Wednesday, January 25, 2012

sad, but true

  • ...just as democracy has not guaranteed rationality in economic policy, it will also be a poor protector of personal liberty. The democratic masses are now sufficiently conditioned to believe that politics and state action are the solution to every problem, and when the crisis intensifies and anxiety levels rise, the majority will happily sign away the remaining bits of individual freedom and property rights in a desperate but entirely counterproductive bid to stem the tide.
The quote above is from the latest in a fine series of posts subsequent to his book on Paper Money Collapse by Detlev Schlichter.  In contrast to the current US President, Schlichter appears to have a clear grasp on economics, capitalism and the basis for prosperity.

For example:
  •  On the basis of economic theory and historical experience, the life expectancy of a societal model with 50 percent or more government control over the economy does therefore not look promising. The taxing, resources-consuming state-parasite must constantly weaken and sooner or later kill the productive and wealth-creating market-host. When does this happen? Well, we are about to find out, as we are now all part of some gigantic real-life experiment, bravely conducted by the current policy establishment in Europe and elsewhere at our own expense and that of our children. Across the EU, the share of government spending in the economy is already around 50 percent, depending whose numbers you believe. If we could account for regulation and interventionist legislation, the state’s grip on economic decision-making is certainly larger. To call such an economy capitalist is a joke, albeit perhaps not as cruel a joke as the one the economy itself, with its persistently anaemic performance, is playing on the Keynesian economists and their ridiculous clamour for ever more government spending to boost ‘aggregate demand’.
  • Anybody with any knowledge of economics should feel uneasy at the sight of a country where half of recorded economic activity is conducted by the state.
Rather than a sense of unease, the mass herd of mainstream media appears to be doing its best effort to rationalize and legitimize the ideology of state control over the economy.  Find one example in all of human history where this has been a sustainable success.

When ever the answer is given as "state control over the economy", you know one of two things:
  • the wrong questions have been asked, or
  • someone is seeking to exert power and control using the state as their instrument of personal aggrandizement.

Sad but true.

becoming a green hero....

As a follow up to an improvised chat I had with a student in the coffee line, I want to share a scenario for you to ponder:
  • You land your spaceship on Earth but know nothing about the planet or its inhabitants, armed only with superior technology (you are after all an inter-galactic space/time traveler) and a well-intentioned desire to assist if possible.
  •  You ask your on-board computer for a print out of the key data on the planet and its peoples: you get data for "countries" listing income per capita; annual death rate, birth rate and infant mortality; life expectancy; some trends for the last 200 years for 200 countries;  an index of political freedom; and then some data on pollution levels, which includes per capita levels of "waste" -- being from another planet you have no idea what this last item is, but what the heck, computer lists it, must have some relevance.
  • Being of superior intellect you ask the computer to run a quick correlation analysis to help you determine what to do and how you can help.  
  • You can see from the data that over 200 years the planet has been steadily improving in all areas, in all countries but some parts still lag and could be classed as "less developed" "under developed" or just in an earlier stage of development -- note, have to learn the language these people use, don't want to offend anyone from the get-go! (Hmmm, wonder if these people still use violence?)
  • Anyways your data show that prosperity and waste are highly correlated: light-bulb!  You can bring more "waste" or even better help the poor places generate greater amounts of waste and, according to your data, their incomes will rise, their life expectancy will increase, infant mortality decrease and malaria disappear -- and you will be a hero.  
  • And as a tiny green alien, you would,of course, be a "green hero".
Now you still don't know cause from effect, but hey, who's perfect anyways?

Part 2: denouement

The point is not that waste is by definition worthless and useless, it is the conditions that create that value that are significant and meaningful.

A weakness of capitalism is it generates waste.  A strength is it generates prosperity.

So, if we educate concerned and active young people that waste is bad and should be curtailed, we have just focused on an answer based on flawed presumptions: fear and guilt -- based on an incorrect presumption about limits.  We then take their energy and enthusiasm and direct them to address waste.  Great. Even if they significantly reduce waste for the wealthiest 1 billion (which has not proven possible), what difference have they made to the lives of the lowest 1 billion?

Conversely, if we focus on strengths and hope, we challenge their education to ask the right questions as to how do we create prosperity for the lowest 1 billion -- implementation of sustainability that is actually transformative.  Poverty is antithetical to sustainability.

The first construct is stasist and does not significantly alter anything: the second is inherently dynamist and does: wealth is a necessary condition for sustainability whereas poverty is what kills people and degrades the planet.

So why does convergent thinking in education stigmatize wealth?  Rather than inspire or encourage any graduate work on waste, education should be inspiring and facilitating the examination of creative wealth creation contextualized and "in country" for those places most in need of development and wealth creation.

If waste management is the presumptive answer, the wrong question is being asked.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

it's all politics...

Most people still assume that resource management and environmental decisions depend upon sound science, rational policy making and human values of progress.  In fact, they reflect a fixation on political winds of convenience and contrivance.  Too often, the results are an act of "national insanity".  The latest example is the delay and apparent "rejection" of the Keystone pipeline by the Obama Administration, which even the mainstream media recognizes as stupid and ideological from a policy perspective, perhaps the worst political mistake of his entire presidency.

  • It isn’t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and — beyond the symbolism — won’t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.
  • This seems like a truly simple determination. Iran is threatening to blockade the 20 percent of the world’s oil supply that flows through the Strait of Hormuz. The American economy is struggling from high unemployment. The volatility of oil prices, reflected in periodic spikes at the gas pump, is a threat to productivity. A privately funded pipeline project that would create tens of thousands of jobs while helping stabilize America’s energy supply clearly seems to be in the national interest.
  •  The Keystone XL pipeline would have single-handedly carried more energy to the United States than the sum of all the green energy projects funded by the Obama Administration.  And it would have done so entirely with private  funds rather than the Administrations increasingly ill-fated and ham-handed attempts at venture capitalism with taxpayer funds.
Stupid is, as stupid does.  Perhaps this will be the re-election slogan for the Obama Administration.