Comments on: Hedgies vs Obama A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: try this Fri, 17 Oct 2014 07:38:53 +0000 I will immediately snatch your rss as I can not find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please permit me recognise in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

By: FifthDecade Wed, 14 Dec 2011 15:30:10 +0000 I think this argument is basically about the value of different groups of people to the Nation as a whole. As a group, do the millions of people in the middle classes provide more economic value through their work and spending than that provided by the managers of the companies they work for and buy from?

At the rarified upper end, the 1%, things have become so dislocated from what happens lower down that I don’t think the same principles can necessarily be applied. In economic terms, yes, the 1% do sometimes create work – but in which country? More often the jobs would be created in China, not the US. In effect, their tax breaks subsidise the Chinese economy. Their tax breaks also subsidise the politicians who are complicit in moving the jobs to China by supporting all that the 1% want, and by blocking anything of benefit to the 99%.

Is this good for the US economy? On that I am not so sure, there must be some kind of small benefit from selling the products to US consumers, but since most consumers are over-indebted and use credit to pay for consumption, is the benefit real? At some point this borrowing money from future earnings that may not actually be there will reach a crossover point where it will be impossible to repay the credit.

To use an ecological analogy, successful parasites do not kill their host, just weaken it and make it more vulnerable to external threats (competitors, predators, disease). Far better for the 1% to act as a symbiont and gain self-benefit through allowing the 99% to benefit more. After all, who benefits from the activities of the 99% more than the 1%?

By: mattmc Wed, 14 Dec 2011 06:35:11 +0000 “But it’s hard for a gazillionaire to come out and say that he wants more of everybody else’s money”

It’s his money. He can say that he doesn’t everyone taking his money. It’s not zero sum or a fixed end point. You can make something he wants and he’ll pay you for it.

“What we see here is the very strong correlation between tax cuts for the rich (on the x-axis) and increased wealth for the rich (on the y-axis). ”

No, that’s not what we see. What we see is a country that is losing a lot of jobs. The income is measured pre-tax, it’s not some obvious relationship. Not too mention- the chart is so relativistic, it doesn’t actually show much of anything.

By: TFF Wed, 14 Dec 2011 02:11:58 +0000 I’m pretty sure that my frugal Uncle Buck would save 100% of the value of his modest house long before the typical American would manage to accumulate a 20% downpayment on theirs.

Moreover, if it takes you “20 or 30 years” to accumulate enough savings to buy your home, then what the heck do you plan to retire on?!? You can get a nice house in most burbs for a simple $300k (and Uncle Buck would be looking for something smaller/simpler than that). Even without a mortgage, it will be tough to retire without at least twice that in savings or the equivalent value in the form of a pension or Social Security.

Ten years of savings to own your home.
Twenty years of savings to fund your retirement.
Anything beyond that is for fun.

And while I realize that macroeconomics gets messy, why wouldn’t it work to have an economy in which everybody works hard and consumes only modest material wealth? Are you afraid that we will run out of services that we can provide for each other?

By: JayFT Tue, 13 Dec 2011 22:17:51 +0000 Our nation has a much longer life span then any individual person. The United States of America will not retire with diminished income nor will it go bankrupted from bowering on future earnings. We have had big deficits, just like this after World War II and big surpluses as recently as 1999 during the Clinton Administration. The deficit we now have measures about 9.9% of our total GDP. (compare that to a deficit of 25% of the GDP during the post depression “New Deal”.
(Budget office February 2011 1/Summary.shtml ) … these are the facts … America is not broke!! ….

All of us average Americans have some debt that we pay on: Your house, your car and perhaps a refrigerator and some furniture. Now if your frugal Uncle Buck was of the mind to never buy anything he could not outright pay for, then it would take him 20 to 30 years of living in a trailer until he could afford to by a house. Uncle Buck would have to ride a bike to work for 5 years before he could buy a car and he’d be eating “K-Rations” from a can and sleeping on the floor. Now that’s if he had a good paying job within bike riding distance. If you were Uncle Buck your family would suffer right along with you and your quality of life would resemble that of a poor 3rd world country.

The republican narrative says PAY DOWN THE DEPT !!! That’s like frugal Uncle Buck saying; “don’t borrow to invest in our crumbling highways, bridges, sewers, and depleting infrastructure”. “ Its to expansive!!” Don’t educate our children and don’t improve the health care system. Like Uncle Buck, “says; “don’t spend any more money ..even if the heater is out and the roof is leaking.”

This is not the time to be holding back on an economic stimulus with so many people suffering. Interests rates are very low, labor is available and eager and our “house” is in serious need of repair.

If Roosevelt was an Uncle Buck we would have never become the great nation we are today.. and if Republicans have their way you can be sure we will be on course to further lowering the standard of living for 99% of US citizens while we struggle to survive without regulations to protect the air we breath and the water we drink. We would find ourselves kneeling for mercy at the feet of the rich and powerful banks ………………….or we might be incline to revolt.

On the other hand we cannot sustain perpetual deficit spending. Long-term fiscal reform is a wise and important endeavor. Tax reform, improving government efficiency, making some changes in our military deployment and any effort to stabilize the monetary structure;… these are important conservative pursuits.

Its no wonder that most of us, no matter the political party we ascribe to, are truly moderate independents and perhaps more willing to compromise then some in congress.


By: TFF Tue, 13 Dec 2011 19:21:13 +0000 I do try not to hijack threads until they are a couple days stale. :)

Ford Focus EV = $40k.
Ford Focus IC = $20k (or less).

Not yet price-competitive, at least not without the federal tax credit.

By: KenG_CA Mon, 12 Dec 2011 23:27:05 +0000 I think you’ll be able to get something bigger than a subcompact with 120 mi range.

I love not driving to the gas station, or getting oil changes (ok, there are still some fluids in the car, but nothing like a conventional car), or dealing with the complexity of an IC engine (it’s just an electric motor, with a lot less things to go wrong). The whole thing is so much simpler, people will jump on them when they are feasible. It’s not quite like going from a horse to a car, but it’s still a big step and much more convenient.

I looked at what the topic of the post was, and our last several comments – we digressed as usual, but the original topic of the post is not a solvable problem.

Thanks for the chat.

By: TFF Mon, 12 Dec 2011 22:18:01 +0000 Great! I do look forward to my sub-compact EV with a 120 mile range. Must surely be simpler than keeping an internal combustion engine running smoothly.

Interesting as always, KenG.

By: KenG_CA Mon, 12 Dec 2011 21:42:59 +0000 Yes, solar and wind compete with gas (and coal), but if we shift cars to run on electricity, we will need new sources of it.

Biodiesel is definitely ready for industrial scale production. I looked into actually building a biodiesel refinery (on a small scale, maybe 1M gal/yr)) several years ago, and only didn’t do it because I couldn’t find people with the skills to design and construct one. What’s not proven on a large scale is the algae-based diesel, that still has to be more developed, but things like jatropha, which can be grown with very little water and poor soil, can be done now.

Sugar-based ethanol is ready for prime time, as Brazil has been doing it for years, and it might even come with the very beneficial side effect of driving up the price of sugar and corn syrup.

I have a realistic range of 165 miles on my electric car, and that is with 2008 technology. It’s also a performance car, so with tweaks to the design and driving habits, it could probably reach 200+ miles. I was part of BMW’s mini-E field trial a couple years ago, and I saw 90 mile range with it, and that car was not designed from the ground up to run on electricity – with mods to the design, it should easily get > 120 miles. In 2015, if not sooner, I think 300 miles will not be that unusual on a mid-priced car. If you can wait until late next year, I will be shocked if you can’t buy an EV with 120 range.

Yes, batteries deteriorate with age, but the chemicals in them can still be re-used. There is a lot of research being done to improve that, and there are ways to maximize the life of the battery. All solvable problems.

I’m with you on hybrid. It’s been a great driver for technology development, though. However, delivery trucks should be diesel electric hybrids, where there is a motor that drives the vehicle, and a diesel powered generator. This would be so much more efficient than a pure diesel truck that stops and starts and spends lots of time in traffic.

If you stick around another 40 years, you’re going to see a lot more change than electric cars. The amount of cumulative knowledge grows faster with each year, so just compare where we were 40 years ago with today, and double that amount of change.

By: TFF Mon, 12 Dec 2011 20:59:05 +0000 Interesting points, as always, KenG.

Solar and wind farms are a great idea — but they really compete with natural gas for the production of electricity, not oil. Oil is primarily a transportation fuel.

“There are feedstocks for biodiesel that can be grown on land that is not suitable for food production. For ethanol, there is much work being done on enzymes that will allow it to use waste products.”

Both excellent ideas, but last I heard neither was quite ready for industrial-scale production. (Industrial engineers scaling up systems that have thus far only been proven in the laboratory. Hopefully ready soon?)

“If the range of electric cars can be increased to 300 miles on a charge…”

…then we will have cracked that problem. From what I’ve heard, we’re facing a maximum range presently around 100 miles, with a more realistic estimate closer to 80. And battery performance deteriorates with age. We’ll be replacing our car next year. Give me a solid 120 miles and our next vehicle will be plug-in electric.

Hybrid is a poor compromise — lugging around two power trains is inefficient. And for smaller vehicles, the improvement in mileage isn’t enough to justify the cost.

I’m not certain my students won’t kill me by the end of the week, but if I survive that long then I might be good for another 40 years. Would be nice to see the transition that you promise.