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#298243 - 01/20/17 01:46 PM A resilient economy
logtroll Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8439
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
Infrastructure expenditures do not result in economic improvement in the long term

Quote:
All of the programs and incentives put in place by the federal and state governments to induce higher levels of growth by building more infrastructure has made the city of Lafayette functionally insolvent. Lafayette has collectively made more promises than it can keep and it’s not even close. If they operated on accrual accounting — where you account for your long term liabilities — instead of a cash basis — where you don’t — they would have been bankrupt decades ago. This is a pattern we see in every city we’ve examined. It is a byproduct of the American pattern of development we adopted everywhere after World War II.
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#298244 - 01/20/17 03:59 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 15014
I found the article (and ancillary links) interesting, and a good peek into unintended consequences. Growth, as a goal, is an elusive and unsustainable model. There is, however, a glaring hole in the logic of the piece that is subtly elided: the squeezing of local government by penuriousness. It is not the creation of the infrastructure alone that has created this crisis, but the fashionable ideological argument that "government is too big" and the idolization of the rugged individual over the collective interest. We don't want to pay for what we've got.

In 1978 two-thirds of California voters were convinced by huckster Howard Jarvis to cut off their noses to spite their faces by passing Prop 13 in what was popularly called a "tax revolt". What it really was is a scam that plays on a different human tendency than risk-aversion: greed. Jarvis' successors (Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, Ronald Reagan, the GOP - and now, Donald Trump) have weaponized the process by demonizing government and convincing people "you can have what you have, and not pay for it." The result has been a perpetual whittling away at infrastructure spending at every level of government that has hollowed out America - and they ain't done yet!

When voters have the opportunity, they tend to vote against paying any price - bond issues, tax assessments, levies. They elect politicians who promise to "cut" without considering benefits received. It's how you get the anomalous image of tea party activists protesting taxes and regulations with bumper stickers saying "keep your hands off my social security". They want the benefits of the ACA without the burden of the administration of it. They want to bite the hand, but still get fed.

Yes, growth has costs, and humans tend to misapprehend risk and defer costs, as the article notes. But the elephant in the room is the voters' desire to eat the cake and expect to still have it in the future.
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A well reasoned argument is like a diamond: impervious to corruption and crystal clear - and infinitely rarer.

Here, as elsewhere, people are outraged at what feels like a rigged game -- an economy that won't respond, a democracy that won't listen, and a financial sector that holds all the cards. - Robert Reich

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#298247 - 01/20/17 07:09 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: NW Ponderer]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 15014
Bonus question: how many clichés did I work into that post?

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#298250 - 01/20/17 07:26 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: NW Ponderer]
logtroll Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8439
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
I agree with your opinion of folks wanting stuff but not wanting to be responsible for paying.

My thinking for posting the article comes more from the book I am reading, "Surviving the Future" by David Fleming. He breaks down an economy into a basic "subsistence" model and a growth/consumption" model. A subsistence model, which does not mean primitive, but localized, requires a lot less infrastructure. Once enough growth enters in, and import/export activities between localized economies begin, additional infrastructure "needs" emerge, that were not there before. This grows a second economy that owes its existence to supporting the trade activities. His point is that much energy is needed to support the secondary economy, adding to the cost, and therefor the amount of work people must do to exist. In Fleming's exposition, he makes the case that this is a model on a downward and destructive trajectory, particularly for the social and environmental components of our existence, and eventually the money side, too.
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#298256 - 01/20/17 09:26 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 15014
I don't disagree with the premise or that exposition. I agree that local investment is far superior. My point was to point out the flaws in that particular article. This is not a simple problem subject to facile solutions. It's taken hundreds of years to get here.
_________________________
A well reasoned argument is like a diamond: impervious to corruption and crystal clear - and infinitely rarer.

Here, as elsewhere, people are outraged at what feels like a rigged game -- an economy that won't respond, a democracy that won't listen, and a financial sector that holds all the cards. - Robert Reich

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#298262 - 01/20/17 11:43 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: NW Ponderer]
logtroll Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8439
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
If it's not obvious, I'm trying to entice some others to read the David Fleming book, so we can discuss some things. In it he presents ideas for better preparing for surviving the crash that's coming, which is not really talking about solutions. sick
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"You can't fix a problem until you know what the problem is." Logtroll

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#298345 - 01/24/17 03:25 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
logtroll Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8439
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
The Joke

Quote:
We’ve not the resources to power suburbia, the family car, aviation, profligate agriculture and so on. Those things not only contribute to climate change, they will also lead the current monetary casino to an impossible fantasy land and so collapse and with that collapse – economic and social collapse. We could argue that hastening collapse will reduce its eventual magnitude, but I think we should be urgently building a community network which is disconnected from that casino – one formed enough (by our contribution) to emerge alive from beneath the rubble. Collapse will come. We must also divest our lives from the causes of climate change.
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#298355 - 01/25/17 07:57 AM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
pondering_it_all Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 6426
Loc: North San Diego County
Quote:
We’ve not the resources to power suburbia, the family car, aviation, profligate agriculture and so on.


I think we do. Solar and wind power are making great gains, we have a huge amount of natural gas to tide us over, and I think we will have practical hydrogen fusion within the next 20 years. Rising CO2 levels is just an energy-dependent technical problem, not a political or philosophical one: Once we have hydrogen fusion (neutral CO2 effect) we can use some of that energy to grab CO2 out of the atmosphere and convert it into synthetic coal to be buried. Ironic: Coal miner will be somebody who buries coal!

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#298359 - 01/25/17 02:13 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: pondering_it_all]
logtroll Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8439
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
Or we could start intentionally becoming more sane.
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"You can't fix a problem until you know what the problem is." Logtroll

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#298361 - 01/25/17 03:01 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 15014
The biggest problem facing the next generation will be water. Our aquifers are draining, our population is growing, and our climate is changing. The unintended consequences will pile up - streams dissipating, ocean salinity rising, and earthquakes increasing from crustal subsidence. Energy is just one issue to resolve.
_________________________
A well reasoned argument is like a diamond: impervious to corruption and crystal clear - and infinitely rarer.

Here, as elsewhere, people are outraged at what feels like a rigged game -- an economy that won't respond, a democracy that won't listen, and a financial sector that holds all the cards. - Robert Reich

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#298366 - 01/25/17 05:49 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: NW Ponderer]
rporter314 Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/18/03
Posts: 5917
Loc: Highlands, Tx
I posit (without benefit of any scientific or otherwise evidence) as populations increase, there will be a critical value at which point IQ's go down and the consequent rational thinking

if you think Mr Trump paints a bleak America, I think he is an optimist.
_________________________
ignorance is the enemy
without equality there is no liberty

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#298384 - 01/26/17 07:49 AM Re: A resilient economy [Re: NW Ponderer]
pondering_it_all Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 6426
Loc: North San Diego County
Given energy, all the fresh water you want is right off shore on three coasts. Right now San Diego has so much fresh water available they are dumping potable treated water into reservoirs for the fish to drink. The Carlsbad desal plant is making 50 million gallons a day.

And high cost? No, it actually costs 30 percent less to desalinate water than it costs to move it from the Sacramento Delta. The plant is a great success and was the test case so other plants are under construction now.

I know there must be some parts of the US far from the coasts that are not getting enough precipitation, but even so with enough cheap energy we can desalinate it at the coast and pump it inland.

This may not be very practical in the Gobi, but much more so in Australia and Africa. They could even start with solar power and do it, considering the price of solar panels.

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#298487 - 01/31/17 02:37 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
logtroll Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8439
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
I have been working assiduously on the biochar project lately, writing a business plan for entering full-scale manufacturing of community scaled equipment to co-produce heat and biochar. It is a frustrating experience having a system and product that has so many incredible benefits that people shut down when hearing the pitch, and become blankly unreceptive.

There are three major benefits to this project - "free" energy; more productive soils; and a reduction of greenhouse gases. Yet an impressively low number of people who hear about it respond with even a degree of enthusiasm or support.

As I am writing grant proposals, recruiting partners is a task that requires a good deal of careful salesmanship (I find it especially maddening that sleazy salesman can get people to buy all kinds of crap that has no real benefit to the buyer, but I have trouble getting folks to sign up for free things that will save them money...).

Later this week I plan to visit the Alamo Navajo Chapter to look at setting them up to make biochar and fuel pellets, then using the pellets in a heat/biochar boiler for heating one of their tribal government buildings. It will be a grant funded demonstration project - if I can get the funding. The angle that is getting me in to at least meet with them is a basic energy and cost calculation that goes like this:

They do a lot of heating with propane, which is about the most expensive fuel that we have around here, maybe electricity is a bit higher). Assuming a 3000 sqft building with an average heating load, it currently costs them $3,300 a year for propane. With the biochar system I have designed, they could make pellets and biochar at a community wood lot (out of slash and junk), then used the stored pellets as feedstock for a smaller heat/biochar unit installed at the building. The cost for the pellets (which actually result from making local jobs while disposing of a waste product) would only be $2,500 for the same Btus as the propane, but would produce $3,750 in biochar annually, for a "negative" energy cost of $1,250. The net differential between the propane and biochar systems would be $4,550 annually.

You would think that this concept would sell itself - I wish.
_________________________
"You can't fix a problem until you know what the problem is." Logtroll

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#298512 - 02/01/17 02:01 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
logtroll Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8439
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
End of the Oilocene

Quote:
Energy and Money

Fundamental to all energy and economic systems is money. Debt is being used to prop up a contracting oil energy system, and the scale of money created as debt over the last few decades to compensate is truly phenomenal; amounting to hundreds of trillions (excluding “extra-terrestrial” amounts of “financials”), rising exponentially faster. This amount of debt, can never ever be repaid. The on-going contraction of the oil/energy system will exacerbate this trend until the financial system collapses. There is nothing anyone can do about it no matter how much money is printed, NIRP, ZIRP you name it – all the indicators are flashing red. The panacea of indefinite money printing will soon hit the thermodynamic energy wall of reality.

Quote:
The coming failure of the global economic system will be a systemic failure. I say “systemic” because for the last 150 years up till now there has always been cheap and abundant oil to power recovery from previous busts. This era is over. Cheap and abundant oil will not be available for recovery from the next crunch, and the world will need to adopt a completely different economic and financial model.
_________________________
"You can't fix a problem until you know what the problem is." Logtroll

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#298523 - 02/02/17 05:40 AM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
pondering_it_all Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 6426
Loc: North San Diego County
Quote:
for the last 150 years up till now there has always been cheap and abundant oil to power recovery from previous busts


PV panels are so cheap now the payback period is just a couple of years. Even WalMarts are putting up massive PV arrays in their parking lots to offset their power use. WalMart does nothing because "it's good for the environment" or good PR. This is pure economics.

You can put up enough PV panels on your roof to run your house with no oil used to generate electricity. Add more panels and you have enough to charge your electric car. Add passive heat panels and you can heat your water and house. (Much cheaper than PV panels.) So it is easy to use absolutely zero oil for the energy you need.

Oil is very soon going to be obsolete anyway.

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#298531 - 02/02/17 11:24 AM Re: A resilient economy [Re: pondering_it_all]
logtroll Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8439
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
It's not that simple or easy:
The global industrial economy runs on oil

Quote:
Oil is the vital and crucial link in virtually every production chain in the global industrial world economy partly because it supplies over 96% of global transport energy – with no significant non-oil dependent alternative in sight.

Our industrial food production system uses over 10 calories of oil energy to plough, plant, fertilise, harvest, transport, refine, package, store/refrigerate, and deliver 1 calorie of food to the consumer; and imagine trying to build infrastructure; roads, schools, hospitals, industrial facilities, cities, railways, airports without oil, let alone maintain them.

Surprisingly perhaps, oil is also crucial to production of all other forms of energy including renewables. We cannot mine and distribute coal or even drill for gas and install pipelines and gas distribution networks without lots of oil; and you certainly cannot make a nuclear power station or build a hydroelectric dam without oil. But even solar panels, wind and biomass energy are also totally dependent on oil to extract and produce the raw materials; oil is directly or indirectly used in their manufacture (steel, glass, copper, fibreglass/GRP, concrete) and finally to distribute the product to the end user, and install and maintain it.

So it’s not surprising that excluding hydro and nuclear (which mostly require phenomenal amounts of oil to implement), renewables still only constitute about 3% of world energy (BP Energy Outlook 2016). This figure speaks entirely for itself. I am a renewable energy consultant and promoter, but I am also a realist; in practice the world runs on oil.
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"You can't fix a problem until you know what the problem is." Logtroll

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#298546 - 02/03/17 01:33 AM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
pondering_it_all Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 6426
Loc: North San Diego County
That's the situation currently, but oil is rapidly becoming non-competitive: It takes energy to make solar panels, and you can measure that energy in barrels of oil or KWHrs. If oil is just a tiny bit cheaper than KWHrs, most of the infrastructure will use oil. If electricity is cheaper, it will convert to using electricity.

Why do you think the price of oil is so low? It's because that is a few cents below the cost of KWHrs. As the cost of electricity drops, pretty soon it gets below the caloric content of oil and oil production for energy drops like a rock. Then we will only use oil for a lubricant. Until it becomes cheaper to synthesize oil instead of drill for it. This is not new: During WW II Germany lost a lot of access to oil so they used some simple organic chemistry to synthesize it.

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#298558 - 02/03/17 11:35 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: pondering_it_all]
Greger Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/24/06
Posts: 13660
Loc: Florida
I like the way you put that PIA.

For transportation, agriculture, and heavy construction oil will remain the primary source of energy for a long time. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. But for most of our other energy needs electricity has been king for a long time and there are lots of other ways to generate all the electricity we need.
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"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."— Oscar Wilde

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#298559 - 02/04/17 02:06 AM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
pondering_it_all Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 6426
Loc: North San Diego County
There is absolutely nothing about petroleum that is unavailable via other methods and processes. Back in the 1920's Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis in Germany was used to make a wide variety of higher hydrocarbons from carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Every useful component in oil can be synthesized in bulk, given the energy. It's not even especially inefficient: All of the reactions of consuming petroleum product can be run backwards. So oil just represents a lot of energy that you can pump out of the ground more or less for free. Or at least we think of it as free.

But all the "easy oil" is gone now. No more gushers. You have to spend money to drill deep wells in horrible places, and then spend more money to pump it out. Then you have to spend a lot of money to refine it, transport it, sell it, etc. And maybe some aholes want to highjack your tanker or tap into your pipeline in the middle of some god-awful country so you need some military to protect it. It all adds up.

But as soon as you have hydrogen fusion and want liquid fuel for your trains or trucks, just make ethanol from CO2. So much easier than supporting the world-wide oil infrastructure. And it's carbon-neutral. Or you can make anything, like kerosene, gas, diesel, jet fuel, etc.

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#298561 - 02/04/17 01:56 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
NW Ponderer Offline
Moderator
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/11
Posts: 15014
A primary roadblock to energy conversion is investment. It takes money (financing) to build the infrastructure needed to extract the energy from other sources, and there is a distinct bias in the petro-financial world toward oil - because it is "known." Everyone else has to compete against oil for funding. The tilt is incredible largely because the return horizon for investors is so short. Financiers want to make money NOW, not over decades.

If the economy were turned toward long-term, steady returns rather than make-a-quick-buck schemes, the boom-bust cycle would be reduced (or even eliminated). But bonds are not nearly as "sexy" as stocks, and no one has the patience for infrastructure. Now that the Donald and his financier cronies are in charge, it is a guarantee that non-petroleum infrastructure spending will be eliminated. Trump's attention horizon is 144 characters.
_________________________
A well reasoned argument is like a diamond: impervious to corruption and crystal clear - and infinitely rarer.

Here, as elsewhere, people are outraged at what feels like a rigged game -- an economy that won't respond, a democracy that won't listen, and a financial sector that holds all the cards. - Robert Reich

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#298562 - 02/04/17 03:26 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: NW Ponderer]
logtroll Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 8439
Loc: New Mexico (not old Mexico)
Originally Posted By: NW Ponderer
A primary roadblock to energy conversion is investment. ... Financiers want to make money NOW, not over decades.

And the longer it is delayed, the less likely a survivable transition will occur.

_________________________
"You can't fix a problem until you know what the problem is." Logtroll

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#298567 - 02/05/17 03:05 AM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
pondering_it_all Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 6426
Loc: North San Diego County
Quote:
Financiers want to make money NOW, not over decades.


WalMart is putting up huge PV arrays in their parking lots because the payback period is so short. Just a couple of years. They don't do anything unless it makes financial sense.

Everybody and their dog is offering people lease deals for PV installations that cost no more per month than their current electric bill, with zero front or back end payments.

Both of these are strong evidence we have crossed a threshold and PV power is cheaper than gas or oil-based electricity.

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#298568 - 02/05/17 03:52 AM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
Jeffery J. Haas Offline


Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 12413
Loc: Whittier, California
Originally Posted By: logtroll
Originally Posted By: NW Ponderer
A primary roadblock to energy conversion is investment. ... Financiers want to make money NOW, not over decades.

And the longer it is delayed, the less likely a survivable transition will occur.



President Trump is the perfect Easter Island statue, isn't he?
_________________________
"Liberty is so important to "libertarians" that they think actually getting to exercise liberty should be a privilege that is overwhelmingly rationed in favor of the rich.
Recognizing this ought to tell us what we are dealing with."
---Piers Stephens

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#298577 - 02/05/17 11:44 PM Re: A resilient economy [Re: logtroll]
matthew Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/24/16
Posts: 227
'
The more renewable energy, the less need for the US petro-dollar, and consequently the less the USA will be able to hold the rest of the world hostage to support the vast American deficits.

It is not only the oil interests who are terrified of the environmental revolution --- so is the hypertrophied Military-Industrial Conspiracy! They will no longer have the money and resources to go charging all over the world destroying countries and murdering innocent people.

It reminds me of the end of the Athenian Empire, when their so-called "allies" finally had enough of being exploited and walked away from the Empire --- even allying with the Spartans (Russians?) in order to shake off their Athenian masters.
.
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