LIVE but also say it will result in more jobs or higher salaries.

    In the end – if a majority of people – really do want more pollution – it will happen but that is way, way different than "property rights" … the unfettered right to pollute where the polluter decides.

    Cap & Trade is considered a really dumb concept when it comes to toxics like mercury, pcbs, etc…

    because what it means in effect is more mercury and pcbs in rivers that did not use to have any…

    and I can predict fairly comfortably that this cockamamie idea will end up totally dead in the water as soon as they reveal whose river will get more mercury/pcbs in it as a result of cap&trade.

    If anyone thinks that a majority of the public will support this – once they understand what it really means.. keep on dreaming…

  40. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Darrell:

    No one likes to bail out another homeowner who screwed up, one way or another when we didn’t. He tookk money outof his home and spent it, and now we are putting it back in his home.

    There is nothing fair about this, but the problem appears to be that if we do what is fair, it will wind up being even worse for all of us.

    Depending on who you believe.

    My usual Kaldo Hicks argument would be that we are doing something (allegedly) for th ecommon good. If there is any good then the winners ought to be willing to pay off the losers.

    In this case the winners are theones getting bailed out, the ones who spent their money and now they still have it in their homes. And the losers are the rest of us.

    Some people have suggested that the government take a stake in any future equity recovery for these folks, and use (double taxation on their capital gains, or something) to pay the rest of us losers back.

    Larry will no doubt think that idea boils down to some kind of outrageuos property rights claim.

    All that is at the street level. I haven’t figured out anything above that: banks, speculators, hedge funds, insurors, FAnnie and Freddie, the FED, FDIC, etc.

    My guess is that if you fix it at the street level the rest will eventually sort itself out: there are a lot of worthless and toxic assets out there thet aren’t really worthless at all. Arelative handfull of bad mortgages liberally distributed have become the kepone in the economic James.

    There is only a little bit there, but how do you sort it out?

    RH

  41. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Mercury is no more toxic than CO2 at a low enough level. Our CO2 problem may wipe out the world before our Mecury porblem does, even if that is possible. But we are pretty sure it is possib;e with CO2. The geological record doesn;t show any mass extinctions due to mercury.

    The trick to cap and trade is where you set the cap. For mercury it would be very low indeed, but those applications that require mercury would then be able to trade their allowances as needed. We do still use mercury after all, and it will get into the environment.

    The question is whether you want to control something absolutely at near infinite cost, or whether you want the more-than-good-enough solution at much less cost. How many people canyu save on other projects if you don’t spend toomuch onthis one?

    The point of the graph wasn’t to show you how it works, but as an example of what I think is happening, and what I have said before was happening. That was just an intuition or observation that the graph seems to support. I love it when people go measure things.

    The poll has been taken the same way for many years, so why is willingness to pay for envirnmental goods going down and concern for the economy over the environment is going up?

    Since it is a two sided question you can’t say the game ws rigged with loaded questions.

    I think there are two parts to it. Aome people are sick and tired of constant crisis mongering by conservationists. It is simple fatigue, combined with a growing scepticism.

    The other part is that people don’t give a rat’s a__ about the environment when they are hungry. Most pof us haven’t got there yet, but the trend is in that direction.

    If you really want a good environment, you have to let eople earn enough to pay for it.

    Then it helps if there is something they can buy or earn that they might be allowed to keep.

    RH

  42. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “Would you support more mercury pollution from electric plants where you live if it provided more jobs.

    .. or substitute ANY pollution but make sure it will be where THEY LIVE but also say it will result in more jobs or higher salaries.

    In the end – if a majority of people – really do want more pollution – it will happen but that is way, way different than “property rights” … the unfettered right to pollute where the polluter decides.”

    Larry, you are hopelessly screwed up on this. You still think that property rights have something to do with land or boundaries. sometimes they do, but mostly they don’t.

    And I never, ever suggesed that property rights were the “unfettered” right to pollute where the polluter decides. That is what the cap is all about.

    We claim we have a right to a clean environment, which implies that we own it, and it doesn’t have any boundaries. We even claim we have more right to it than those that want to dirty the environment. Which they own just as much as we do.

    So now we have to negotiate, only you don’t want to because you claim god given rights to your property that supercede their rights. When you have god on your side, why negotiate?

    This has nothing to do with where, it has to do with what you own and what you don’t.

    Government initially divided up the land and allowed it to be sold. Teh king claimed the land (stole it fromthe Indians) and then gave it away, to be bought and sold and developed at will.

    Within the restrictions of police power.

    Same with pollution rights. The king cannot give away more land than there is, and the government cannot allow more pollution in a drainage basin than the LDL will allow.

    But once you know what that is, it can be bought and sold at will, within the basin.

    The King gave the land to a few Lords who got immensely rich off the deal, but there was a lot of land and not many people to give it to. The market would not support a high price and the Lords sold it cheap enough, for the time.

    Which Lords are going to get the pollution rights? We can see where this is going. The Lords in this case will be the biggest polluters. But now the “land” (pollution rights) are a lot smaller, and a lot more people have to live with them.

    —————————–

    My position is that the government ought to give the pollution rights to us: it is our environment after all. Then let the pollution Lords buy what they need from us. Now we have an economic stake in the value of “our property”, the environment.

    Now we have some hope of answering the question Larry poses.

    “Would you support more mercury pollution from electric plants where you live if it provided more jobs” — and you are unemloyed. .

    There won’t be any more pollution because we decided already how much we were going to sell. And if it turns out to be too much we can lower the amount we sell next time. We issue fewer certificates (property that people own) and the price goes up.

    If you don’t want anymore pollution, and if you can afford to, you just sit on your ticket until it expires. (they are only good for a year or something, because unlike land pollution has a flow rate.)

    If you do that then you will have done your part for a cleaner environment – and you will have paid for it.

    If Larry is right, no one will sell, and we will have a perfectly clean environment – and no jobs to speak of.

    But the more people who don’t sell, the higher the price goes until someone does break down sell. Then you have a self balancing regulation: the majority rules, and they pay or profit accordingly. There is no increase in pollution, and if there is a decrease (Cap gets lowered), everybody has property that is worth more.

    The real polluters wil have to pay more, and they will put the cost in the price of their products, which we may be buying with money from the pollution credits we sold.

    Nobody has to steal anything from anybody, but once someone has a pollution credit we have to defend their right to sell their property, and they have to defend our right to keep ours.

    They cannot, for example, try to coerce us into selling by saying that if we don’t they are out of work. Property rights would actually give Larry what he wants: the right to deny someone pollutin causing work, and watch them starve.

    But only to the extent that Larry withholds HIS pollution credits, such as they are. He no longer gets to make vague claims about “the majority” because we will know from the cash flow what people really think about “their” pollution in their back yard.

    Those that sell and those that don’t sell will converge, exactly as shown on the opinion graph. Then we will ahve found the best and lowest cost solution – within the scientifically determined fetters allowd.

    We won’t be able to “blame” the plluters because we sold them ollution rights so they could build the products we buy.

    —————————-
    Unfortunately, it isn’t going to work tht way. The government will give most of the rights to the “Lords”. Just as in the Clear Air Act Amendment of 1990, Congress will let the Environmental Protection Agency assign pollution allowances [property rights] to the biggest polluters.

    The government will do that because we have a social contract with them: we can’t put them out of business without wrecing both our 401k and our ability to add to it in one swoop (Their investment and our jobs).

    We will pay (more for products) while they get to trade (our valuable pollution rights). They will have superior property rights and we will have none.

    Which is just the way Larry thinks it should be, except now the table is turned.

    But, we will still have a representative democracy: we can create a majority and demand action from the government if we have too much pollution. We can demand that the plants slow down or shut down “without recourse”. It’s our air and the majority has the rights.

    But now

    Government will lower the cap and trading price will go up for those that have them, and prices of goods will go up will go up for those that don’t. If we demand a reduction in pollutin credits, the rich will get richer and the porr wil get poorer.

    Anyone who is smart will get in line now to demand their share of their property rights, and not have them all go to the Lords by decree.

    RH

  43. Larry G Avatar

    re: "Mercury is no more toxic than CO2 at a low enough level. "

    Mr. "Environmentalist" – read this:

    "….only 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury is needed to contaminate a 25-acre lake to the point where fish are unsafe to eat."

    http://blogs.edf.org/climate411/2008/02/15/epas-mercury-rule-bad-use-of-cap-and-trade/

    this is the problem with those who are whacked out over pollution policy….

    and continue to prattle on about things that either they are not informed about or worse don't care about…

    With non-toxics – like GHG – the major LEGITIMATE environmental community is debating whether a reasonable approach is cap & trade or a carbon tax.

    EDF favors cap & trade.

    Full disclosure – EDF is one of two organizations that I financially support. The other one is NRDC.

    As far as pollution policy and property rights – all one has to do is use these phrases in a GOGGLE search to bring up the whacked out folks… who DO support the right to pollute as a property right

    and go back to some earlier things RH has said before he has backtracked and he was saying the same thing… that other folks have no right to limit what he can pollute.. because … breathing is pollution and he has to breath….

    I call this kind of reasoning "whacked out"…ESPECIALLY from Anyone who claimed they are schooled in matters Environmental.

    Sorry RH…

    Cap & Trade and other market-based solutions may well be appropriate for acid rain and GHG but not for toxics.

    This is settled.

    There are, as far as I know, not a single legitimate Environmental Group that supports such a thing because

    …. when 1/70th of teaspoon is the "tipping" point… the margin of error is so tiny that you're playing with fire…

    ..and so.. as a policy… despite recent Bush attempts to do so… has been rejected….

    One has to wonder what goes on the minds of those who SUPPORT this… what are they thinking?

    No matter.

    If you put these facts in front of the public – the vast majority of them will also soundly reject such fantasies…

    which is a good thing…

    Much of the pro-pollution crowds basic approach is to flood the dialog with disinformation… in hopes that it will confuse the average person…

    once the average person sees the plain ordinary facts.. they understand… and that's why I call the ones who don't or won't – whacked out.

  44. Larry G Avatar

    re: why should the rest of us buy toxic assets?

    If you believe the folks in charge – it’s better for us to help out those that caused the problem that not because if we don’t then our own assets become devalued also.

    That’s a large leap of faith for many people and even then there are folks who are opposed purely on principle.

    This goes back to the question:

    “What is the purpose and role of Government in Capitalism?”

    and I’m primarily interested in hearing from the folks who are basically anti-regulation….or perhaps used to be but now are rethinking…

    As far as helping people…here’s the way I see it.

    The homes are STILL valuable assets but they have suffered a setback and it will take some number of years to recoup their full value.

    The essential bargain is this:

    We help people keep their homes but they owe us the increased value that accrues to the point where they get back to full value.

    So… it’s a trade.. we help…we make you a loan…you keep your house.. and we get paid back… and in the process… we keep our own homes from getting devalued also…

    is it a “fair” trade ?

    I dunno…

    this is a lot like two really bad choices… and we’re splitting hairs over which one is actually worse…

    right?

    p.s. – don’t we know what happens when Govt stays out of something like this?

    Isn’t that what essentially caused the Great Depression?

  45. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    If the lenders had been willing to work with the borrowers in the beginning, this crisis wouldn’t have been so deep. Instead they proceeded with their standard response to deadbeat borrowers of foreclosure and repossession, failing to recognize the seriousness of the situation. As the REO inventory began to build, they found themselves with a hoard of non-producing assets. Now they are forced to clear their books by selling at fire sale prices because they need capital.

    It all boils down to a cash flow issue. They were unwilling to accept reduced cash flow in the beginning and ended up with none. Had they been more accommodating at the street level, the country would not be in the severe mess it’s in. The lenders turned individual moral hazard into a collective one that mere money will never repay.

  46. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    My wife was talking to one of her friends down the street, and it appears several of our neighbors have vanished in the middle of the night. One day they were there, and the next morning — poof!

    There were no usual signs of a struggle, for sale/rent signs, foreclosure signs, or PODS signs. The families just up and disappeared. I have to wonder if we are going to be the only ones left by the end of summer. I also wonder how many other neighborhoods are infected with this unrecognized economic pandemic?

  47. Larry G Avatar

    re: mortgage companies and cash flow.. etc..

    yes.. but this was not just one or two greedy/unscrupulous/inflexible mortgage company…

    it was nationwide, industry-wide – right?

    Whether you were a mortgage in Norfolk or Las Vegas or Chicago – you were “sub-prime” and you were offered an ARM… at ridiculous terms that would only be payable by a fraction of borrowers.. namely those those whose incomes kept going up in lock-step with their ARM resetting at higher and higher rates…

    but the mortgage companies.. not just one or two in isolated towns.. or regions..or even entire states… but hundreds/thousands of mortgage companies.. making these loans that they knew..that many of the borrowers would not be able to pay back…

    and they sold them as bundled assets to companies that could not or would not (and still won’t) write them down like other devalued assets would be and how the regulations for most financial businesses would have required them to mark them to market.

    Even now.. they will not do this so .. the choice is for the Government to basically buy these devalued mortgages .. and take the hit on them… and hold them until they gain their value back…

    so.. it’s not just a few dumb mortgage companies.. it’s an entire industry..

    okay so back to Ayn Rand ….”She despised all that was statist and regulatory seeing them as a form of theft. Individual freedom and responsibility are key. Altruism is nonsense. The ego is what matters. People serve themselves and society much better by adopting a selfish self-interest. Only free market capitalism can unlock true creativity and efficient production.”

    Given where we are right now… is Rand still relevant?

    Are the folks who subscribe to her philosophy.. still sticking with it.???

    Can the Republicans regain control of Government by running on their anti-regulation, anti-nanny-state theme?

    Bonus Question:

    Do tax cuts to the wealthy result in a healthy middle class?

    Double-triple Bonus:

    If Ronald Regan ran again today – right now – could he win?

  48. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    it was nationwide, industry-wide – right?

    Wasn’t it internqtional? I know Ireland had a boom and bust in housing. Are other counries regulated differetn from ours?

    RH

  49. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “….only 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury is needed to contaminate a 25-acre lake to the point where fish are unsafe to eat.”

    Yes I know that. The oint is that there is a lower toxic limit for everything, and everything is toxic above that limit. It is different for each substance.

    That is why we don’t consider leaf dropping toxic in the forest, but yet you would not have to ingest very much of that stuff before you find out how toxic it is.

    Anyway, this has nothing to do over the question of who owns the rights to pollute.

    RH

  50. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “Much of the pro-pollution …”

    I am NOT pro-pollution. All I’m saying is that a full system of property rights is one way to get at teh cheapest and best solution to PREVENTING pollution.

    If you would spend less time characterizing my position as “the enemy” and more time understanding it, or even raising valid questions instead of red herrings you might see SOME value in it.

    Instead, you prefer to think it is OK to steal.

    Or

    Put it another way. SOMEONE is oing to get rights or permission to pollute, which is functionally the same thing. They are going to make a lot of money from it. It is OUR atmosphere and OUR environment so WE are entitled to a piece of the action, which we can get with properly defined property rights.

    Otherwise the government will grant those rights to the big pollluters, just as the king did for Lord Fairfax. Everone else just gets to pay.

    RH

  51. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    …. when 1/70th of teaspoon is the “tipping” point… the margin of error is so tiny that you’re playing with fire…

    So you think we should ban every use of mercury, including energy saving lightbulbs, life saving apllications, space applications and all?

    Or do you think we establish use limits and let the users figure out what they are worth?

    RH

  52. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    EDF favors cap & trade.

    Yes, and the president of EDF favors market based solutions to pollution. In the end, that is what MDL's is going to be about.

    RH

  53. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    And let’s get this straight, just because I favor market based solutions, doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to command and control management in some ccircumstances.

    I’m in favor of some kind of guaranteed healthcare, but that does not mean I’m opposed to private health cre for anyone who thinks they can afford it.

    RH

  54. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    If you put these facts in front of the public – the vast majority of them will also soundly reject such fantasies…

    You keep saying that, and yet the graph I linked to suggests otherwise. It suggeststs there is a limit to what people will pay for environmental protection.

    They were willing to pay a lot more decades ago when there was no protection and the cost of not having it was high.

    Now there is some protection, people are beginning to feel the costs, and they wonder when enough is enough.

    If environmentalists pussh too hard (notice I said TOO HARD, not jsut hard enough), then that pendulum will swing back with more energy than if we had noe things correctly.

    That will be enrgy wasted.

    RH

  55. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    You don’t make the poor wealthy by making the rich poor.

    You also don’t make the poor wealthy by letting the rich keep all the money.

    We will have rich and poor, just as some people fail in school, but we have had a lot of grade inflation. Now we are arging what kind of curve we should grade on.

    RH

  56. Larry G Avatar

    If the American people are presented with clear information about pollution – there won’t be any debate about things like mercury and other toxics.

    Ray – you are portraying things this way:

    “SOMEONE is oing to get rights or permission to pollute, which is functionally the same thing. They are going to make a lot of money from it. It is OUR atmosphere and OUR environment so WE are entitled to a piece of the action, which we can get with properly defined property rights.

    Otherwise the government will grant those rights to the big pollluters, just as the king did for Lord Fairfax. Everone else just gets to pay.”

    WHO do you think the Government is?

    do you think the Government is an unelected King who were then grant big polluter “rights” that belong to “the people”?

    You are totally screwed up on this.

    The “government” …Ray.. is our elective representatives of “the people” and our elected government decides who get’s those “rights”.

    What you and the other pro-polluting people are advocating is that you pro-polluters get those rights… since you are “the people”.

    You are not “the people”.

    You are PART of the people – the majority of which ALL have “rights” to decide .. what is and is not acceptable from a pollution perspective.

    the polluter “rights” people consider those who would be affected by pollution – their “rights” as somehow different…and thus a contest of whose rights are “superior”.

    Ray – they’re all the same people – only those with different views about what “rights” are… and are not

    .. and we sort this all out at elections…

    and the polluter “rights” people – they lose…

    a majority of people in this country believe that individual “rights” to clean air and water PREVAIL over the “right to pollute”.

    the only way the pro-polluter people win is if they get to impose on everyone else what they think is the “correct” answer.

    There is no King..

    there is no dictatorship..

    there is no “decider”.

    you keep arguing as if there has got to be someone who is really in charge and that he is the one who can be trusted to do things fairly.. and that anything else ..especially a majority of votes …is “mob rule”…

    so you’re essentially saying that one guy in charge who will “decide” is better than “mob rule”.

    you keep looking for that piece of paper from way back when some sort of King-type person endowed “rights” to people that cannot be changed… later on..

    in other words – you cannot reconcile… Democracy and the right of all people to decide what each of them have in the way of rights.

    If we decide as a Democracy what “rights” we do have – that is “mob rule”… because some person a long time ago decided what our “rights” were and it cannot be changed…

    this is the basic philosophy of the pollution “rights” crowd.

    that somebody a long time ago endowed them with these rights and we can’t change it…

    what a load of BS

    RH – it’ called one man – one vote – get used to it.

  57. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    … who DO support the right to pollute as a property right

    No one suggests anyone has infinite porperty rights except those that claim thee is no right to pollute.

    The claim is only that property rights, such as they are must be properly defended.

    A scond claim is that if property rights were properly defined in the first place, with proper limits, and then proeperly defended, we would waste lot less time and energy in useless arguing over what the environment is “worth”.

    The prices that would develop for scarce resouces (pollution permits for mercury would be scarce indeed) would tell us what environmental resources are worth.

    I’ll grant there are property rights nut cases out there, just as there are eco-terrorists and other grades of environmental axtremists,but that does not mean that either the idea of protecting our environment OR the idea of ding it with market forces in place is a whacky idea.

    What is wahcko is the idea that we can manae the environment and the economy that depends on it through brute force, command and control policies that wind up confiscating porperty rights, AND which we know are wasteful an innefficient.

    Why would anyone argue for wasteful and inefficient quality control for the environment unless THEY think they can gain some advantage.

    They are wrong in thinking that they will gain some advantage in any case, but that won;t prevent thme from trying as long as we have a system that allows it.

    Which is precisely why the rules for environmental justice were written into law.

    In the end, either system winds up with some bureaucrat/scientist making a judgement call. The only difference is that with market based regulation we get a clear signal as to the results of that call, and a clear measuremtnt of the costs.

    Lary and others want to hide the costs until the sytem goes under like Enron.

    RH

  58. Larry G Avatar

    re: “No one suggests anyone has infinite porperty rights except those that claim thee is no right to pollute.”

    don’t we decide – as a society engaging in representative government what “property rights” are and are not?

    “The claim is only that property rights, such as they are must be properly defended.”

    are not “property rights” decided by all citizens via representative government?

    ” …we would waste lot less time and energy in useless arguing over what the environment is “worth”. “

    how much time is “wasted” or not is not up to you or other property rights advocates though… it’s decided by all folks with interests….

    “What is wahcko is the idea that we can manae the environment and the economy that depends on it through brute force, command and control policies that wind up confiscating porperty rights, AND which we know are wasteful an innefficient.”

    WHERE do you think these policies come from if not from representative government?

    “Why would anyone argue for wasteful and inefficient quality control for the environment unless THEY think they can gain some advantage.”

    they’d argue in opposition to your views about property and pollution rights…

    you get to advocate. they get to advocate. And you vote.

    do you not agree with that process?

    “Which is precisely why the rules for environmental justice were written into law.”

    once again..you are choosing to look at one small aspect of the overall laws and it does not apply in the way that you are saying…

    and again this proves..once more..you’ve got your own idea of right and wrong.. and you certainly are entitled to it but so are others who do not agree with you.

    and you have to decide at some point – and there is no King in charge… it’s called one man one vote.

    ” In the end, either system winds up with some bureaucrat/scientist making a judgement call.”

    per the elections.. and if that guy renders a judgment that a majority of voters disagree with – he will be replaced with someone who does represent the views of voters.

    “The only difference is that with market based regulation we get a clear signal as to the results of that call, and a clear measuremtnt of the costs.”

    no you’re are completely and totally wrong.

    you do not get to decide what “market based” means nor “measurement”.

    You get to vote.

    I get to vote.

    Others get to vote.

    And THEN we decide what is or is not market-based and how we measure.

    Why can you not get this through your head…????

    you and your fellow property and pollution right folks do not get to decide what is “right” or “wrong” in your own minds.

    you get to vote and so do I and others.

    that’s how we decide RH.

    “Lary and others want to hide the costs until the sytem goes under like Enron.”

    I don’t want anything hidden.

    You bring to light whatever info you think is relevant.

    And I do also – along with others…

    If you think info is hidden.. then get it out…

    but getting it out.. does not change the process of how we make decisions..

    you just cannot seem to reconcile the fact that your ideas of what are right and wrong do not constitute the reality.

    You are entitled to your views.

    You can advocate in any way that you wish – as can others who do not agree with you.

    At the end of the day.. we go off to the polls to decide to elect who we think will best represent our views.

    That’s all you get guy.

    You get no exclusive right to decide.. to determine what you think is right or wrong or to dictate to others what you thing “right” are or are not.

    If your ideas of what “market based” solutions are – are considered by others..to be extreme and wrong..you lose.

    if you want to prevail in your views of what is ‘stealing’ – you have to convince a majority of folks to agree with you on your definition of “stealing” ..or else – you lose.

    yammer on.. but at some point..you have to admit that you cannot dictate to others what you think is the right or wrong policies…

    If a majority of people think that your ideas of “market-based” solutions for mercury is “whacko” then guess what – your ideas are going to be not only considered “whacko” but they won’t go anywhere either…

    when I donate money to EDF – I do so precisely to keep the “whackos” in check…

    and RH.. guess what.. I actually have a “right” to do that…speaking of “rights”.

  59. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “The homes are STILL valuable assets but they have suffered a setback and it will take some number of years to recoup their full value.”

    Their full value is whatever people are willing and able to pay for them. That depends on the availability and cost of credit, jobs, transportation, and a lot of other things that come and go, like whether people believe the place will appreciate.

    The replacement value is whatever it would take to create essentially the same home today. It si almost always lower that the full value. That’s how developers make a profit.

    The intrinsic value is whatever it is worth to you, given your situation.

    The net present value is whatever twenty years worth of cash flow from the place is worth in todays dollars.

    Where we got screwed up is that we lost all connection betweent the net present value and the full value.

    Both for homes, and for the securities represented by them in the financial markets.

    Now, if I could just to get the county to tax me on the net present value of the farm, then they would be paying me instead of me paying them.

    Then we would hear a different tune about how much farms are saving the county in avoided infrastructure costs.

    RH

  60. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    don’t we decide – as a society engaging in representative government what “property rights” are and are not?

    No.

    A right is a right. If the governemtn allows it to you it is a PERMIT.

    I believe the Declaration describes inalienable rights as those you are entitled to regardless. That that permit you to overthrow the government if removed.

    Among them is life itself. No form of life is possible without using some energy and creating some waste. We call that work, or making a living, and we are as entitled to the fruits of that labor (called property) as we are to life itself. Otherwise we have anarchy, as Abe Lincoln pointed out.

    Every being uses energy and creates waste, and most beings get their energy by eating other beings. What this means is that most beings don’t even really have the right to life, but have actually the right to try to live in a competitive world. They live in anarchy, which we call the natural world and think is wonderful, until we have to live that way.

    As sentient beings we have created government so that the weak are not always killed: to protect minorities and the fruits of their labor which we call property.

    Some otherwise sentient beings have got it in their head that we created representative government as a substitute for mob rule, when the opposite is actually the case. We created it to protect the weak and their property rights which enable them the right to life.

    In addition to private property, we have developed the concept of community proerty, which everyone owns equally, weak or strong, rich or poor. We created that concept because the assets were becoming scarce.

    And no sooner have we created that concept of universal and equally owned property, some otherwise sentient beings want to claim more of it than others using mob rule as an excuse or enabling device.

    This turns the very reason for creating government on its head.

    Not only that, but they want to unbundle the property as if it was a bundle of sticks, and deny all use to everyone of some of the valuable sticks. They want to keep all of some sticks under their control: to own community property.

    The environment has value for its abilty to provde energy to us, and to keep us healthy, and also to absorb our wastes. If we own the environment then we won those attributes or property sticks equally.

    We all have equal rights to all of that value, whatever it is, as long as we claim it is our environment and the environment is seperable from out other property.

    Strangely enough, some of these otherwise sentitnt beings also clam that the right to dispse of waste ends at the physical “property” line or boundary established and protected by government papers.

    Then they also claim that it is not at the property line, but before that line, thereby destroying the concept of property. Where is it if it is not bounded by the lines as described?

    This also means that they would have unlimited rights to dispose of waste on their own property, as long as none of it ever leaves the property (or gets “near” the property boundary). Near seems to be a nebulous concept since some people think Yucca Flats is too near, eve if it is far away.

    Under this concept those with more property would have more environmental rights, because they would own all the disposal capacity represented by the part of the environment they own. Also under that view, theoretically they could also get paid for selling environmental property that falls on their real property; they could capture all the rain that falls to their property and sell it. They already sell the environmetal energy that falls on their property, in the form of firewood, for example.

    In the natural world no being owns anything but takes all he can get or needs. Natural beings live in a state of anarchy. In the sentient world there are two views: both views recognize private property.

    But one views public property as owned eqaully in all respects, and the other wants to assume all ownership of some attributes of public property by use of force.

    Strangely enough they claim ownership and control of these attributes because there are not property rights, without which there would be a state of anarchy.

    —————————–

    Government can decide what the total allowable attributes of environmental and community property is going to be, how much production and how much waste, where the boundaries are but the market is going to decide what the value is. The only issue is how the goods are described and the size of the maximum amounts that can be sold, plus the starting position in the gate. Wheter governemtn willl guarntee Lord Fairfax a win.

    As sentient beings, the market is our substitue for predation. That is where we compete to see which beings makes a living and which don’t.

    But some otherwise sentient beings think the government should decide that, based on mob rule.

    The whole argument of impending doom is that we will share the costs if nothing is done. What they want done is to share the costs unequally. That way they can own the benefits without paying the costs.

    Otherwise known as stealing.

    RH

  61. Larry G Avatar

    …. and in the end… in our form of government… we elect those who will represent the majority's views.

    .. this is how we elect Presidents, Senators, Congressman, Governors, etc

    .. we – as a society and as property owners – all of us property owners – decide what our individual "rights" are.

    and if we, as a society, decide that we will not allow markets to decide what pollution can be released or managed by cap & trade or other means… then that's the way it works.

    Yes.. we can have those who think that a majority that decides what our "rights" are – is "stealing" but why would a majority want to "steal" from each other, from themselves?

    The answer is that that a majority do not consider it "stealing' to delineate what each of our individual "rights" are – that it is a good thing for each to know where their individual rights end – and do not take from others.

    There is no king now.. or in the past… who "guarantees" that rights granted in the past are inviolate and cannot be changed.

    We know that is not true – as people in the past did have the right to discharge any amount of mercury and other chemicals … and now we know that they no longer have that right.

    So… we know that such rights are not inviolate and can and are changed … by those we elected to representative government.

    there are no king-granted inviolate "rights".

    "Rights" are, what we as a society, agree what they are.

    Those who believe that if they were allowed to put mercury in the environment 100 years ago – still have that right – and it cannot be taken away – are just not dealing with reality IMHO.

  62. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Well be opposed to rghts, but uderstand that it is not about rihts per se, they just happen to be the way to get the most environmental protection at the lowest cost.

    If you want more protection than that, then you are spending other people’s money. It is a mathematical fact.

    Now, having said that, I’ll admit we still don’t know how much protection at what cost, but there is only a way to zero in on the answer if it is the answer you want to find.

    If it isn’t, then you must be wiling to steal other people’s money.

    Pure math.

    RH

  63. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “you get to advocate. they get to advocate. And you vote.

    do you not agree with that process?”

    No, absolutely not, are you truly nuts? That isn’t how it works or anything like it.

    Sure we we elect representatives, and they pass laws, which ae then implemented by bureaucrats, who have their own agenda, but not much leeway in implementing it, if they want to keep their cushy jobs and health benefits, and stay out of jail.

    Right now the law is that no person or group or entitiy shuld have an undue advantage or disafvantage due to the enactment, enforcement, or lack of enforcement in environmentla regulations.

    That is the law, whether you believe it or not.

    It doesn’t say anything about the right to pollute or the level of pollution that will be permitted. by law, that is determined by the best available science.

    It is not done by vote, however votes cast can and do marginally influence the results,as we have seent he pendulum swing from democratic polluters to Republican polluters over the hears. That process is marginal, costly, and counterproductive. The best and cheapest environmental protection is not a political matter, and not something we can vote into place.

    (We could use a lot more good science, but not too many of our kids want to do what it takes for the money it pays.)

    It just turns out that property rights and a free market are the best cheapest and easiest way to make sure no advantage is taken or given up without a price attached. This, it turns out is very much akin to voting for environmentla protection, except now every vote has your hard earned dollars attached: you do not get to vote to spend or steal other peoples money.

    RH

  64. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “WHO do you think the Government is?”

    I think the government is the same entitity that already granted trading rights under the clean air act to the 445 biggest polluters.

    It is my air and your air and we should have our respective say in how those rights are spent. Anyone with any brains who wants clean air should be beating up their representatives to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

    Representative government does NOT mean selecting desired pollution levels by vote. If it did and if you are right a vote in favor of zero pollution would happen exactly once, and it would make prohibition look like a brilliant idea.

    RH

  65. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    why would a majority want to “steal” from each other, from themselves?

    You will notice that a majority very seldom steals from themselves: tht is what they have minorites for.

    RH

  66. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    ” In the end, either system winds up with some bureaucrat/scientist making a judgement call.”

    per the elections.. and if that guy renders a judgment that a majority of voters disagree with – he will be replaced with someone who does represent the views of voters.”

    The guy who makes that decsions is not elected. He is someone who is deliberately insulated from the election process as much as possible. It doesn;t always work;

    “William Ruckelshaus, longtime member of the Environmental Defense Fund and Director of the EPA, outlawed further use of DDT in 1972 despite the recommendation of the EPA Chairman Investigating Committee, which had heard six months of testimony on the use of the pesticide, and determined that DDT was completely safe. When Ruckelshaus outlawed further use of DDT, he signed the death warrant for hundreds of millions of helpless human beings living in third-world countries. He admitted later it was ‘political’.”

    Considerng the source, I frankly don;t beleive that quote, but theepoint is that some people do think the results are political, and they want it that wsy so that we WON’t get the best results, but rather THEIR results.

    Which amounts exactly to stealing.

    RH

  67. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Yeah, well Fred Krupp has said that anyne, “even a farmer” should be able to participate in the market which will help reduce emissions.

    Keep sending that guy your money, please.

    RH

  68. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Krupp also bases the cost of preventing greenouse gas warming as one half to one percent of the US Economy by 2030.

    That forecast WAS based on the assumption that the economy doubles by then. Anybody here think the economy will double by then?

    If so, go buy some stocks right now. You will need the profits to pay your electric bill.

    This kind of projection (aside from probably being wrong) is one of those little half truths.

    Yes, the economy may not be much smaller over all, but YOUR piece of it could be a LOT smaller.

    Most people would call that stealing.

    RH

  69. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is determined to publicize just how much environmental opposition derails all kinds of energy projects—including renewable energy. The Chamber just launched a new website, “Project No Project,” that aims to chronicle runaway NIMBYism across the U.S.

    To take a single, well-known case of environmental opposition to new projects: the Sunrise Power Link transmission line in California. The Chamber’s site lays out the status of the project (“In progress, with opposition”); the prospects (“Likely”); and a brief background on the dispute in question.”

    From Environmental Capital.

    Now, if this project is “likely” to go ahead, why is it that the opposition cannot see that, and choose to spend their money and effort where they can win?

    Anser, it’s the ideology, not the money.

    I like ideology, too, but I prefer ideoloy that is also smart about money.

    Especially when it is my money, no theirs.

    RH

    RH

  70. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell may be among the nation’s staunchest promoters of clean energy and green jobs. But as it turns out, he’s not quite ready to let go of jobs at the traditional, carbon-belching oil industry.

    The governor publicly whipped Philadelphia-based oil refiner Sunoco after it said it was laying off 20% of its worker to cut costs. …….

    because of the rage for green energy, the company faces tough years ahead. Last year ethanol displaced a sizeable chunk—about 7%–of oil-based gasoline, Sunoco’s main product…….

    The kind of policies promoted by Mr. Rendell and others, including more fuel-efficient cars, will only make things worse for oil refiners.”

    You dont get something for nothing.
    You can’t have it both ways.

    Penssylvanians and their duly elected governor will have to decide which they want more: clean air, or a place to live and something to eat.

    RH

  71. Larry G Avatar

    re: “If it isn’t, then you must be wiling to steal other people’s money.”

    if you put it to a vote and everyone has to pay – they call it taxation RH.

    now it’s true.. there are folks “out there” who say that taxation is stealing but most think of them as whackos and crackpots.

  72. Larry G Avatar

    re: “It doesn’t say anything about the right to pollute or the level of pollution that will be permitted. by law, that is determined by the best available science. “

    I don’t know where you get this.

    Ray – who do you think defines the term “best available science”?

    you can have a bunch of folks “out there” making such a claim.

    How does the government decide this?

    and who is the government?

  73. Larry G Avatar

    re: “It is not done by vote, however votes cast can and do marginally influence the results,as we have seent he pendulum swing from democratic polluters to Republican polluters over the hears.”

    Where do you think the Clean Air and Clean Water Act came from Ray – ?

  74. Larry G Avatar

    re: “It just turns out that property rights and a free market are the best cheapest and easiest way to make sure no advantage is taken or given up without a price attached.”

    Ray – what if a majority of voters do not agree with your view on this?

    ” This, it turns out is very much akin to voting for environmentla protection, except now every vote has your hard earned dollars attached: you do not get to vote to spend or steal other peoples money.”

    you don’t?

    who defines what your vote can do or not do?

    If a majority of people vote to take your land – they can – even if you think it is stealing..they can do it.

    If they can take your land – and pay you what they think it is worth and not you.. isn’t that in essence, in your mind, “stealing”?

    My point is that the folks who outvoted you – do not consider it “stealing” to start with – only you do.

  75. Larry G Avatar

    re: “I think the government is the same entitity that already granted trading rights under the clean air act to the 445 biggest polluters.”

    do you think that same entity can take away those rights?

  76. Larry G Avatar

    re: “Representative government does NOT mean selecting desired pollution levels by vote. If it did and if you are right a vote in favor of zero pollution would happen exactly once, and it would make prohibition look like a brilliant idea.”‘

    It does.

    It says that pollution is restricted if it causes harm to people.

    it never was and never is zero pollution….

    it is instead.. what harms people ….

    if what harms people is more than zero …then it is indeed zero pollution.

    the point here is that what is allowed or not.. IS, in fact, ultimately determined by representative government.

    Representative government is what is telling power plants companies that they cannot build plants that pollute mercury at levels that they used to – that the new ones have to pollute even less than they did before.

    this is the way it is with virtually every substance – defined as a pollutant.

    there are no rights to pollute.

    you do not have a previously-granted right to pollute.

    The right to pollute is NOT a property right.

    Your ability to pollute – what you can pollute and what you cannot pollute and in what concentrations is determined not by you or fellow advocates but instead representative government that represents ALL property owners including those who do not want pollution on their property.

    When they tell you that you cannot pollute – it does not matter whether or not you think in doing so they are “stealing” from you or not if that is the law ..that was passed by a majority of representative government.

  77. Larry G Avatar

    re: “You will notice that a majority very seldom steals from themselves: tht is what they have minorites for”

    but the law applies to everyone including themselves – right?

  78. Larry G Avatar

    re: “The guy who makes that decsions is not elected. He is someone who is deliberately insulated from the election process as much as possible. It doesn;t always work;”

    it works MOST of the time the way it is intended.

    We do not have people who decide what the law is by themselves and who continue to do so without being removed from their job.

    and Ray.. if they violate the law, they lose more than their job.

  79. Larry G Avatar

    re: “When Ruckelshaus outlawed further use of DDT, he signed the death warrant for hundreds of millions of helpless human beings living in third-world countries. “

    do you know how dumb this statement is?

    do you think the laws of this country apply to other countries?

    Do you think an EPA bureaucrat can tell France what to do with DDT ?

  80. Larry G Avatar

    “… so that we WON’t get the best results, but rather THEIR results.”

    in YOUR opinion but NOT in the opinion of a majority…

    no individual defines what the “best results” are – thank goodness because folks like you would want those folks to be in charge…

  81. Larry G Avatar

    “Keep sending that guy your money, please.”

    I will. It pays huge dividends and makes sure that the whackos are kept in check.

  82. Larry G Avatar

    Environmental Protection is a wide-ranging, dynamic …every changing effort.

    There are all kinds of players, each with their own view of what is right and wrong including those who like to use words like “stealing”.

    At the end of the day, voters will elect (and unelect) those that best represent their views.

    If a majority of people do not think a particular pollutant is safe – the net result is that … eventually it will be further restricted.. or even outlawed.

    And no individual in this country has now or was ever granted an inviolate right to pollute..nor to decide on their own what they think is or is not pollution…

    and whatever right they have right now to pollute; it can be changed – and it is.

    You don’t have that “right”.

    The only “right” that you have is the right to ask for a permit.

    If that permit was permanent.. and it was yours forever and you could hand it off to your kids or sell it on the open market to any willing buyer who then would have that right -you could rightly call it a “right”.

    but we know that this is not the case.

    You can advocate for what you think is the correct numbers that can go on a permit…

    but you cannot make up your own.

    well.. you can… but then you’re living in a dream world.. and then in prison..once they find out you’ve got your own rules.

    and there are folks.. siting in prison today – who claimed that someone stole from them and they were merely getting their stuff back…

    so yes.. we do have folks who have their own definitions of “stealing” also…

    but it’s really hard for most of us to understand that by telling you that you cannot discharge things from your property onto other folks properties ….

    that this is “stealing” on their part…

    the only way that would be true is if you had a prior-established right to do so

    ..and we know ..and now you admit.. that you do not…

    so how could it be “stealing” to stop you from doing something you have to right to do in the first place?

    You know.. in the bigger context of capitalism and Anne Rand… this is the same issue.

    Pure capitalism says that you can do whatever you want to make money.

    Regulation says that if others believe that what you do – can harm others.. that rules can be enacted to restrict you from doing it.

    At that point.. we do have folks running around claiming that such restrictions amount to a “taking” of a “right”.

    The reality is that any “rights” in a Representative Government – are what a majority of people agree that they are and most of the time – people do not lose a “right” unless others think that harm is done to others and it needs to be restricted.

    This is the basis, for instance, why – you can be put in jail for selling pot even though the transaction is purely a private one between two willing parties.

    We have a bunch of people who say that this is wrong to “take” that right.. indeed.. to deprive you of liberty.. for engaging in commerce …

    but …if a majority of people think that act is harmful to society -then guess what?

    You want a better system?

    You want a benevolent king in charge?

    And of course, you’d want one that saw things …totally your way – right?

    heh heh…

    I’d like a King in charge to.

    but you know.. you would not like my King at all…

    😉

  83. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    What you are suggesting is just as silly as if we voted on how much a ton weighs.

    RH

  84. Larry G Avatar

    fortunately for all of us, the nature of how we view and measure and respond to pollution is so varied as to not be comparable at all to weighing a ton.

    It’s not a given that we will forever, always pollute the same amount no matter what we do…

    that as long as we need electricity, for instance, that we have absolutely no choice but to put mercury in our rivers – to put as much mercury in our rivers as we did 10, 20, or 30 years ago – as CLEARLY we put less in our rivers than we used to – and we still have electricity.

    You think that we cannot create something like LEDs that will use less energy to deliver the same amount of light without some other compensating impact and that all we are doing is essentially trading mercury pollution for some other kind..

    you see it as a perfect closed system where pollution is an inevitable impact that really cannot be reduced.. only traded for other kinds..

    and from that.. you say that essentially that if we stop mercury pollution.. that we are not really stopping pollution.. that it will .. “balloon” out somewhere else…as some other kind of pollution

    It’s a nice theory but until you provide conclusive evidence of it – “conclusive” – not in your mind or your same-thinking folks… but that you convince enough voters, enough scientists, enough elected folks of it then it won’t be adopted as the basis for pollution policy.

    You’re essentially arguing that it takes some of your productivity to build a drain field and that in the longer run.. it’s better to not “steal” from you by making you build a drain-field instead of just piping it to a creek.

    Fortunately for the rest of us – we require you to NOT pipe it to a creek and yes to use some of your hard labor to build that drain field.

    In the meantime.. we will restrict other pollution when we feel that we must to protect people from clear harm from it and yes.. it will require a trade of our productivity for it. and Yes that productivity could be used in other ways to provide us with other wealth but again.. we require some of your labor to be spent on preventing pollution.

    It’s the law.. and a majority of us agreed to that law.

    And we do this no matter how stridently you argue that because we live in a closed system – it is your “right” to…essentially pollute your share of it – as a property right.

    RH – our system does not work the way you have spent a gazillion words …first arguing that it should work that way and then.. that if it does not.. that it is ‘stealing’.

    In some weird way.. you are essentially arguing Ann Rands viewpoint – that regulation IS .. , in fact, “stealing” from the individual.

    That the purpose and role of government is to not infringe on individual rights with respect to commerce.

    but any government that is representative government – by definition – is not ruled like a Kingdom but rather by one man, one vote – a majority.

    We have a representative government that passes laws that apply equally to everyone in terms of what they can and cannot do. We do this – whenever a majority of us agree to do it.

    And if we think the current laws are “wrong” – then we advocate for changes to them… and if enough other folks are convinced.. we make the changes.

    We can do this to further restrict pollution.

    We can also do this to un-restrict pollution if it is shown to enough people’s satisfaction to be more costly than it saves.

    But the overriding point here is that we do not decide these things based on what a small group of people believe.

    You have to convince other property owners of your beliefs before you can implement what you believe is correct.

    And what we have decided is that you and I do not have an inherent, inviolate right to pollute nor do we have a right to decide what is and what is not pollution nor do we have a right to decide the cost-benefit of pollution.

    None of these things do you have as an individual right – whether you own property or not.

    You could be the smartest guy in the world – who really knows what the “right” answer is – but it does you no good at all unless you convince enough others that you are….

    you have two choices. A representative government or a Kingdom under rule by one person or a small group.

    A gazillion words … won’t change the reality here.

  85. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “Environmental Protection is a wide-ranging, dynamic …every changing effort.”

    That is why it is best managed by market forces, within limits set by the government. Even Krupp agrees with that, but his mistake is in thinking that those limits will be continuously and incrementally moved lower. this idea is based onthe faulty thiking that we can eventually, with enough money, reach a zxero pollution condition. In fact, the governor of PA even has a plan entitled zero pollution: it is a complete fanasy and amounts to false advertising.

    ————————-

    “If a majority of people do not think a particular pollutant is safe – the net result is that … eventually it will be further restricted.. or even outlawed.”

    That is fine – as long as they agree to share the costs equally. if they don’t agree to that, then they are stealing from someone. some people claim (and I don’t know if it is true) that the loss of DDT has cost millions of lives (more likely we switched to some other chemical, as we did with CFC’s). Either way, there were costs involved that we all payed, one way or another.

    Right now, there is no way to evaluate what those costs were any more than there is to evaluate the benefits of eliminating DDT. the answers are all political. But politically we COULD agree on ways to evaluate those answers or those questions.

    And when we do that we will almost always get a better answer than the political answer. For decades, the political answer was that the Earth was the center of the universe and heavy balls fall faster than light ones.

    When we get the right answers, our current view of environmental protection will appear just as quaint and just as clueless. Even our elected representatives cannot pass and enforce rules that violate physics.

    RH

  86. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “….we will restrict other pollution when we feel that we must….. “

    And that is precisely the problem we have.

    RH

  87. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “…we require some of your labor to be spent on preventing pollution.”

    And we also require that you expend no more of your labor (property) than the next person.

    We are alot closer to the first part than we are the second.

    It is a three part system : Economy, Environment, Equality. The new Zealnders have recognized that and it is one reason why they are rated number one in the efficiency of their policies.

    RH

    RH

  88. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    ” but rather by one man, one vote – a majority.”

    Sure, and they can vote to steal if they like.

    It is still stealing, and that is why we have laws against it.

    You think that “the majority” is one body of collecive thought, but it isn’t. One majority has voted for equal treatment and another majority seems to be voting in favor of stealing: they want “the polluters” to pay, as if the polluters were actually someone else.

    It is a mental and ethical fraud.

    RH

  89. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “…do you know how dumb this statement is?

    You don’t pay any attentionat all, do you? I disavowed the entire quote, merely presented it to illustrate exactly how dumb a politcal solution can be.

    I’m glad tosee you agree.

    ——————————-

    “…do you think the laws of this country apply to other countries?”

    Are you saying that people in other countries are still using DDT to kill the mites that cause all kinds of human diseases?

    RH

  90. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “And if we think the current laws are “wrong” – then we advocate for changes to them… and if enough other folks are convinced.. we make the changes.”

    Go look at the graph again. That is exactly what it is telling you. it akes a long time to steer this ship, and we need to start now, before the pendulum swings too far against us.

  91. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “We can do this to further restrict pollution.

    We can also do this to un-restrict pollution if it is shown to enough people’s satisfaction to be more costly than it saves.”

    Precisely. Exactly.

    That is all I wanted to hear.

    Now, how do we go about accurately and fairly assessing, measuring, estimating, and paying those costs? How do we solve the political problems involved in ageeing to the METHODS to be used, because invariably some will claim that the methods themselves are slanted. We have already seen taht when EPA changed the number for SVHL.

    They will do that in order to try to gain an upper hand – in violation of the laws for quality.
    But, it is a lot easier to agree on a method to measure by than it is to agree on the amount of pollution to be allowed.

    It seems to me that gettng a full understanding of SVHL is a good place to start. The value we pick isn’t as important as the idea that it be uniformly applied. We ought to be able to agree on that.

    But then we would have to agree to use the same value on both sides of every issue, even when new information develops.

    That way we could at least BEGIN to evaluate the costs of some absolute crisis over the next absolute crisis. As it stands now, every crisis has a tipping point that means catastrophe, and all of them demand all the money we have to fix.

    When you are desperate for that much money, it seems to justify stealing, but it doesn’t. Which is why we have the equality laws.

    RH

  92. Larry G Avatar

    “Now, how do we go about accurately and fairly assessing, measuring, estimating, and paying those costs? How do we solve the political problems involved in ageeing to the METHODS to be used, because invariably some will claim that the methods themselves are slanted. We have already seen taht when EPA changed the number for SVHL.

    They will do that in order to try to gain an upper hand – in violation of the laws for quality.”

    who is “they”?

    don’t you think .. no matter what you think or I think or others.. than.. in the end.. in order for something to go forward… that enough people have to be convinced of whatever method will be used?

    I don’t think folks are opposed to different ways of doing business because they are “desperate for money” and therefore are in favor of “stealing”.

    I think most folks want to have a fair and just approach that at the same time protects the public from damage that we have seen actually occur and still does.

    I don’t think you or anyone else will convince a majority that a different system is needed unless you can convince them that more pollution won’t be the outcome.

    Most folks do not buy the premise that in order for us to prosper that we must pollute more and more.

    they believe the opposite.

    that we do dumb things that cause pollution that we don’t need to be doing … in the first place…

    like insulating with asbestos instead of some other equally effective insulation that is not dangerous.

    they do not see this as the inevitable “pick your poison”.. i.e. no matter what method you choose to insulate.. you’ll have to suffer pollution.

    They see it instead as choosing the things that serve our needs ..that don’t pollute ..or they pollute much, much less of the choices given.

    They don’t see it as vital that we dump kepone or dioxin in rivers so we can get rid of wooly aphids…or some such.

    they want pesticides that kill the critters and then break down into harmless byproducts rather than run off as permanent pollution in our waterways.

    Until you can convince them… that there is no such thing as a pollution-free method of insulating.. and they believe that there is…

    you won’t convince them to change…

    and if you think denying someone from making a living by producing asbestos for insulation is “stealing”.. I got some news for you.

    Only in your mind..not the majority of people.

    If what you say is really true.. then you will have to provide .. virtually irrefutable evidence to overcome what folks believe right now.

    and that’s the way our system works..

    it ain’t perfect by a long shot but it’s way the heck better than how they do business in many 3rd world countries – which I would challenge you – is the way that we used to do business 100 years ago.. and have gotten better at…

    and that we need to convince these 3rd world countries to follow our lead…

  93. Larry G Avatar

    RH – MOST folks don’t think we are doing pollution policy wrong.

    they think we are getting BETTER at it… and that we need to do more of what we are doing right now…

    they don’t see us as going backwards…

    if you think .. we are going backwards.. you have to prove it… not just say it…

    you won’t get folks to change the current policies that we have UNLESS you show them how they are being harmed from those policies…

    and right now.. most folks think we are getting better …with less harm resulting…

  94. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “RH – MOST folks don’t think we are doing pollution policy wrong.”

    I agree. That is exactly what the graph I presented shows.

    But it is a little like saying the CA GDP is very large when it is shrinking 3% a year.

    It is the trend, that I am warning about. Every year fewer people are willng to pay as much for pollution control and more people are favoring the economy over the environment.

    As it stands now this probably means we are spending too much on one at the expense of the other, although you won’t agrree.

    If those lines cross will still be worse off than we might be, but in the opposite direction. it may take years or decades to correct.

    I could be wrong. Both sides may come to their senses and the lines will merge. If that heppens, then we will havea true consensus and your position will be correct.

    As it stands now you may well argue that this is what most people want. But it NECESSARILY means that other people are being taken advantage of in terms of paying for the environment that we have, and ALL of us are diminished by this inequality.

    In other words, it is stealing, and just because the majority does it does not make it right, or even legal.

    You seem to think the majority is one body, but there are different majorities on diffferent issues, and at least one majority has decided that inequalities in environmental services or costs are illegal.

    RH

  95. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “…most folks think we are getting better …with less harm resulting…”

    How can we know if less harm results when we do not have prices on the goods being traded? You do agree there is a tradeoff between unlimited production and unlimited environmental protection, no?

    RH

  96. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “…you won’t get folks to change the current policies that we have UNLESS you show them how they are being harmed from those policies…

    I’m not suggesting we change the current policies. I’m ONLY suggesting we agree on methods to measure the harm, and one of the best method is market trading.

    How can you show them the harm without an agreed method to measure it? I can show you that it is a tone of harm, but first we have to agree on what a ton is. Much f the basis for the environmental argument is that such a thing is either unknowable, or infinite.

    So first you say it cannot be shown, and then yo say we can’t change the rules unless you show me. It is yet another version of the same old circular arguments used by environmentalists on this issue.

    It is a lousy argument and eventually it will fail. The time to fix it is while environmentalists and the environmental movement still has currency and momentum.

    If you are right, the system of “weights and measures” that I am proposing will show people what the real cost of environmental harm is being done. Then they will be willing to pay MORE for more environmental protection, AND they will have a fair way to pay for it.

    The part you don’t seem to get is that stronger property rights, better and more definition of rights, and more protection of rights, in the end means more and better environmental protection, not less.

    For private property it means you can invest n proerty and improvements without a “taking” looming on the horizon, and of rpublic goods it means that people have a tangible individual stake in what happens, because it is worth money to them: money that cannot be “taken” by arbirary changes in proerty rules.

    There is only one reason that any rational environmentalist doesn’t or won’t see the truth to this. That is because in addition to providing stronger and more environmental protection, it is also equitable, and that means some environmental advocates might have to pay for what they want instead of being allowed to steal it.

    RH

  97. Larry G Avatar

    “How can we know if less harm results when we do not have prices on the goods being traded? You do agree there is a tradeoff between unlimited production and unlimited environmental protection, no?”

    because we do measure how much pollution we have and we know how much we have relative to previous years.

    re: “There is only one reason that any rational environmentalist doesn’t or won’t see the truth to this. That is because in addition to providing stronger and more environmental protection, it is also equitable, and that means some environmental advocates might have to pay for what they want instead of being allowed to steal it.”

    I think you’ll find that most environmentalists are IN FAVOR of stricter pollution laws even if it drives up the price.

    Isn’t that the deal with reducing mercury and GHGs?

    they want to pay more.

    they want everyone to pay more.

    from their point of view – their “property rights” are air and water that is safe to breathe and drink.

    they are opposed to air quality that says you should stay indoors on “red” days.. or having to buy water filters or filtered water because the rivers have too much pollution and we cannot remove it to proper safe levels for drinking water.

    If you want to change the rules – you basically have to convince a majority of people who will elected leaders who will represent their wishes.

    Your goal is not to change the environmentalists minds but instead the much larger pool of people who are not your classic environmentalists.

    Now..you cannot shut the environmentalists up.. they are free to advocate – as you are – but at the end of the day.. you have to convince the larger pool of people … or else suck on your chin… and yammer on about Environmental “justice”.

    you can continue to blame those whom you disagree with.. but it won’t get you to where you say we ought to be…

    so far.. the property rights folks are losing the argument about pollution…

    they started losing some time ago and they took a major hit when the Clean Water and Clean Air act were passed…

    … and Bush came into office fully intending to gut both those laws..

    and he failed… he managed to “ding” them.. but even that is going to be temporary….

    I don’t think you’ll convince the larger group of people that more “property rights” will lead to less pollution … though

  98. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “I don’t think you’ll convince the larger group of people that more “property rights” will lead to less pollution … though”

    First of all, you are still assuming that there is a larger set of people, which might be the case, right now.

    The pollution level allowed is set by the government, not by the market. You get whatever is allowed, if you want less, then you collectively argue to have the government allow less, just as you say, but everyone gets equal shares of whatever it is.

    After that,the market takes over. It does not guarantee you less pollution but it does guarnatee the lowest cost and most valuable production for whatever the pollution allowed.

    At its best, this may mean companies find new ways to reduce “Their” pollution so they can sell the credits. In that case you do not get less pollution but you get more production for the same pollution.

    This si Jevon’s Paradox and it means it bcomes less expensive in pollution costs to produce more stuff. The stuff that gets produces is what people will pay the most for which has the cehapest pollution costs, so it is effectively less expensive to control pollution than the starting position.

    Then, if the market can afford it and the people don’t revolt, government can ratchet down pollution levels another notch. That is how the method lowers pollution.

    ——————————–

    But, it might not work. That is the risk you take. What it will lead to is the lowest combined costs of goods and environmental damage at the pollution level(s) you set. If you lower the cap and prices go up a lot, then you may have reached a point where pollution is TOO low and too costly. You would get a very strong market signal if we ever get to where that happens.

    It will be obvious and people will be very unhappy, unless they are truly convinced that the only other option is massive imminent death.

    If you want less pollution than that, then it comes at the cost of production and the cost of what people can afford to buy. Once that happens you are positively getting your desire for “less pollution than optimal” at someone else’s cost, which basically means their ability to make a living.

    That much is plain old ordinary math.

    The only real difference between this and your plan is that people vote with their own money instead of someone else’s. It is fundamentally more honest than simpl;e majority desire. Have yoru people Vote with their own real money, and then see if you still have the “larger group of people”.

    —————————-

    Otherwise it is like asking what would you be willing to pay for a Hollywood mansion from people who could never afford it. By comparing their hypothetical prices for various mansions you can geta very accurate idea of what they would like to have, but no idea if they can afford it.

    Sure, I’d love to have zero pollution, but I know I can’t afford it.

    “how much have you got, we’ll take it all (or almost all so the court doesn’t call it a taking) and get your environment as clean as we can for the money.

    Great, what am I supposed ot live on, I still can’t afford it.

    OK then, we’ll take everything except what you need for a subsistence living. You can carve wood with stone tools.

    Great, I can deal with that, where can I throw away all my stuff like the bigscreen TV?

    You can’t you have to keep it on your own property.

    Well, yeah, but then I get taxed on personal property, what do I pay that with?

    Not my problem, you want a clean environment or whaaaat?

    RH

  99. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “because we do measure how much pollution we have and we know how much we have relative to previous years.”

    You are dreaming, and not only that, even you don’t even believe this yourself.

    What was it you were saying about water measurements leading into the Chesapeake? Nobody knows what’s really out there? The Susquehannah isn’t really the biggest source?

    Come on.

    RH

  100. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “they want to pay more.

    they want everyone to pay more.

    from their point of view – their “property rights” are air and water that is safe to breathe and drink.”

    Well at last you have come out and said it. They want everyone to pay more for what they value most: their property rights. Taht is exactly right and exactly what i have been trying to say

    They are making a superior claim, that the rights they value are worth more, so everyone should pay, to help them out. As soon as they do that they are puuting their hand in someone eleses pocket to support their habit, which they have no right to do.

    By the exact same (reverse) argument the pople on the other side have no right to claim the property is worth less than it is.

    So how do you decide?

    You have an auction, or a sale, or allow tax deductible charitable gifts. Whatever it is is is SOME kind of market.

    Whatever pollution level is set has a market value. Government can set the standards, but they can’t set the price. And they might not even be able to enforce the standards, as in prohibition. A black market is the signal gov’t ment has forded the legal price to be too high.

    RH

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