A Lump of Coal

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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424 Responses

  1. DRS says:

    I have to admit I have almost no idea what’s motivating him.

    Oh, come on! You’ve got to be kidding, right? He’s being a sore loser and taking it out on the only people he can take it out on with impunity – his employees. To the extent that this jerk has any motivating principles at all, they’re important only to the extent that they validate his own personal rightness in everything he does. Only a blasphemer would call that revolting screed a “prayer”. I doubt he could spell Ayn Rand and anyway a political philosophy that keeps citing a work of fiction as a source is probably not one that he could relate too.

    He’s a big fish in a small (mining-based town) pond and he’s not used to not getting his way because the worship of business is a strong undercurrent in American society. He calling down some major bad karma on himself. I would strong advise his family members not to stand beside him in the future when a major thunderstorm is going on. They might get fried too.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to DRS says:

      But how does that action help him? That’s what I don’t get, unless he really is just the attention-seeking type.

      Then again, that’s also a thing I don’t claim to understand.Report

      • DRS in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Jason – he’s being a sadistic asshole. He’s talking to the people in front of him – not to you, he could care less about you and your personal philosophy – and he’s flipping them the bird with a vengeance. He’s punishing them for voting for Obama – of course, most of them did. They probably would be 100% in favour of anything he’s against.

        How does it help him? It shows his employees who the big dog is in their lives. Where are unemployed miners going to find jobs? Wait for a second mining company to set up shop down the street? Is Microsoft opening a chip factory with preferences for underground workers? He knows he’s got these guys screwed and he’s going to enjoy rubbing it in.

        Come on, you can’t seriously be this naive?Report

      • art in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        I pray to MY GOD that you [ as God ] get a business and are able to run it for a little while. All of America, there are people who KNOW all there is know about businesses. And their come along [ the know it all’s], who tell you how selfish you are and that everything you do and say is not the truth. Thank you God Jason for all your insight and wisdom.Report

      • cfpete in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        He is probably just trying to get attention while he can.
        There are new regs coming out post election: Obama Administration Sits on Key Regulations
        and combined with cheap nat gas you are going to see layoffs in the coal industry.

        No one will notice if the layoffs happen in six months, but right now he can get some national press attention.Report

      • zic in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        I’d guess it’s likely he already planned to lay those people off, perhaps a combination of not being willing to meet the regulatory requirements for safe working conditions and the competition from natural gas as a fuel source spring to mind as likely candidates for the business decision.

        Some of those same miners were recently forced to take a day without pay to stand as a backdrop to Romney. So I don’t think he views them as individuals with rights so much as part of the infrastructure to run his business, like so many drills and pumps and people.

        I’m not versed, but this leaves boggled: Within this world, we are ends in ourselves; we are of right neither slaves nor slavemasters, and the correct approach to life is to employ reason in the pursuit of a properly understood self-interest.[1]

        With your other descriptions of objectivist, I’m comfortable. But properly understood self-interest seem narrow. I frequently opt for things not in my self-interest, but for the interest of others. I just voted to increase my taxes; at least in a good year. And Republicans (the 47% Republicans) often vote against their economic self-interest, though they may have other interests such as religion they’re voting to support.

        I guess there’s an element of altruism and responsibility missing, but again, I profess ignorance on the philosophical discussions. I welcome knowledge, however. Please feel free to inform.Report

        • Will H. in reply to zic says:

          The statement at issue reminded me very much of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, a noted stoic.Report

          • NickT in reply to Will H. says:

            Marcus Aurelius never said anything so pathetically dishonest and self-indulgent.Report

            • Will H. in reply to NickT says:

              I think you’re reading into the statement what you already know about Rand.

              Within this world, we are ends in ourselves; we are of right neither slaves nor slavemasters, and the correct approach to life is to employ reason in the pursuit of a properly understood self-interest.


              Reverence the faculty which produces opinion. On this faculty it entirely depends whether there shall exist in thy ruling part any opinion inconsistent with nature and the constitution of the rational animal.

              In fact, Marcus goes on quite a bit about man as a rational animal.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        How about the Papa John’s Pizza CEO? He is going around very cynically claiming that he will need to raise pizza prices by a pittance (50 cents or so) or lower employee hours at some stores as to comply with Obamacare or make his employees ineligible for Obamacare.

        Can we call this guy a major asshole? He seems to think his customers are so craven (and/or poor) that they will rebel at a minor increase in prices or that he is so against providing some healthcare that he is willing to further drive his employees into poverty by reducing their hours.

        Guys like him are why we need Single Payer and not Obama’s mandates. Obamacare is better than nothing but still allows jerks to play politics.Report

        • FridayNext in reply to NewDealer says:

          Jon Stewart had an excellent analysis of this guy awhile back.

          Bottom line: Increase the price of pizza to help keep the delivery guy from hacking a lung into our food OUTRAGEOUS! But if the price of pizza goes up because we are burning the planet into a lifeless husk, eh whaddya gonna do?


        • “Guys like him are why we need Single Payer and not Obama’s mandates. Obamacare is better than nothing but still allows jerks to play politics.”

          I share your assessment of this guy, although your comment is the first I’ve heard about him. But I don’t think Single Payer will keep jerks like him from paying politics in that way. A single payer system will raise taxes somewhere along the line, and the more cynical of business owners will hide behind those tax increases when they have to make the difficult decisions to lower hours or raise prices. Why not blame the convenient target. Now it’s the Obamacare employer mandates. In your (and as it happens, my) ideal policy, it would be the single payer system.Report

        • Brandon Berg in reply to NewDealer says:

          Seriously, what a jerk. You so generously offer his company’s money to provide health insurance for his employees, and that sleazebag has the audacity to try to pass the costs on to his customers and tell them the reason why. Who the hell does he think he is?Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            Just like any other excise tax imposed by the federal, the cost is shifted to consumers. Obamacare doesn’t take any profit from him (well, probably a little). Instead, it shifts the “tax burden” to all True Blue American pizza lovers. Unless of course those Pizza Lovers have read Atlas Shrugs and forego their love of cheesy goodness and Go Galt on buying them.Report

            • Roger in reply to Stillwater says:

              I fail to see why the guy telling the truth at Papa Johns is the asshole or jerk?

              If the effects of Obamacare are to increase prices by eleven cents per pizza all else equal, then that is a totally reasonable fact to pass on to investors. You can also pass on the fact that logical ways to mitigate this cost increase are to reduce the share of full time workers, or to subcontract out to part timers, or perhaps to automate more of the pizza process. Any CEO not understanding this would be unqualified for the job.

              Why does this make him an asshole? Is it because he is saying something the left wishes he wouldn’t say? Something they wish was swept under the rug? Namely, that Obamacare is likely to have a negative effect on the economy and on hiring in the middle of a period where the left pretended to care about jobs?

              As an expert in insurance design, Obamacare is a terrible solution. It is a cure which is worse than the disease. In technical terms, it is nucking futts. The fact that it is also bad for prospective workers must really piss you guys off. Oh well, perhaps the pundits on Comedy Central can help you prop up your delusions.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Roger says:

                Oh he’s not nuts. But investor-concerns are only one issue – or ought to be only one issue – in determining whether Obamacare is justified. Which is to say, if it’s decisive for someone then that person prioritizes profits above all else. And that’s fine. (Good to be honest about these things.) But it requires a lot of argument to establish that a system which prioritizes profits above all else will lead to the best outcomes. For reasons even a libertarian can appreciate.Report

              • Roger in reply to Stillwater says:


                Agreed. But New Dealer and Friday seem to think bringing up a fact which counts against a policy they support makes him an asshole. I think it makes them illogical.

                The problem with Obamacare is not that it will raise the price of pizza by 11 cents. It is that it further destroys health care, while damaging job creation and raising prices. In other words, the left seems to be assuming that this is a TRADEOFF between better health care and economic efficiency. I argue it is a net harm to both the economy and to health care.Report

              • Jeffery Bahr in reply to Roger says:

                ” It is that it further destroys health care, while damaging job creation and raising prices.”

                I’ve spent the last 4 or 5 months listening to conservatives say stuff like this. Without explanation. Usually, while speaking to their own. Would you like to explain exactly how Obamacare does all these things? I have a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a PhD in business and I don’t know what anyone thinks these assertions are true.

                BTW, 50% of all pizza sales are by independents. I don’t know what the composition of franchisees of the rest are, but can we assume that many only own one or two stores? Thus, one would think that between the independents and small franchisees, most firms employ fewer than 50 employees and are exempt from Obamacare’s dictates.Report

              • Roger in reply to Jeffery Bahr says:

                Hi Jeff,

                I am someone who designed insurance products for a living in property and casualty markets.

                I see the problems in the health care/insurance market as A) a disconnect between the person paying and the one receiving the benefit. This is absolutely guaranteed to screw up costs. B) The combination of a market perverted with a transfer program. By combining them we are perverting both. C) excessive use of top down master planning for something that should be deregulated and decentralized. And D) rent seeking and barriers to entrance and competition

                I see Obamacare as a step backward on all four.

                The reason it hurts employment was outlined above. It increases the costs of employment, especially for less skilled or lower paid workers and it incentivizes replacing full time workers with part timers, outsourcing and technology.

                Our health insurance market is totally messed up in America. Politicians should address it. They should not address it by making things worse.Report

              • NewDealer in reply to Jeffery Bahr says:

                Because non of the chains make good Pizza.Report

              • Roger in reply to Jeffery Bahr says:


                I guess we can wait another 4 or 5 months for your reply?Report

              • Jeffery Bahr in reply to Jeffery Bahr says:

                Sorry, Roger. Actually, I don’t know how to reply to your reply, I must be missing a reply button somewhere.

                Anyway. Your response *seems* like a lot of the dialogue here, assertions of principal and beliefs, characterized in the language of economics (e.g., rent-seeking). You may well be right, but it find the theoretical strain here at The League irritating . . . and I am an ex-professor with a lot of time spent engaging in theorizing.

                Anyway. I don’t see how — in the real world — Obamacare could possibly screw thing up worse than what we’ve seen in the past decade or two: rapidly rising costs, increasing disparity between the health coverage of the haves and have-nots, 3 and 4-tier pricing (Medicaid, Medicare, Insurance Company and ER-uncovered rates), et cetera.

                Again, I don’t see (can you give me some specifics) how each of the 4 items are worsened? Also, my point about the lack of effect of Obamacare for small business under 50 employees? BTW, I have one such company, a software company, so my interest is more than academic.

                Thanks and regards,

              • Roger in reply to Jeffery Bahr says:

                Hi Jeff,

                The attached link explains much of what is wrong with health care and health insurance in the US.


                In prior discussions on the league, we have explored superior systems in places such as Singapore.


                I believe Obamacare works against the grain on all four concepts. It further separates the person who pays from the person receiving the service. It discourages competition and deregulation and instead adds tens of thousands of pages of new regulations, bureaus, mandatory coverages and so forth. It further extends the tendency of combining a redistribution system with a market system, thus further gaming the ability of the market system to work efficiently.

                In brief, I think these problems are perverting the market, which is leading to spiraling costs. These are likely to affect you and me with our personal insurance costs, and you with any costs for your employees. It will also affect any future incentives to grow beyond 50 employees.Report

              • NewDealer in reply to Roger says:

                As I said to Brandon, I don’t care that he is raising prices on pizza. A lot of restaurants in San Francisco charge a small surcharge (besides the normal sales tax) because they are required to provide health insurance for their employees. I don’t mind paying this. It often comes out to about 50 cents to a dollar or so extra. This is a pittance.

                I think the Papa John’s guy is a jerk because he was trying to turn people against Obamacare by suggesting pizza prices would go up a pittance. He thought that people would hate the idea of paying just a small bit more for pizza that they would turn against the legislation. That is what pissed me off. He is being an absolute jerk.

                Also cutting hours in order to be outside the range covered is also jerky. The dude lives in a huge mansion in Kentucky, Obamacare is not going to reduce him to a one bedroom apartment.Report

              • Roger in reply to NewDealer says:

                You really think his argument was that paying 11 cents more for his cardboard pizza was a strike against comprehensive health care reform?

                I think it is more generous to define his argument as providing a real world example that Obamacare is going to increase prices and hurt Employment opportunities for lower skilled workers.

                The question then becomes, are the benefits worth it? If you believe Obamacare improves the health insurance maket, then this may be a reasonable trade off. If you are convinced it actually made health care worse, then it is a big lose lose. Screwed up health care and worse employment prospects.Report

            • Brandon Berg in reply to Stillwater says:

              I think that the administration would very much like for us to believe that it comes entirely out of corporate profits. That’s why they’re doing it this way. If it’s ostensibly being paid for by employers, then it looks to a lot of voters like a free lunch. Business owners are right to point out that they won’t be shouldering the cost themselves.Report

          • NewDealer in reply to Brandon Berg says:

            The issue is not the increase on the price of his pizza.

            The issue is that he was very cynically trying to turn people against Obama care by saying that pizza prices would go up by a pittance. 50 cents really is a pittance. He thought that this would make people revolt against Obamacare.

            The jerk part is reducing hours so to avoid giving employees healthcare.Report

            • Brandon Berg in reply to NewDealer says:

              Levying a heavy tax on employing full-time, low-skill workers leads to less full-time employment of low-skill workers. Story at eleven.

              Seriously, what did you think would happen?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        I think he’s trying to negotiate however he knows how. He’s communicating to his workers, he’s communicating to anyone who reads his “prayer”. “This is why I did what I did, there are hints as to what could get me to change my mind”.

        He’s more or less saying that he’s doing what he’s doing because it’s out of his control. He’s merely reacting, not acting.

        The “prayer” part communicates to everybody else that he’s a member of the important “Christian” group.

        So, in a nutshell, “I’m going to do some bad things, they’re outside of my control, I’m still one of you.”Report

      • @Jason “But how does that action help him? ”

        I don’t know that it does in a big picture way, but I think it still might come with some measure of personal satisfaction – a pretty human thing, after all.

        One of the things I have been reading a lot since the election is the belief by many that UN forces will be forcibly collecting our guns fairly soon – like, January. I get the feeling they have a lot strong emotions as well as a fair amount of personal identity invested in being proven right about this.

        I expect when this doensn’t happen that many of these people will, on some very deep level, be very disappointed to be proven wrong.Report

        • mark boggs in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Or/And…they will move on to the next dreadful thing that is about to happen as a result of the election.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          I expect when this doensn’t happen that many of these people will, on some very deep level, be very disappointed to be proven wrong.

          Irrational, fear-based beliefs like that can’t be proven wrong. They can only be proven right.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

            Every time I hear these fearmongers, I remember all the racist Chicken Littles of the 1950s and 60s. And 70s, I suppose.

            And I smile, a savage, secret grin, remembering the fate of Trent Lott.Report

        • zic in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Tod, One of the things I have been reading a lot since the election is the belief by many that UN forces will be forcibly collecting our guns fairly soon – like, January. I get the feeling they have a lot strong emotions as well as a fair amount of personal identity invested in being proven right about this.

          And there’s always a spike in gun sales; I’m sure there’s one going on now, it being hunting season in many parts of the land. That’s seriously effective unpaid marketing — political propaganda to promote sales ramped up to 11. D- is the saddest key of all.Report

        • NewDealer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Bike lanes are also a UN plot, don’t cha know?Report

      • Barry in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        Jason: “But how does that action help him? That’s what I don’t get, unless he really is just the attention-seeking type.”

        Think about how goooooooooooooooooood it must have felt to stand there and say ‘f*ck you – you’re fired’ after losing the election.

        You’re trying to come up with a philosophical justification for a sociopath’s behavior.Report

  2. NewDealer says:

    I somewhat agree with DRS that the timing is awfully suspicious and paints the guy being an asshole and sore loser. The timing is also helped because he is part of a trend of business people doing such. I can’t find the list now for somereason.

    The right-wing meltdown over Obama’s reelection is a bit fascinating to watch. A lot of liberals did threaten “to move to Canada” if Bush one in 2004 but this seems closer to what is unjustly described as the Pauline Kael problem. A lot of Romney supporters just seem to not understand or know anyone who could vote for Obama. They drunk their own kool-aid on him being a radical, Socialist, Kenyan anti-Colonialist, fraud, and not very intelligent person. How did they do this? Why wasn’t enough for them to accept you don’t get into Harvard Law or become editor of the Harvard Law Review by being a slouch? Psychologists could have a field day exploring this. I wonder what Jonathan Haidt will say.

    That being said, 2012 is probably much more of a social media election than other and lots of people are letting their unrestrained Ids loose. The sad version of this are the high school students with shockingly racist tweets:


    I liked your paragraph on objectivism but that it also described exactly why I am against Randianism. These business CEOs in the thrall of Rand are arrogant and seem to see themselves as Masters of the Universe. You are right that it is a combination of Rand and Calvin that creates the beast.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to NewDealer says:

      Oh, it’s pretty easy. They think it was affirmative action. That’s how he got into Harvard, that’s how he did everything in life. He didn’t work for it, didn’t earn it, can’t really do the job. It was given to him, for “PC reasons”. Affirmative action hires.

      I see quite a few conservatives state outright (and many more imply quite heavily) that Obama only “won” in 2008 because a lot of people voted for him so they could prove how totally not racist they were (even Republicans!) and thus he was actually hired as President via affirmative action.

      McCain was the better candidate, but we really needed a more diverse set of Presidents, so the American public went with the AA hire.

      Everything flows from there — the deep belief that Obama is a horrible speaker who has to be fed from a teleprompter being my favorite. He’s not as good as Clinton (that’s a once in a lifetime talent there) at speaking off the cuff, but he’s always been an excellent writer and speaker, and speaks off the cuff quite well.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Morat20 says:

        I see quite a few conservatives state outright (and many more imply quite heavily) that Obama only “won” in 2008 because a lot of people voted for him so they could prove how totally not racist they were

        And that since that had work off, he was toast in 2012.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Well, no, 2012 will just cement it. Everyone knows you can’t fire the AA hire even if he sucks at his job.

          The PC police will get you!

          You know, what’s strange? The only people I hear talk about PC are conservatives. And the way they talk about it…honestly reminds me of some of the older folks (close to retirement age) talk about sexual harassment issues. They simply don’t get it. At all.

          Literally. They can’t seem to mentally “get” harassment. So they end up believing bizarre scenarios or acting like getting in trouble for hitting on (and by “hitting on” I mean “You know you’ve got a really great pair of tits, honey.”) is the result of some ridiculously over sensitive bitch (yes, they’ll use that word) who doesn’t understand the real world.

          Same guys, in fact, generally believe the weirdest things about AA.Report

          • NewDealer in reply to Morat20 says:

            As I have said in other Internet communities, I don’t get the conservative complaints or boasts about being “anti-PC”. What conservatives decry as being politically correct, I just consider treating people with dignity and decency.

            Yes, conservatives are people who just don’t get it often. The world has changed and they don’t want to deal.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Morat20 says:

            PC is the water you swim in.

            One Fish: The water’s cold today.

            The Other Fish: What water?Report

            • Barry in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              This would be known as the ‘Fox News’ effect?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Barry says:

                Whatever, brother. Unlike some here on the left, I won’t deny it. That would be silly: Fox isn’t the story, it’s the other half of the story.


                The real question, however, is to write those two out of the equation and examine the remainder, the presumably neutral “mainstream.”

                Further–my usual bleat–the question is really the negative stuff the left-leaning media choose to minimize or ignore altogether, in Obama’s case bad economic news, Fast & Furious, Libya both before and after the Ambassador’s murder, foreign/illegal campaign contributions [both in 2008 and 2012], the New Black Panthers at the polling place [both in 2008 & 2012], the true looming cost of Obamacare, the other 20 green energy failures in addition to Solyndra, etc.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Morat20 says:

            “The only people I hear talk about PC are conservatives. ”

            Except for, y’know, the people who seriously believe that the title of this website creates an unwelcoming environment for nonmales.Report

  3. BlaiseP says:

    Nobody will mock you for what you might believe about Ayn Rand. I’ll stick to mocking Ayn Rand. You might “get” Objectivism, all those fine ideals about the Individual and the Virtues of Selfishness. You clearly don’t “get” Christianity, or at least seem somewhat less interested in portraying Christianity in more nuanced terms.

    Christianity, too, says we were not created to be slavemaster or slave, quite explicitly in Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Though some have preached a gospel of Pie in the Sky When You Die, this runs somewhat contrary to what Jesus himself said:

    Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?

    The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

    Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.

    They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?

    He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

    The cobbler is cordially invited to stick to his last. The very idea that you’ll attempt to tell us what’s conformal or contrary to the precepts of Christianity isn’t amusing any more. It’s contemptible.

    Time took its toll on Ayn Rand, who ended up on the public dole. Ayn Rand never employed anyone. She built no fine skyscrapers, no railroads. She lived in the kingdom of the mind, in her own Private Idaho. Vain, imperious and dogmatic, she cultivated a little cult of personality around her. She did, however, find one important disciple in Alan Greenspan, the engineer of the greatest financial disaster this country has ever known, in dollar terms.

    But as with Jesus Christ, Ayn Rand’s followers see in her what they wish to see. Those of us who would see beyond the nimbus of a belief structure and find the original vision are not put off by a few ranters in their camp. I have looked at Ayn Rand’s Objectivism and rejected it as incoherent. You may look at Christianity and find it equally so. But I will take exception to your characterisation of Christianity. You might do well to couch your own beliefs in the context of your own ignorance. Your signal error is to believe all Christians are Gnostics, for thus you have described us. If we believe in eternal reward, we shall be rewarded for what we do for our fellow human beings in the present.

    Every -ism becomes an epistemic trap for the -ists, given time, for time produces the crust of brittle dogma. Many evil things are done in the name of -isms, things we dare not do under our own flag.Report

    • zic in reply to BlaiseP says:

      I’ve read this a half-dozen times, and like it better with each rendition.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Blaise, I know full well how contemptible you find me. I only marvel at how much energy you put into it.

      Faced with an entirely unobjectionable thesis offered on my part — that Ayn Rand’s philosophy is incompatible with Christianity — you seem nonetheless bound to disagree with me. Vehemently. It’s just what you do.

      And so you accuse me of gnosticism. Oddly, I’ve already had at least one other Christian express appreciation for the fair treatment I had given his faith. The gnostic heresy was always the most nebulous, the hardest to pin down (except, perhaps, for monophysitism. I always have to look that one up to get it right).Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        That’s rich. You come around again to tell us about what Christians believe about this world and eternal reward and I’ll put twice as much effort into that response.

        As for your thesis, All of this is quite contrary to Christianity. Christians believe that they are created for a higher purpose, the glory of God, and that the material world is a sort of testing ground. The material world is most emphatically not all that we get, and, for a Christian, material goods are in fact to be mistrusted., that is not what Jesus Christ taught.

        And I do not accuse you of Gnosticism. Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit. The Gnostics believe what you’ve said and I’ve quoted above. More theological studies for you ere you opine on Christian charity and eschatology. As for what others might say about your opinions of Christianity, I will stick to my own opinion of this essay: a tendentious and ill-considered mess.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

          “You come around again to tell us about what Christians believe about this world ”

          As opposed to a bilious old gasbag who confuses time-in-grade for wisdom, who thinks that posters in a comment section are the same thing as an audience, who sees no trouble in lecturing us about what Libertarians Actually Believe, and telling anyone who disagrees that they’re either lying or stupid?Report

        • DRS in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Aren’t you hitting gnosticism kind of hard? It’s more of a catch-all term, not a separate distinct category with an agreed-upon dogma and doctrines. More of an attitude, if you know what I mean. Gnostics explore things; Randians (it even sounds like a cult) seem to have very closed systems.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to DRS says:

            No, I’m not hitting it all that hard. It’s not a catch-all term. Gnosticism predates Christianity, an offshoot of the Zoroastrian belief structure. They seized on the Christ figure, much as Islam did. They seized upon other religious figures as well, Mithras was one, Osiris another.

            The Gnostics believed the world was tainted by sin, that, in Jason’s words, the material world is a sort of testing ground. The material world is most emphatically not all that we get. But they were not Christians by any stretch of the word.Report

            • Jason Kuznicki in reply to BlaiseP says:

              I was recalling C.S. Lewis, and if it helps, substitute this, from Mere Christianity:

              “Christianity is a fighting religion. It things God made the world — that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colours and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God “made up out of His head” as a man makes up a story. but it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.”

              We’re supposed to be here fighting God’s fight, as his soldiers, serving his purposes, and the world is the theater of battle, on which we are commanded.

              If that’s gnosticism, then so be it.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                That has absolutely nothing to do with the point you were making. Christianity views this world, this present world, as more than a testing ground. As Lewis says, in the present tense, things have gone wrong and we must put them right.

                The Christian God is not some vicious, capricious entity, looking down at us crawling like laboratory rats through the maze He constructed. We are made in the image of God, who became one of us because he loved us. But it’s up to us rats to help each other through the maze. Christians believe we are God’s agents in the world.Report

        • Jason Kuznicki in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Blaise, I’ve heard from three Christians so far.

          One’s said “good job,” more or less.

          The second has said that he can’t agree because I wasn’t inclusive enough, and that other aspects of Christianity exist besides the elements I’ve emphasized.

          And then there’s you, and I already know that if I were to say that two and two make four, you would do your level best to figure out how you might say I was wrong.Report

      • Jason, I can’t agree with your assessment of Christianity as mere “Beatitudism.” Calvinism has a strong streak of the type of enterprise and hard work* as argued in


        “the fourth most important sociological book of the 20th century.” [Pardon my Wiki, but it’ll suffice here.]

        “Beatitudism” is certainly a legitimate variant of Christianity–and the currently fashionable one—but Calvinism in particular found its own path to deal with the world that’s not as, well, Barney-like [unlike Roman Catholicism, whose social science theory has a strong streak of Beatitudism].

        See also Ben Franklin, who shed the Calvinist faith he was raised in, but not its sensibilities.


    • MFarmer in reply to BlaiseP says:

      Greenspan was on the periphery of the “Collective”, hanging out at times, but Greenspan was never a Rand disciple. Greenspan believed some of the objectivist philosophy but was much too pragmatic to maintain a consistent ideology.Report

      • James K in reply to MFarmer says:

        Also too much of a political animal. You don’t get to be Governor of the Fed by accident.Report

      • Russell M in reply to MFarmer says:

        this right here is my problem with libertarianism, objectivism, and today’s conservatives. the ideology can not be failed but anyone who travels in your circle who fails is retroactively made not really part of the circle.Report

        • MFarmer in reply to Russell M says:

          If you read the history, which was written before this conversation, you’d know that Greenspan wasn’t a Rand adherent, and the history was not written with the outside chance that one day we’d dismiss Greenspan when he became Fed chairman and very popular.Report

  4. TD says:


    Every Christian working in a commerce a “monstrous hybrid of Randism and Christianity.”Report

    • Russell M in reply to TD says:

      i think that’s a little narrow right there. say what you want about the owners of Chik-fil-a and hobby lobby but they do try their best to bring their christian values and beliefs into the cold world of business. and they are successful for the most part.Report

  5. mrprincipal03 says:

    A healthy dose of attitude adjustment, and perspective overhaul would be in order in this instance. I would hope a re interpretation of what Christ did and said might be a good starting point. I hate to rain on anyone’s parade but has the owner thought about finding ways he can do something instead of using the election as his focus, when in reality he needs to figure out how to be successful within the framework he is given. And if he can’t do that, then, maybe it’s time to look for something else to do.Report

  6. mrprincipal03 says:

    Oh hooey, let’s not get into the business of absolutes about anythng.Report

  7. mark boggs says:

    Keep in mind, this is the same Bob Murray from this –


    In 2006, the mine was cited for several safety violations, including lacking the required number of escape routes.[7] Murray said that the safety violations were trivial and included violations such as not having enough toilet paper in the restroom.[8] In addition, a practice[9] referred to as retreat mining was being conducted in some portions of the mine in which the coal had been removed by room and pillar method. The extraction of material literally creates a ‘room’ while the ceiling is supported by the ‘pillars’ of coal that remain. Retreat mining refers to the common practice of removing the pillars while retreating back towards the mine entrance.

    On March 10, 2007 the north barrier pillar suffered from a rock burst, in which pressure causes material from the walls and ceiling to explode inward into the excavated spaces. No miners were injured and all equipment was recovered from the affected area, but the partial collapse closed off that area and forced the mine to instead extract coal that had a higher ash content. The company depended on the low-ash coal to meet its contractual obligations, however, so on March 21 a meeting was held in which it was decided to return to the south barrier pillar. This pillar was adjacent to the north barrier pillar. The March 10 event was never officially reported to MSHA, as required by law. Robert Murray claimed to be unaware of the incident but minutes of the March 21 meeting, released in January 2008, revealed that he had in fact known about it.[10]Report

    • mark boggs in reply to mark boggs says:

      I forgot to include the punchline: The companies return to the area that had been affected by the initial collapse led to another collapse that trapped six miners. Later, another collapse trapped three rescuers trying to get to the six trapped miners. None of them escaped.Report

  8. bill payne says:

    1 kWh = 3412.14163 BTU. More has to go into than comes out. Liberal arts ‘educated’ energy parasities stand to make electricity costs rise and supply unreliable. Current cheap natural gas may not be so in the future. And fracked gas well deplete rapidly, I’ve read. Large-scale solar generation of electricity fraud investigation in underway in New Mexic. Google ‘3412.14163’ for link leads.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to bill payne says:

      This product of Librul Arts Ejukashun understands enough basic chemistry to tell you one kilowatt hour of coal burning produces two pounds of carbon dioxide up the stack. Coal accounts for 45% of all such emissions.

      But, thanks to the Propaganda Artistes of the Clean Coal Industry, we’ve now found a way to push all that carbonic acid across Buckaroo Banzai’s 8th Dimension. Isn’t modern science great?

      May I pass along my congratulations for your great interdimensional breakthrough. I am sure, in the miserable annals of the Earth, you will be duly enshrined.Report

      • Glyph in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Man, I really wish we’d someday get that Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League sequel we were promised in the credits.Report

      • Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

        It’s not that hard to understand.
        The carbon is available to be removed either a) pre-combustion, or b) post-combustion.
        A gasification system removes carbon pre-combustion.
        Catalytic agents are available to make the carbon bind to things other than oxygen post-combustion. At what point in the cycle that occurs is agent-dependent.
        (btw, the excess carbon from gasification systems go to produce asphalt, whereas the excess carbon from petro refining goes to produce coke for smelting.)

        But that’s really one of the big reasons why retrofitting is a bad idea.
        You can’t make a Lamborghini out of a wheelbarrow.

        There’s a big solar plant going up just south of Las Vegas, NV right now.
        It’s a promising technology, but it leaves some unanswered questions.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Will H. says:

          Burning coal old-style is just dumb. I’ll grant you the newer plants output less carbon dioxide but even Pleasant Prairie in Wisconsin, for all its efforts to attenuate the problem, outputs about the equivalent of 1.7 million cars.

          Burning coal is stupid. Future generations will want that stuff for everything else, plastics, dyes, all sorts of hydrocarbon based solutions. We waste a substantial fraction of the power we do generate in inefficient transmission lines. As you say, you can’t make a Lamborghini out of a wheelbarrow. Energy independence is our most-pressing national security issue. While we continue to pretend it isn’t, grandfathering in these antique polluters, the problem will only get worse.Report

          • Scott in reply to BlaiseP says:


            Maybe you can tell us how we are going to power everything on wind and solar since coal and nukes aren’t green enough.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

              Gosh! I’ve been backing nuclear power for some time. I think we ought to go to nuclear power in a big way, only I’d put the US Navy nuclear techs on the problem: they know how to run a reactor safely and securely. We’ve got tens of thousands of such techs in the civilian world, their skills going unused.

              Civilian nuclear power has shown itself perfectly incapable of bringing in a reactor on time and on budget. It’s a national security issue, leave it there.Report

              • Scott in reply to BlaiseP says:

                You support nukes but many of your libertard friends don’t and they are the ones in charge these days. As for civilian cost overruns who do you think builds the navy’s nukes?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Scott says:

                Scott, ix-nay on the ibertard-lay stuff, por favor? We have enough broken windows around here as it is.Report

              • Russell M in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                thank you for trying to keep the temperature down around here tom. I hope that when I spiral out of control and start spouting uberpartisan gibberish i have a good fellow liberal to drag me back.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

                This, from a man who begged a stupid question. Turns out not every Libertard is an unscientific jackass. Nor are such unscientific jackasses my friends.Report

              • Russell M in reply to Scott says:

                as a Socialist Libertard I support Nuclear power provided we build a rail-gun to shoot the end stage waste into the sun. and we put all the reactors in the wide open western states where the jobs would be appreciated and just in case a reactor was to melt down there will not be many people to turn into radioactive zombies. but i do fear the Radioactive Zombie Mad Cows that such an event will spawn.Report

              • Kim in reply to Scott says:

                You got a lotta geeks around here. +1 for nuclear power. +100 for Nuclear Fusion (courtesy of the US Navy — well, we still need a prototype, they wouldn’t pay for that).Report

              • zic in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Is there anyone in the civilian world of nuclear power (technical side) who didn’t come out of the Navy? My knowledge is limited to family members who made that transition and interviews with recruiters back in the day I wrote for the niche market of active-duty military transitioning to civilian jobs. Seemed to me that Navy had a lock on the civilian jobs.Report

              • Will H. in reply to zic says:

                I don’t think the Navy has a lock on civilian jobs.
                Here’s a list of current status.
                I’ve worked with a lot of people from the TVA, and I was offered an inspector’s position at Turkey Point earlier this year. Bad area. Rather be at Dresden.

                It’s doable. You have to know the procedure.Report

              • Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

                There’s some type of development process where they take the stuff from old nuclear warheads and turn it into fuel-grade stuff.
                I forget the name of it.
                But they’ve got the first of the fuel plants operable in Georgia.
                They wouldn’t have built it if they didn’t have a market for it.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Will H. says:

                Some of that old USSR plutonium currently powers our current rover on Mars.Report

              • Russell M in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I like that. the cold war just keeps on giving.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Will H. says:

                In one of Kirk Sorensen’s FLiBe talks on Youtube, he mentions that NASA, the US, and the Russians are out of Pu-238, which NASA needs for such deep space missions. Pu-238 is the waste that’s left over from a Thorium reactor, and we need it desperately.

                FLiBe talkReport

            • George Turner in reply to Scott says:

              We can’t use Navy tech because it won’t meet DOE standards for civilian energy production. FLiBe energy’s thorium reactors are aimed at the military market because there are too many regulatory hurdles on the civilian side. And, of course, Obama has forbidden the construction of new nuclear power plants until we have a national waste repository, and he cancelled the twenty years of studies and construction we’d done on the Yucca Mountain site, which was still decades away from operation. So perhap in 40 to 50 years we’ll be able to increase our nuclear energy outlook, but not until then, or at least not until we get an administration who’s willing to let someone who isn’t a campaign bundler produce some energy that doesn’t have to be subsidized.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

                You’re preaching to the choir. Fact is, and we both seem to agree on this issue, it’s a national security issue. If we don’t attenuate our dependence on foreign oil, we will be dragged into petroleum wars. It’s not a matter of if, only when.

                Nuclear power requires a level of rigour unknown in the civilian world. DOE has completely mismanaged the Yucca Mountain project. We need numerous small reactors on military reservations if need be, but the current regulatory situation is intolerable and frankly unscientific. It’s a gigantic Woozle Hunt, conducted by bureaucrats who lack the training to manage this situation properly.Report

              • zic in reply to BlaiseP says:

                What do you think of Secretar Chu? Isn’t he exactly the type of manager you’re describing?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to zic says:

                He’s a bright guy and he killed off Yucca Mountain. It was just a waste of time and effort. And Yucca Mountain was the wrong approach, for a variety of reasons.

                First reason: nuclear “waste” isn’t really waste. It can go on generating low levels of power for many centuries. Our current reactor technology is only burning the bark off the log. For all practical purposes, we’re throwing a burning log into a mine shaft where it will go on burning for thousands of years.

                Second: nuclear tech isn’t safe in the hands of civilians. It can be repurposed, as we all know, into all sorts of evil weapons, most of which don’t have to explode to cause horrific and lasting damage. Nuclear needs military grade security for this reason.

                Third: DOE has become NASA-fied. Ossified. It’s lost its sense of purpose. It hasn’t done anything significant to attenuate our external energy dependence. DOE needs to be pulled down and reconstructed and given a mandate. NASA, at least, learned from its disasters and called in the Navy to get QC right.Report

              • Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I don’t buy into the whole idea of military-level security for nuke sites.
                Granted, I’ve been badged at Kennedy Space Center, and I have a current TWIC card.
                I don’t have a red badge though.
                I’ll probably have one within a couple of years, but a lot of that stuff they want to know is crap.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                You know more about this problem than I know. But two aspects of this problem are undeniable: the civilians have been stacking up all this waste and it all ought to be repurposed instead of generating Cerenkov radiation at the bottom of a pool. The situation is absurd.

                Furthermore, how are we going to get past all these know-nothing NIMBYs? They hear the world “nuclear” and start neighing like the horses in Young Frankenstein when anyone says “Frau Blucher“. They’re ninnies, but they have an important point: fissile materials in the hands of idiots is a recipe for long-term disaster.

                Your cavalier attitude about site security is duly noted.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                It’s not my area of expertise, so take this as just a proffered factoid. France stores all its spent waste on site at its plants.Report

              • Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Sure, something needs to be done about the waste.
                Vitrification looks like a promising technology, but I’m not so sure it’s ever been accomplished on a large scale (even after billions of federal dollars at the Columbia River facility).

                ‘Cavalier’ isn’t very descriptive of my attitude toward nuclear site security.
                It should be sufficient, yes; asinine, no.

                We’re talking generating stations here.
                I’ve been into national nuclear defense sites, and the security there is much, much lower than at a nuclear power station.

                There’s so much iridium riding around out on the highways that the mere presence of radioactive materials is not a decent argument.

                That said, I’m talking about the badging process here, not the number of guards at the gate.
                Kennedy Space Center has two armed guards with machine guns at every gate, and they always, but always have a finger on the trigger.

                But some of the rules are stupid.
                There are sites where there is a chain link fence that I can take a picture of what’s visible from the street, but to snap a photo on the other side of that chain link fence is a national security issue.
                It really makes no sense.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                France’s nuclear strategy was coherent enough for an operator at one plant to work at another plant. Here in the USA, we’ve been building hideously expensive one-off reactors.

                France generates so much electrical power they export it, so much they close their reactors on the weekend. First, they run pumps to fill their reservoirs, so their dams can regenerate the power. They’ve got so much capacity they’re planning to close down some old reactors. But they’ve got plans to replace them with even better reactors.

                Americans are such idiots. In France, the critics of nuclear power are only asking for the older, un-safer plants to be closed. They’d also like an end to nuclear weapons, but really, it’s a more-nuanced argument in France.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Will H: hee hee. Wooo! (wiggles fingers menacingly) — radioactivity! It’s so scary! Never mind that this planet is chock full of radioactive materials, or that our most serious nuclear pollution problem is radium and thorium released from these old polluting coal plants. You can’t tell these goddamn unscientific NIMBYs anything, I tell you.

                The chief reason for putting this in the hands of the military is to build a coherent line and staff chart for this problem, with effective and less-asinine regulatory policy.

                But, as I said, you really do know more about this problem than I do. Forgive me for misunderstanding what you meant about the military-grade security.Report

              • Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Nothing to forgive, really.
                A lack of clarity in terms on my part, I believe.

                And really, I think you probably know more about the issue overall than I do.
                I know only a few little pieces, but I know those pieces very well.

                I don’t get to play with the building blocks in the room where the big kids play.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Offhand, I think the reason Americans are so paranoid about nuclear power probably goes hand-in-hand with your comment about it being something you don’t want in the hands of civilians.

                My issues with nuclear power revolve entirely around safety — and a deep belief that any for-profit company operating a nuclear facility is invietably going to cut corners. The history of civilian nuclear plants is full of faulty designs, bad safety choices, bad plant locations….all sorts of short-term thinking that you just don’t really want in something where “goes wrong” means a heck of a lot more nasty problems than just a NG plant blowing up.

                Humans are notoriously bad at assessing risk. Especially when assessing it involves cutting profits.Report

              • Scott in reply to BlaiseP says:


                Americans are paranoid about nuclear power b/c of the fear mongering by liberatrds like jane fonda after three mile island claiming that everyone was going to get cancer when the exact opposite has been proven.


              • Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Quehana ring a bell, Sir Scott?
                How about Saxton?

                Pa’s lost a lotta babies after TMI… Lost a lot of LAND after Quehana (no build zones…) And saxton ain’t ever recovered.

                How about those “no treat” water orders we got on LONG ISLAND after Sandy? That’s called alpha radiation warnings, for the less educated.Report

              • Scott in reply to zic says:

                The guy that wants $9 gas? He is a real winner. Maybe he and Barry can go grabndstabnd in front of another solar factory that will go out of business.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

                Maybe, at some point, we can have America pull its collective head out of its ass and start thinking about alternatives to gasoline. The technology of the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine is antique thinking, long past due for replacement. It’s the complaint of the chump, that the price of gasoline is high.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:

                It’s in the Bill of Rights, Blaise.

                “Government shall make no law increasing the price of gasoline, nor shall they fail to subsidize it so as to hide its true costs. This article shall be enforceable by the whining of backward looking citizens.”Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

                Hydrogen and stupidity are the two most abundant elements in the universe and stupidity has a longer shelf life.

                Imagine (dreamy fade and harp arpeggio here) a world where we could harness stupidity to generate power. Jeebus Crispus, we’d have the energy problem licked in no time flat.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Scott says:

                “They took our geeass!”Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                Well, it can’t be that rigorous if drunk Russians can do it and get away with it – most of the time. ^_^

                If we’d switch to thorium (or just molten salt) reactors the whole energy issue might go away, even the motor fuel issue, since high temperature molten salts from a reactor could probably drive the initial coal/water reaction in a coal-to-liquids plant, instead of using partial combustion, which creates CO2 just to drive the thermodynamics of the rest of the reactions.

                And as Kirk Sorensson points out, the thorium in the fly ash from the coal contains more potential energy than the coal did.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

                The Russians produce bumper crops of mathematicians and physicists and chess players and rocket scientists and engineers. Alas, that they have also learned to convert the potato to vodka. The Russians were put upon this earth to teach mankind what suffering really looks like, lest the rest of us should grumble overmuch.

                But yeah, it really is time to take nuclear reactor technology out of the hands of the civilians and the Chicken Little dumbasses over at DOE. Give it to the Navy, they know what they’re doing. They gave the world SUBSAFE levels of quality checking and nothing less will do for reactor construction and maintenance.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Alas, that they have also learned to convert the potato to vodka.

                Necessity is the mother of invention. Unfortunately for them they lacked sufficient corn to make bourbon.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

                You wonder how the antinuclear people can even think.

                “If a reactor exploded like Chernobyl then it would render thousands of square miles uninhabitable!”
                “Sure, and if global warming raises the sea level the way you claim it will, the flooding will render millions of square miles uninhabitable!”

                “Um, but if we passed a law making it illegal to emit carbon, that would solve global warming!”
                “So would a law making it illegal to place any lawsuit or pass any law that prevented the construction of a DOE-certified nuclear power plant! And that law would be less of a burden on existing society!”

                “But nuclear power plants produce waste!”
                “So does burning coal, and the waste from nuclear power plants just sits there in a nice solid lump, as opposed to going up a smokestack and blowing all over the country!”Report

              • Russell M in reply to DensityDuck says:

                you also have to figure in how a fairly large amount of the anti-nuclear people are NIMBY types who only hate the nuclear power plant when it is within 200 miles of their house. and some are the people who cant tell the difference between splitting to atom to destroy Hiroshima and splitting the atom to power Vegas and New York.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Can you please pass this line of argument up to republican leaders in the house and senate.

                I would prefer fierce advocates of nuclear power that accept the reality of climate change to the current group of yahoos about to head the science committee.

                In fact I should write to my congress and senate critters.Report

        • George Turner in reply to Will H. says:

          Since we’re the Saudi Arabia of coal, doesn’t using coal to maintain energy independence make quite a bit of sense? Coal to liquids is an attractive option, but in the current regulatory environment anyone would be a fool to try it because the EPA would find a thousand excuses to shut down such a plant at the loss of a billion or more dollars in investment capital.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

            Sure, once the problem of carbon dioxide sequestration has been solved. And what’s this with turning EPA into a bogeyman? This is a world of causality: actions have consequences. Why aren’t the coal miners and coal-burners thinking about the consequences of their actions?Report

            • Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

              I don’t think the EPA is the bogeyman.
              From what I’ve seen, regulation tends to drive innovation.

              But I don’t think that energy independence will ever be anything other than a pipe dream.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Will H. says:

                Maybe you’re right. Thermodynamics says there’s always going to be some trade-off to generate those watts. But there are varying degrees of dependence and varying degrees of onerous consequences inherent in the choices we must make to keep the lights on. Auden:

                Faces along the bar
                Cling to their average day:
                The lights must never go out,
                The music must always play,
                All the conventions conspire
                To make this fort assume
                The furniture of home;
                Lest we should see where we are,
                Lost in a haunted wood,
                Children afraid of the night
                Who have never been happy or good.

              • Will H. in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Children afraid of the night
                Who have never been happy or good.

                I’ve known a few of those.

                I think the issue of varying degrees is a salient one.
                Although I don’t think energy independence is feasible, I think we could come up with enough to keep up with increased demand and keep imported fuels around current levels.

                Likewise, I don’t think that expansion of energy from coal is necessarily wise, but replacing the old units with the newer technology to keep the same overall generating capacity is certainly feasible.
                That’s why I support cap-and-trade rather than a carbon tax.
                Implementing the newer technologies has to be, not only feasible, but profitable.
                There has to be concessions somewhere.

                But what we have seen in recent times is that a void of regulation on our part encourages technological developments elsewhere in the world.
                That just leaves us to pay out the royalties overseas, imposing a greater cost long-term.Report

              • Kim in reply to Will H. says:

                Give us 30 years, and we’ll have energy independence. I believe in America’s scientists. They’re better than the world’s best.Report

          • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

            Because it’s easier to sell the coal to India and China let them not sequester the CO2, and then let them make all the glass, concrete, brick, steel, and aluminum for Europe and North America because they’ll have the lowest energy costs. That way we can export raw materials and import finished goods like any good third-world country.Report

    • MaxL in reply to bill payne says:

      The Neoclassicists at U of Chicago even made us read read this dreck during my liberal indoctrination, but I am starting to think I should give it a hotkey for days like this.

      From “The Road to Serfdom”:

      “Nor can certain harmful effects of deforestation, or of some methods of farming, or of the smoke and noise of factories, be confined to the owner of the property in question or to those who are willing to submit to the damage for an agreed compensation. In such instances we must find some substitute for the regulation by the price mechanism. But the fact that we have to resort to the substitution of direct regulation by authority where the conditions for the proper working of competition cannot be created, does not prove that we should suppress competition where it can be made to function.” (Hayek, 1944)Report

  9. NewDealer says:

    And on the combination:

    People are simply really good at compartmenalizing and holding wildly contradictory beliefs without a second thought. I do this, other people on the League do this, you do this, everyone does it. The problem is that we are really good at catching these contradictions in others but not in ourselves. We need to be called out to see our own contradictions.

    I know a woman who belongs to a facebook community with a name like “Peaceloving Hippie Freaks”. She shares memes from this group fairly often and it is fairly typical hippie-liberal stuff. One shared meme was a picture of someone from a third-world country who was using crushed soda bottles as impromptou footwear because he could not afford shoes with a message on shutting up about your first-world problems. A few weeks ago facebook informed me that said woman also “liked” Mitt Romney. Then I would see her gush about Mitt and wonder if he saw an astrologer because Mitt was a Pieces III like her.

    Needless to say this caused me to scratch my head a bit. However, it probably did not cause her the same kind of perplexity.Report

  10. MaxL says:

    Would Mr Murray find all of this more palatable if, instead regulation, the cost of coal energy production and use externalities were priced into the market via a tax? I bet not.

    I am almost certain that Rand never addressed the possibility that natural resources and the the tolerance of the environment to withstand their use are finite. Given what we have learned about our ecosystem since she wrote her books, this all sounds like so much phony window dressing to the simple fact that a better understanding of the cost of using coal is eating into a billionaire’s bottom line.

    Mr Murray is conveniently rationalizing his aversion to loss; there is no principle at stake here.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to MaxL says:

      Coal is getting hammered against natural gas as it is. (And that’s with happily ignoring the EPA and safety regs) Throwing in a carbon tax to price externalities properly? Good god, they’d have to innovate and find some sort of new way of using it.Report

    • Matty in reply to MaxL says:

      Given a finite volume of the Earth how could natural resources not be finite? It doesn’t take any new learning to work that out.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to Matty says:

        Hmm. that’s when you get into “Oh, it doesn’t matter, Jesus will return before we run out”.Report

      • MaxL in reply to Matty says:

        Seems obvious doesn’t it? But it really hasn’t been so for very long. The idea that there is always space, there is always more of x if we just build the road, there is always more of everything we need (clean water, wetlands, fish, reefs, wildlife, timber, etc…) wasn’t really challenged until the effects of the damage we were causing were noticed in the early 60’s. “Silent Spring” is still read today not so much because of it’s message, we have all heard it, but because it shows just how new the idea of limits on these things is.Report

  11. Kazzy says:

    “Lord, please forgive me and anyone with me in Murray Energy Corp. for the decisions that we are now forced to make to preserve the very existence of any of the enterprises that you have helped us build.”

    I’d like to see him document exactly how Obama’s re-election risks his enterprises. We’ve reached a point where a company making $10B instead of $12B is seen as an unacceptable negative. “Earnings loss” they call it. But it is all still profit… 10 or 11 digits worth of profit.Report

    • cfpete in reply to Kazzy says:

      This is not really a mystery: Obama Administration Sits on Key Regulations
      “As Obama’s reelection drew closer, his enthusiasm for regulating dimmed sharply. In the summer of 2011, EPA was expected to issue a long-awaited regulation curbing smog-causing ozone pollution from coal plants. But the rule concerned the White House political staff, because it would have directly affected coal plants in Ohio, Virginia, and Pennsylvania—all key swing states. White House officials reportedly told Jackson to delay the rule until after the election—a move, people close to the EPA said, that nearly led to the administrator’s resignation.
      That was the beginning of the freeze. As 2011 drew to a close, EPA staffers continued to finalize major environmental rules—but not to submit them to OMB for review. Industry lobbyists and environmental lawyers estimate that the EPA is currently sitting on about a dozen new major regulations, completed, and ready to roll out the door, but on hold until after the election. Nearly all of them will have a significant impact on the coal and oil industry. ”

      If you view climate change as an important issue then you have to admit there will be consequences from the policies you endorse. Jobs will be lost. Entire towns of people no one considers wealthy will be decimated.
      Better to think about a way to help these people than to pretend their plight doesn’t exist.Report

      • Will H. in reply to cfpete says:

        I don’t really know about proposed regulations affecting the oil industry, but oil sands petro has definitely affected it in a big way.
        The oils sands stuff is high in sulfur and generates a lot of acids in the refining process.
        A lot more chrome in the piping these days.
        Odd that no one really seems to consider hexavalent chromium when discussing oil sands crude, but it’s darned sure inevitable.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to cfpete says:

        But why must jobs be lost? Because of our foundation on the greed principle. Many of these companies can exist and exist well with the regulations… they’ll just profit (PROFIT!) less. But that’s not acceptable. Maximize profits at all costs.

        And, for the record, I don’t think the government should necessarily do anything about this. But it stinks like shit when folks get all pious when they are needlessly cutting jobs.Report

        • zic in reply to Kazzy says:

          And, for the record, I don’t think the government should necessarily do anything about this. But it stinks like shit when folks get all pious when they are needlessly cutting jobs.

          Government already does some things about this: unemployment insurance, cobra, job retraining amongst them. The other thing government does is set a base of safe working conditions. Here, I suspect, government will do more, for this is (far as I can tell, ) the single most lethal employer in the nation right now.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to zic says:

            What I mean is that I don’t think the government should do anything like cap profits or earnings or whathaveyou. If companies want to downsize to maximize their profits, they should be free to, free of government intrusion. But they sure as hell won’t get sympathy from me and I’ll call BS on their faux-piousness.

            If the regulations would actually drive the company under, I’d like to see evidence to that.Report

        • cfpete in reply to Kazzy says:

          “But why must jobs be lost?”
          If you are going to use less coal then you need fewer people to mine coal.
          I believe you are a teacher. If the population of your town decreases because families move away due to job loses from say a coal mine closure, do you expect the school system to employ the same number of teachers? What do you do – put two teachers in every classroom? How do you expect the town to pay for the same number of teachers with a reduced tax base?

          “And, for the record, I don’t think the government should necessarily do anything about this. ”
          How about job retraining? Money to cover moving expenses and a few months rent in a place with better job prospects. ?

          I don’t give a sh*t about the CEO, but I don’t think he is laying people off just because Obama won. Here are some other coal layoffs: Around 90 TECO Coal employees lose jobs Alpha Natural Resources Closing 8 Coal Mines, Cutting 1,200 Jobs

          Now part of the coal industry’s problem is cheap nat gas, but current and impending regulations will also reduce the demand for coal and lead to layoffs.
          Maybe we could do something to help out these families. I guess you think not.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to cfpete says:


            I’m okay with those measures by the gov. What I mean is that they shouldn’t do anything about layoffs or companies chasing profit above all else.

            If less coal is being utilized, then, yes, less jobs will be there. That is an unfortunate reality. But if the same amount of coal is being utilized but profits drop 2% and the best way to avoid that is to fire people and demand that those still employed work more for the same pay? Fine but, again, get off your goddamn pious high horse.

            Again, we’ve reached a point where “lower profits” has become equivalent to a “loss”. I’m far from a finance or economic expert but that seems a bit perverse, no?Report

            • cfpete in reply to Kazzy says:

              “Again, we’ve reached a point where “lower profits” has become equivalent to a “loss”. ”
              I understand what you are saying I just don’t believe that applies here.
              Eg. The newspaper industry didn’t lay people off to increase profits. They had no profits – some still don’t (wash post.)

              A certain number of layoffs in the coal industry will be due to regulation and I don’t know if you have been to a coal town but there are not many other job prospects in most. The mine closes and the town dies. So maybe we could help these families a bit more than just the usual UI benefits.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to cfpete says:


                I think you might be misunderstanding me a bit here, so hopefully I can clarify.

                If the coal industry works as you say it does, in terms of its impact on local towns, (and I have no reason to think otherwise), then I would support government efforts to avoid the likely end result. I would *not* support the government mandating that those companies keep those people employed.

                Industries have to adapt. The newspaper industry is a great example. If a business model is not profitable, it is reasonable to make major changes to that business model, even if that means layoffs. I just get frustrated when companies DO have profitable business models, when they are making profits in the millions or billions but, for whatever reason, that isn’t enough, so they lay people off, demand more from the workers they hold on to, and rake in even bigger problems. That is a perverse mindset, one that I think our society has adapted more broadly, and which bothers me. But I don’t think there exists an appropriate government solution to that, at least not from the top down.

                During last year’s NFL and NBA lockouts, both league offices trimmed workers. A news report I read at the time said that not only were they laying folks off, but they had no intention to rehire them once the lockouts were over; they’d simply work “more efficiently”. What this really meant was that they would lean on folks who had limited job prospects because of a tough economy to work longer and harder for the same pay, lest they find themselves laid off, and when the gravy train got rolling again, the money would all funnel upwards. That’s fucked up. It’s legal, and ought to be, but it is fucked up. And it is doubly fucked up when those people invoke their religion to sanctimoniously paint themselves as victims.Report

              • zic in reply to Kazzy says:

                Just a small point here, Kazzy.

                The newspaper industry is a great example. If a business model is not profitable, it is reasonable to make major changes to that business model, even if that means layoffs.

                There have been massive layoffs, and we, as citizens who depend on verified news, are the worse off for it, now there’s a whole new field of ‘fact checkers,’ which used to be what reporters actually did when they were doing their jobs.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to zic says:

                Well, if citizens were willing to pay for their news, this wouldn’t be an issue. But folks want it for free. Which is why the quality has dropped.

                It’s like people who complain about commercials during television. Do you know what your cable rates would be if there weren’t commercials subsidizing the costs? People don’t like to think of it that way. They just want what they want.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to zic says:

                The newspapers were never the authoritative sources we thought they were at the time. Consider the failure of the major newspapers to report on the Holocaust in Europe. In these times, the news reaches us far more directly and from many different directions. It’s far harder to hide things these days.

                There’s always a tendency to look to the past, to the halcyon days of yore, as if things were better, when Uncle Walter Cronkite’s gravitas was enough for us and we were content. It was never so simple. If ordinary citizens have become fact checkers, they now have the facts to check.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kazzy says:

                Kazzy, I saw the same thing in the law business. Law firms needed to lay off some folks at the downturn, but used the occasion to shed their deadweight employees as well. Without the cover of “bad times,” there would have been a social stigma in the law firm world, and of course bad feeling at the firm itself, firing good old Jackson [what did he do again?] 3 years from retirement.

                And in other industries as well, the remaining employees were expected to pick up the slack when there was a bounceback, fewer employees doing the same amount of work.

                What to do about this stuff, I dunno. The companies do become more profitable, the deadweight really did need to be pruned. OTOH, the remaining employees get little or nothing for having their workloads increased.

                Only in boom times does the labor force boom, where carrying a few extra employees is worth it rather than risk losing out on growing more business. That’s when the entrepreneurial spirits reign rather than the MBAs counting beans in the back room.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Also, during boom times your workers have options, and to keep them you have to make nice to them by giving them perks like weekends off. That aside, I agree 100%,Report

              • By all means, Mike: I endorse your addendum. And I think the corollaries are obvious, or should be.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                There are definitely businesses that get fat during good times. I worked in a school that grew to have nearly as many administrators as teachers because, hey, we were flush with cash. When things turned south (and it wasn’t JUST the economy but a series of other questionable decisions) and money got tight, folks had to go. Some of these folks the school could definitely do without even if numbers rise. But some will need to be returned. The question is, will they?

                Again, what to do about this? Not much, from a top-down government perspective. Ideally we can shift our broader cultural and societal focus to one that does not view individual profits as the primary motivating factor. A sense of responsibility to a broader community is a GOOD thing when nurtured healthily, if you ask me.Report

              • Roger in reply to Kazzy says:

                Creative destruction is our friend, not our enemy. Long term, it may be our best friend imaginable.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

                tell this to the vast rightwing conspiracy. they don’t appear to have gotten the message.Report

        • Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

          Why must jobs be lost? B/c the job of a corp is to make profit for its shareholder not act as a non-for profit full employment agency. Why do you think folks go into business in the first place? You seem to want our corps to act like the employers in the former commie countries that employed lots of folks but couldn’t survive without their gov’t handouts. Hmm, maybe that really is what you want.Report

    • James K in reply to Kazzy says:

      It’s not a good idea to evaluate profits in absolute dollar terms. Profit is a return on capital – it’s basically rent you pay to your shareholders for using their money.

      As such, when evaluating profits, you need to do it as profit per unit of capital (i.e. Return on Equity or ROE), and instead of using zero as a benchmark, you need to compare it to the company’s cost of capital, which is basically a combination of the supply of investment money vs. the demand for it, plus adjustments for things like inflation and how risky the company is to invest in.

      I have no idea what the financial position of this particular company is, but in the generic case, if $12b is above a company’s cost of capital and $10b is below it then that earnings loss is the difference between that company continuing to exist and either being restructured or shut down.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to James K says:


        Thanks for the explanation but you’ve already well surpassed my knowledge base. Please note that I’m not talking about earnings; I’m talking about profits.

        For example, in 2011, if I made $50K and all my expenses and savings and whathaveyou totaled $40K, I could say I profited $10K.
        In 2012, if I make $52K and all my expenses and savings and whathaveyou totaled $43K, I would have profited $9K.
        $9K is less than $10K, but I’d be hardpressed to say I “lost” money. I’m still up on the year and up over the two year period. Now, I’d want to look closely at the numbers and determine if there are trends there, if I’m looking at reaching a point where my costs outpace my earnings. I wouldn’t fault companies for doing that. And if changes were necessary, so be it. But I see headlines (and, again, I rarely read past headlines on economic news so if I’m way off, please correct me) where companies record profits in the millions and billions but which are less than previous profits and folks act as if they went bankrupt. This boggles the mind, especially given that it seems reasonable to expect lower profits in a down economy.Report

        • James K in reply to Kazzy says:

          It’s true that making $9000 instead of $10,000 is not losing money, but it still might be a problem. If an investment of similar size and risk could earn $10,000 instead of the $9,000 you can offer then your investors may well decide they want to put their money elsewhere. If things don’t turn around it can result in your company being starved of capital, or being taken over and restructured.

          Profits don’t need to be near zero for there to be a problem.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to James K says:

            My belief in the collective wisdom of investors has taken a beating of late.

            The financial bubble was driven by excess capital seeking increasingly higher returns, with ridiculous risk requirements.

            I remember when investors and bankers were sober men in suits, who would weigh higher risks with higher rewards — those days were better.

            Then again, I remember seeing “Flip This House” on TV and wondering how in the heck no one seemed to see the end coming. Especially the guys with billions on the line.Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to Kazzy says:

          In the first case, you earned a 25% return on your $40K. The next year, you earned about 21%. Without putting a particular number on it, if you continue on trend, you’ll eventually reach a rate of return where you say, “Why should I bother running this operation when I could earn the same yield by putting my cash in a CD and heading off to the pub?” Once that happens, you’ll make the perfectly rational decision to close your business without ever having an operating loss.Report

        • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

          beer companies. if they start having problems in a down economy, then i’d worry.Report

    • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

      Mercury regs.
      after thirty years of not following the laws as written (grandfathered, and cheaters to boot), I have NO sympathy. Many lives lost because of these filthy scumbags.Report

  12. MFarmer says:

    We’ll have to wait to see what happens to unemployment in the next six months.Report

  13. Gradivus says:

    Mr. Kuznicki, it seems to me you’re making a fundamentally false assumption right from the start. You are apparently assuming that since Objectivism and Christianity have different basic premises and purposes, that therefore they cannot agree on similar principles of good government. This is a false assumption.

    I don’t see in Mr. Murray’s prayer or statement, any “hybrid” of Christianity and Objectivism whatsoever. He’s merely stating his philosophy, and revealing his opinion about what is good and what is bad government, in the form of a prayer. So what? What difference should it make to you if his worldview is Christianity, if his conclusions as to what constitutes good government is very similar to yours? Does it make any sense to reject it just because his conclusions (which you otherwise agree with, if not completely then at least in comparison with the leftist alternative) does not have its source in Objectivism? That seems remarkably shortsighted, and petty.

    In my family, rejecting the aid of a well-meaning ally in time of great need because his motives are not the same as yours, would be called an example of “biting off your nose to spite your face.”Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to Gradivus says:

      I’m not even really reaching the form of government they advocate. More like looking at their personal ethics. The one is individualist and professes rational self-interest. The other preaches charity and self-sacrifice.

      Those two don’t go together, whatever else they may or may not say about government.Report

  14. Gradivus says:

    *his conclusion

    This commentary page could use an “edit” button for typos.Report

  15. Stillwater says:

    Good post, Jason. The link between Murray’s words and actions is a bit puzzling. One that invites some speculative analysis.

    I’d go with a complex, three pronged attack, myself. Firing these people is a) justified in purely economic terms, but since Murray is b) a self-described Job Creator, and firing workers is acting more like a Job-Destroyer, so Murray needs to c) shift the blame onto someone else, namely Obama, who has demonstrated – it’s Empirically Verified!!! – he’s an unChristian, anti-Individualist redistributing Satanic collectivist.

    Obama’s the Job Destroyer. All you have to do the realize that is view things thru the same thin Randian-Christian gauze our “Job Creators” view themselves thru to see it revealed for what it is.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

      In other words: his Prayer should be understood on psychological rather than philosophical/ideological terms.Report

    • zic in reply to Stillwater says:

      Have you ever read the religious justifications for slavery the Antebellum South cooked up?

      Lord, please forgive me and anyone with me in Murray Energy Corp. for the decisions that we are now forced to make to preserve the very existence of any of the enterprises that you have helped us build. We ask for your guidance in this drastic time with the drastic decisions that will be made to have any hope of our survival as an American business enterprise. replace enterprise with slave and the prayers feel akin to one another. I do this for your own good, in the hopes of perfecting you for God.Report

  16. Burt Likko says:

    I’m not sure Mr. Murray was purporting to be an Objectivist so much as a businessman, one looking to shift moral responsibility for the awful decision to lay off dozens of workers on someone or something else.

    This “prayer” is nothing of the sort. It is a public temper tantrum and a dramatic reversal from the virtues of “knowledge” and “self control” extolled in Second Peter. Note that no “war on coal” policy is identified, no concrete act of the Obama Administration rendering the profitable and legal operation of the company is set forth. Only instead the ridiculous proposition that the voters chose “redistribution” over “freedom,” in an effort to say that Mr. Obama and not Mr. Murray is responsible for those jobless former workers’ soon-to-be-reduced standards of living. Notice how Mr. Murray makes no mention of any pay cuts he is imposing on himself.

    Lord, forgive this man for he is a tool.Report

  17. KatherineMW says:

    I am personally of the belief that if Hell has a philosophy, it is close to that of Ms. Rand.

    Objectivism is the glorification of selfishness. Christianity is centred in the principle of servanthood. The two can have nothing to do with each other; anyone who tries to combine them has departed very far from Christianity.Report

  18. Mike Schilling says:

    His act is nothing if not a publicity stunt. But a man who did not live for the sake of others, and who did not ask others to live for his, would have rather little need of ego-stroking publicity.

    Are you really saying that there’s no monetary value in publicity? Rand certainly knew better.Report

  19. ktward says:

    One thing I don’t get is the monstrous hybrid of Randism and Christianity so often seen on the American right. If America were in any danger of becoming an Objectivist nation, we would see it in a precipitous decline in church attendance on the right. We are in no such danger. It’s the monstrous hybrid that really seems to be taking over.

    It’s less a monstrous hybrid, more just another convenient coalition of like-minded folks for political purposes. This is typical Christian Right stuff. I saw it aplenty in various settings all throughout my childhood in the 60s and 70s– back when Paul Ryan started out an eye twinkle and grew to drooling tyke.

    You had best resign yourself to it. Your Randian ideals — all except the atheism part of course — map nicely over the Christian Right’s. I attended Christian private school K-8, and while I never heard a peep about Ayn Rand I learned Bastiat’s The Law backwards and forwards. Take out God, and Rand and Bastiat are largely indistinguishable.Report

    • ktward in reply to ktward says:

      Take heart though, Jason. There are plenty of atheist lefites who get all hinky and bent out of shape when the Christian Left starts talking about God or prayer or faith. And boy! Do they write plenty of scathing commentary, not unlike yours, toward their religious counterparts. But in the end, they’re all basically on the same page when it comes to public policy.

      Atheists are increasingly making intolerant bedfellows, politically speaking. Left and Right. Just my opinion.

      (Full disclosure: raised a Christian fundamentalist, turned atheist. Ended up 20 years ago an agnostic UU, a spot I’ve found very comfy.)Report

      • James K in reply to ktward says:

        I think, in the US particularly, atheists are sick of being kicked around. It’s easy for me to be a chill atheist in New Zealand, the idea of bringing religion into politics in unthinkable here, and religious views are considered a private matter.

        But in t he US? Where most of the population considers atheists to be unfit for public office, where your politicians make constant references to God and any criticism of religion is considered utterly inappropriate? I can understand why American atheists are angry.Report

        • ktward in reply to James K says:

          I’d challenge your assertion that, today, most of the US population considers atheists unfit to hold public office, although it’s certainly true among certain populations.

          Atheists don’t get kicked around by the Christian Left. They’re Lefties, they don’t roll like that. Jim Wallis is not Franklin Graham. Nevertheless, there are some prominent atheists — Dawkins, Hitchens (RIP), Harris and the like — who do not draw any distinction between the Christian Left and Right.

          Well, they don’t draw any distinctions at all: all religion is bad bad bad. It’s this binary mindset, atheist or religious, that occasionally creeps under my skin.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to ktward says:

            I would make a distinction between atheists and anti-theists such as Dawkins and the late Mr. Hitchens. Atheism is a matter of personal belief, sacrosanct in the American pantheon of rights.

            However, the anti-theist, well, I’m with GWash:

            “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.

            And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

            The utilitarian argument for religion, mind you, particularly per our own cultural history.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Once Jefferson had been elected, he did away with some aspects of Religiosity which had crept into the official calendar in Washington and Adams’ tenures. Though he’d been party to some Official Religiosity in his younger days, Jefferson held no truck with such things as President.

              The idea that national morality is dependent upon religious principle is genially rejected by this Religious Person. First, it’s absurd and offensive to think the atheist isn’t a moral being. But it’s even more pernicious to believe a nation based upon freedom of conscience could ever be guided by any united ethic beyond that of the law.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Actually, the halls of Congress were lent for religious services and Jefferson attended, during the construction of Washington DC. It is true that Jefferson dispensed with the Thanksgiving proclamations of Washington and John Adams, but he wasn’t quite the strict separationist he is painted to be by some folks.

                Further, a close read of the GWash quote does indeed allow for atheists to be moral

                Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure

                But for the greater mass of men [“national” morality], wisdom and experience suggest, not so much. But thanks for your comment.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Thanks for filling in the blanks on my “some aspects of Religiosity”. In the immortal words of Ed Anger, it makes me pig-biting mad when people say atheists aren’t moral persons. Everyone’s a moral being.

                And let’s face it, “national morality” is just so skeevy and underhanded. All such talk offends me and ought to offend everyone. So what, you might be a Hindu or a Muslim or a Mormon or a Pastafarian, what the hell does that matter to me? In the words of Jefferson, it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket.

                Freedom is a dangerous word. It means I can behave as I wish and nobody can stop me. Freedom of conscience is the greatest of our national virtues. National morality is a blight on any nation.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                When agreeing with George Washington is “offensive,” it’s time to say good night, Gracie.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I think that’s the most absurd comment I’ve ever read by you Tom.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                George Washington — second coming of Jesus, and only the second perfect human to ever exist.

                All Glory to his Georgeness.


      • NewDealer in reply to ktward says:

        Don’t forget Jews.

        I spend a lot of time arguing with more ardent Dawkinites that Judaism is distinct from Right-wing Evangelical Christianity. Interestingly most of my Christian friends are on the left (as are most of my friends). They are largely of Jesuit-Catholic, Quaker, and Unitarian backgrounds.Report

        • ktward in reply to NewDealer says:

          Indeed. I’ve found it too exhausting to judge someone’s character, or even a group of someones, by whatever religious tradition (or absence of same) they follow. I’ll wait until I learn their politics. (I keed I keed. Mostly.)

          Ironically enough, it’s just this kind of stunt that Chairman Murray pulled that further blackens the eye of the Christian Right. Personally, I love to see those folks get publicity– they do themselves no favors.

          Otoh, I do understand why Jason takes such strong offense; these people are on his team, and he doesn’t like it. I don’t blame him.Report

    • Jason Kuznicki in reply to ktward says:

      Rand and Bastiat, certainly. Either of them and Jesus? I don’t really think so. The evident message of the gospels to me is to live a life of simplicity, humility, poverty, and charity. Easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle and all, right?

      We may be arguing when we rather mean to agree, though.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

        While I agree with you that the two value sets are inconsistent, it’s also not by any means a new approach. What it really boils down to (often subconsciously) is “self-interest for me, humility and charity for thee”. Cf. Constantine, and later on, the Divine Right of Kings. The outward show of humility and/or charity is an appeasement, proof that everyone really does submit to external ideals, even the mighty – although those mighty do no such thing.

        In this particular instance, I agree with Stillwater upthread that the particular form of the plea for forgiveness is a psychological defense more than anything else. It is far easier, and far more common, to ask forgiveness for the things that someone else made one do than for the things one didn’t do oneself (say, options-based planning), which are the real reason one’s in the mess one’s in. And easier to ask forgiveness of a caricature of God, Whom one is sure would agree with one’s perspective on the situation, and Who is certainly immune to economic hardship, than to ask forgiveness of those whom one is choosing to harm.

        To own up and say “You know what, I guessed wrong, I made some wrong choices, and as a result things can’t go on as they have been” – regardless of what philosophy that statement came out of, and what his beliefs led him to say next – is a level of self-awareness that most people don’t have. I know I catch myself avoiding such self-knowledge all the time. For example, there’s this paper I really ought to be writing…Report

    • Morat20 in reply to ktward says:

      Investigate “prosperity doctrine” if you want some real fun. That’s the unholy marriage of Rand and Christianity.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Morat20 says:

        Prosperity Doctrine/Gospel of Wealth goes back way before Ayn Rand was even born. I think it always existed in one form or another but largely kicked into full gear during the Gilded Age.

        William Jennings Bryan was the Christian Left of his day. It is too bad we remember him for his downfall during the Monkey Trials. It would be good to remember him for his beliefs in dignity and decency for workers and farmers, his Pacifism (he resigned as Secretary in State because he thought Wilson was gunning up for War with Germany. One can’t imagine something like this happening today.)Report

        • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to NewDealer says:

          I suspect that the antipathy of evangelicals to Darwin was less about the arcana of Biblical Creation, as it was that they recognized how biological Darwinism easily morphed into Social Darwinism; Southern evangelicals hated the Wall Street bankers and the Gilded Age plutocrats, being on the wrong end of their machinations.Report

          • 100% righteous, Mr. Attitude. Here’s to William Jennings Bryan, so maligned by that stupid lying movie.


            In 1921, when he was 61 years old, Bryan began a new campaign — to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools. Many wondered if Bryan had given up his progressive ideals. Had his religious faith turned him against science, education and free speech? Few understood his reasons for opposing evolution.

            As a young man, Bryan had been open-minded about the origins of man. But over the years he became convinced that Darwin’s theory was responsible for much that was wrong with the modern world. “The Darwinian theory represents man as reaching his present perfection by the operation of the law of hate,” Bryan said, “Evolution is the merciless law by which the strong crowd out and kill off the weak.” He believed that the Bible countered this merciless law with “the law of love.”

            Bryan was progressive in politics and a conservative in religion. According to biographer Lawrence Levine, “Bryan always mixed religion and politics. He couldn’t conceive of one without the other because religion to him was the basis of politics. Without religion there could be no desire to change in a positive way. Why should anyone want to do that?”


            1) The trial originated not in Dayton but in the New York offices of the American Civil Liberties Union, for it was this organization that ran an announcement in Tennessee newspapers, offering to pay the expenses of any teacher willing to test the new Tennessee anti-evolution law.

            2) When a group of Dayton leaders decided to take advantage of this offer, their main reason was not so much defense of religion as it was economics, for they saw the trial as a great means of publicity that would attract business and industry to Dayton.

            3) Others responsible for the trial were the media, who worked hard to persuade Bryan and Darrow to participate in the trial.

            4) John T. Scopes was not a martyr for academic freedom. He volunteered to help test the law even though he could not remember ever teaching evolution and probably never did since he was a mathematics teacher and a coach and had only briefly substituted in biology. He was never jailed, nor did he ever take the witness stand in the trial. The people of Dayton liked him, and he cooperated with them in making a test case of the trial.

            5) William Jennings Bryan was not out to get Scopes. Bryan thought the Tennessee law a poor one because it involved firing an educator, and he offered to pay Scopes’ fine if he needed the money. 6) Bryan was familiar with Darwin’s works, and he was not against teaching evolution–if it were presented as a theory, and if other major options, such as creationism, were taught.

            7) The trial record discloses that Bryan handled himself well and when put on the stand unexpectedly by Darrow, defined terms carefully, stuck to the facts, made distinctions between literal and figurative language when interpreting the Bible, and questioned the reliability of scientific evidence when it contradicted the Bible. Some scientific experts at the trial referred to such “evidence” of evolution as the Piltdown man (now dismissed as a hoax).

            8) Bryan and his wife were on good terms, and she did not admire Clarence Darrow. Scopes dated some girls in Dayton but did not have a steady girlfriend

            9) The defense’s scientific experts did not testify at the trial because their testimony was irrelevant to the central question of whether a law had been broken, because Darrow refused to let Bryan cross-examine the experts, and because Darrow did not call on them to testify. But twelve scientists and theologians were allowed to make statements as part of the record presented by the defense. 10) The topic of sex and sin did not come up in the trial. Neither did Bryan believe that the world was created in 4004 B.C. at 9 a.m.

            11) Instead of Bryan’s being mothered by his wife, he took care of her, for she was an invalid.

            12) The people of Dayton in general and fundamentalist Christians in particular were not the ignorant, frenzied, uncouth persons the play pictures them as being.

            13) Scopes was found guilty partly by the request of Darrow, his defense lawyer, in the hope that the case could be taken to a higher court.

            14) Bryan did not have a fit while delivering his last speech and die in the courtroom (16).Report

            • “The Darwinian theory represents man as reaching his present perfection by the operation of the law of hate,” Bryan said,

              The man obviously never took the time to read Darwin.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                According to biographer Lawrence Levine, “Bryan always mixed religion and politics. He couldn’t conceive of one without the other because religion to him was the basis of politics. Without religion there could be no desire to change in a positive way. Why should anyone want to do that?”

                Bryan never appeared to have read any political philosophy, either.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to James Hanley says:

                The underpinning of the Nazi ubermensch ideal was strictly Darwinian, as was the Japanese with their “lessers” in the rest of the Orient. But you should have known that if you knew anything about your profession. Law of Hate indeed – as applied.Report

              • Murali in reply to wardsmith says:

                The underpinning of Nazi ubermensch ideal sounds more Nietzche than Darwin*. The Japanese occupation was not so much racially motivated, but just plain old nationalism, greed and cupidity.

                *Also, population genetics shows why eugenics is a futile program.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Murali says:

                What Murali said.

                One of the things few people seem to grasp is that Darwinian evolution is just about change in species over time. Fitness refers only to success in reproduction. The concept of fitter races, especially with that fitness being based on some normative quality of the race, is wholly un-Darwinian.

                One of the grimly humorous elements of the earlyb20th century was American policy makers worried that if Chinese were allowed into the U.S. they would outbreed the supposedly fitter whites. Like Bryan, they weren’t reading Darwin, either.Report

            • Alan Scott in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Gee, Tom. If “Inherit the wind” gets you to describe it as stupid and lying and respond with a bullet point list, I’d hate to see your take on Henry V.

              It’s a fictional dramatization. Matthew Harrison Brady isn’t supposed to represent WJB, he’s supposed to represent Joseph McCarthy.

              After all, by 1955, The theory of evolution was established, accepted fact.Report

              • Alan, my experience is that not 1 person in 100 knows Inherit the Wind is bunkum, designed to ridicule and minimize William Jennings bryan and religious belief. I had hoped some people might enjoy a glimpse at the actual truth about William Jennings Bryan, and perhaps become a bit less ungentle about the theologico-philosophical grounds for opposing modernity and “scientism” as essentially dehumanizing, grounds which don’t easily fit into our current left-right continuum.

                And I’m tired today of explaining everything thrice and constantly digging out my point from under a pile of quibble and banality. Forgive me.Report

              • Alan, my experience is that not 1 person in 100 knows Inherit the Wind is bunkum, designed to ridicule and minimize William Jennings Bryan and religious belief.

                The list of movies that change history for dramatic effect is nontrivial, and I suspect more of the ones that were actually made were made to make money more than anything else.

                Sorry, that comes across tortured.

                I agree with your central premise that Scopes, et. al. would be better served in the collective hive mind of America were people more familiar with the actual story than the movie, though, for certain.

                I’ll note: Bryant as pictured in the movie is a fictional version of Bryant. But that fictional version of Bryant does exist out there, Tom. There are real people in the world who object to the teaching of evolution who are just like that.Report

              • Inherit the Wind is indefensible caricature, and what it does to William Jennings Bryan is a particular sin against history.

                And the jerk preacher, the complely fabricated Claude Akins character, is even more caricature dumped on top as if the authors hadn’t already hit history over the head with a two-by-four.

                The actual transcript of the trial is quite interesting, more interesting, certainly.

                Darrow–Great applause from the bleachers.
                Bryan–From those whom you call “Yokels.”
                Darrow–I have never called them yokels.
                Bryan–That is the ignorance of Tennessee, the bigotry.
                Darrow–You mean who are applauding you? (Applause.)
                Bryan–Those are the people whom you insult.
                Darrow–You insult every man of science and learning in the world because he does believe in your fool religion.
                The Court–I will not stand for that.

                Q–Then, when the Bible said, for instance, “and God called the firmament heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day,” that does not necessarily mean twenty-four hours?
                A–I do not think it necessarily does.
                Q–Do you think it does or does not?
                A–I know a great many think so.
                Q–What do you think?
                A–I do not think it does.
                Q–You think those were not literal days?
                A–I do not think they were twenty-four-hour days.
                Q–What do you think about it?
                A–That is my opinion–I do not know that my opinion is better on that subject than those who think it does.
                Q–You do not think that ?
                A–No. But I think it would be just as easy for the kind of God we believe in to make the earth in six days as in six years or in 6,000,000 years or in 600,000,000 years. I do not think it important whether we believe one or the other.


              • Alan Scott in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                In my experience, Tom, people either know of WJB for his presidential campaigns and bi-metallism, or not at all. His inherit the wind caricature doesn’t really make the radar. Which isn’t really suprising, because the play uses a fictional name.Report

              • Alan, our own commenter New Dealer depicted Bryan so in this very thread!

                William Jennings Bryan was the Christian Left of his day. It is too bad we remember him for his downfall during the Monkey Trials.


                I consider Mr. Dealer above average in both intelligence and erudition. Further, whatever 99 out of 100 know of the Monkey Trial is surely from that unfortunate movie.

                That William Jennings Bryan was standing up for the sacred dignity of man against modernity and “scientism” has clearly been lost to history.

                Which is why I mentioned it, in the hope that perhaps the truth will out, and a very necessary philosophical discussion will rise again.


              • DensityDuck in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                People remember that Bryan was “more interested in the Rock of Ages than the age of rocks” the same way they remember that Columbus discovered the Earth was round, and that Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house.Report

          • NewDealer in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

            Maybe originally. This was certainly true for Byron. He loathed Social Darwinism.

            Now many of them seem to be social darwinists in their own right.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to NewDealer says:

              Now many of them seem to be social darwinists in their own right.

              Indeedy. That’s where the idea of “bootstraps” and “job creators” and “rugged individualism” come from.Report

  20. greginak says:

    awwww poor widdle job creator got his fefe’s hurt when his peasants didn’t do what they were told. This would be funnier if he wasn’t fishing over actual people instead of just knocking over his tower of blocks like a cranky toddler.Report

  21. Michael Cain says:

    Dirt cheap natural gas prices. CAIR requirements (and what a legal tangle that is) for reduced NOx, SOx, and fine particulates are in force, so utilities throughout the eastern half of the country are closing older less-efficient coal plants rather than retrofit them with new emissions controls. Several new mines have come on line in Illinois in the last few years, most of them either owned by or under very long-term contracts with, specific utilities; those utilities are no longer in the market for Murray’s coal. In Utah, California is probably as big a player as the federal government. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power gets more than 25% of its electricity from a coal-fired plant in Utah, but the mayor has committed to being coal-free by 2020.Report

    • Will H. in reply to Michael Cain says:

      Makes for a good story.
      Doesn’t explain this though:

      Highlights for 2011:

      U.S. coal production in 2011 increased slightly from 2010, driven by export demand, to roughly 1.1 billion short tons.
      Production in the Western Region, which includes Wyoming, totaled 587.6 million short tons, a 0.7 percent decline from 2010.
      In 2011, productive capacity of coal mines increased by 2.5 million short tons to 1.3 billion short tons.
      The average number of employees in U.S. coal mines increased 6.3 percent to 91,611.
      Domestic coal consumption of metallurgical coal by the coking industry rose 1.6 percent to 21.4 million short tons.
      The average sales price of coal increased 15.2 percent to $41.01 per short ton.


      • Stillwater in reply to Will H. says:

        I’m confused by this Will. Michael Cain gave a different reason for why Murray might be downsizing some of his operations (that natural gas is increasingly being used for electricity generation) than Murray offered (Obama’s Satanic Collectivism). Then you write it’s a “good story” but conflicts with the evidence. (Even tho there is plenty of evidence that, well, natural gas gaining favor out east.)

        What part of Michael Cain’s comment are you objecting to, and how does that relate to explaining Murray’s decision?Report

        • Will H. in reply to Stillwater says:

          There’s more to the value of a company than the value of the commodity behind it.
          Whether Mr. Murray’s company is solvent or not is a separate issue form the price of coal or the market for it.
          It’s just not the way that companies work.

          Secondly, there’s more at issue with determining the fuel for a power plant than just price & availability.
          It matters a lot more whether it’s a load station or a peaking facility.
          Gas is the natural choice for a peaking facility, but it’s just not as efficient for a load station.
          I’ve never seen a gas-fired load station. A dual-fuel co-gen, but not a stand-alone load station.

          My understanding is that the NONOX catalyst allows nat. gas to burn about 80 degrees or so cooler than it would otherwise, and that’s why the NOX doesn’t form.
          Couple this with the efficiency demands of super-critical boiler technology, and it doesn’t seem to work.

          I know they can re-design those things into co-gens (as the one in Taylorville, Ill., never built), but typically that’s not the case.
          More often, the waste water is piped to another facility for use.Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to Will H. says:

            I’ve never seen a gas-fired load station. A dual-fuel co-gen, but not a stand-alone load station.

            Texas has used NG-fired boilers for base load generation for decades. Siemens and GE began building NG-fired turbines suitable for base load use 20-25 years ago. In the US, such turbines have mostly been used in the West to meet large demand for new base load capacity. I live about 30 miles down the road from a big (965 MW) combined-cycle NG-fired base-load power station. In the East, you’re right that NG has been used mostly for peaking and intermediate load-following generation.Report

            • Will H. in reply to Michael Cain says:

              All modern power plants are combined-cycle.
              And those function as the standard gas turbine.
              Gas turbines are typically blast turbines; ie, forced air.
              You don’t get the heat to power a super-critical boiler.

              That’s sort of what makes them appropriate for peaking facilities.
              Gas heats up real quick. A boiler with any amount of volume takes some time. Saturated steam gives a phenomenon known as “steam hammer.” It can put the fear of God in you.

              A typical coal-fired plant will have 2 or 3 HRSGs per turbine, and gas-fired plants have one for each turbine.

              Anyway, those gas plants can be used for baseload. It’s just not what they’re designed for.

              And I hope you’re not talking about Encina, because that one’s a peaking facility for San Onofre.

              While the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is shut down for extensive repairs, all five turbines in the 58-year-old Encina Power Station in Carlsbad have been fired up, an attorney for the plant’s owner said.

              Encina’s five turbines run only occasionally, but a three-month outage at San Onofre has pressed the 965-megawatt, natural gas-fired plant into service.


              • Michael Cain in reply to Will H. says:

                We’re clearly using terminology to mean very different things. I’ll run through what I mean.

                Combined cycle: gaseous fuel burns in a gas turbine (ie, modified jet engine), turbine exhaust used as the heat source for a conventional steam cycle. With NG as the fuel, ~60% thermal efficiency. Some plants using gas turbines include the HRSG. Pure peaking plants often don’t. Some gas-fired plants have no gas turbines, only boilers and steam turbines, and are not combined-cycle.

                Integrated gasifier combined cycle: solid fuel heated under controlled conditions to produce gas (typically a CO-H2 syngas mixture) that runs through a combined cycle system. Thermal efficiency 50-60%. TTBOMK, no commercial IGCC plants in operation.

                Ultracritical or supercritical: independent of heat source, a cycle that operates at temperatures and pressures so that there’s no gas-liquid transition in the working fluid. Thermal efficiency in the 40-50% range. New coal-fired plants do this (eg, Xcel’s Comanche Plant unit 3 in Colorado, but not units 1 or 2 at the same facility). Can’t (currently, as you note) use a combined-cycle turbine exhaust as the heat source.

                Then there’s the vast majority of the rest of the thermal power plants (nukes, sub-critical coal, turbine-only peaking gas). Thermal efficiency 30-40%.

                To review: no commercial solid fuel (eg, coal IGCC) combined cycle plants; some combined cycle gas plants; some new super-critical and ultra-critical plants, but none of them are combined cycle. I’m willing to be educated on the subject, but your statement that “all modern power plants are combined-cycle” seems silly. Gas plants with turbines designed for base load operation are an interesting combination. You can bring the turbine part up quickly (as you note), but the follow-on steam cycle takes hours to get going. To get high efficiency (on the order of 60%) out of them requires using them for base load, or at least intermediate load, generation. Maintenance schedules for such turbines are less concerned with how long they operate than with how many up-down cycles they experience.

                I note, because I think it’s politically important in the long run, that the proportions of what you find in different parts of the country are quite different. Western Interconnect generating capacity is newer on average than in the Eastern, the fuel mix is very different, and both the absolute scale and the per-capita scale of the problems in each are very different. Suppose that a political goal were set to eliminate, in each of the three interconnect regions, over the next 20 years, nuclear power and 50% of coal power. I would argue that such a goal is challenging but feasible in the Western Interconnect; in the Eastern, it’s impossible.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Michael Cain says:

                I can accept that there may well be a difference in terms.
                But including Kansas City and Omaha as “Eastern cities” doesn’t seem quite right to me.
                But then, to everyone in Daytona, from Pensacola to Naples is the “West Coast.”

                What you’re talking about there is old technology.
                Those things need to be cut out and shipped to South America.
                These days, things run a bit different.

                Every gas turbine will have a HRSG.
                It’s an environmental hazard not to.
                It’s more efficient to recirculate that heated air through the turbine.
                Thermal mass, and all that.

                I spent a good part of last year at the IGCC facility for Duke Energy in Edwardsport, Ind.; the third coal-burner I’ve worked on. I was on the power block (where the HRSGs are at) and as QA on that one.
                The other two were CBEC-4 and ERGS; both Hitachi super-critical projects.
                I did some of the instrumentation on CBEC-4, and I set the sensors coming off of the turbine main steam. I also did some mods to the slurry piping. Revision 9 was finalized according to my specs. (Part of that is that they didn’t want a revision past 9)
                And again emissions on ERGS.
                So, I thought I was a natural for the IGCC. Boy, was I ever surprised!
                I had to learn something new on the fly.
                Comes with the territory.

                Anyway, those HRSGs for the IGCC are definitely combined-cycle.
                The bearings are encased in a nitrogen bath to pull the moisture out.

                The other issue is 9-Cr steel.
                That’s really what made large-scale super-critical units feasible.
                It wasn’t developed until the 90’s.

                Too much valve deterioration with the steam hammer at those pressures.
                But that’s one reason why retrofitting old units is a bad idea, compared to building new.
                Not to mention sliding-pressure boiler operation.
                There’s too much built into a new unit that can’t be done to an older one.Report

              • Lyle in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Actually nuclear plants have a lower thermal efficency as their max temp is lower due to various fuel elements and the like and the max temp they can stand. Nuclear runs a max of say 32% while as noted the newest coal plants run 36 to 40 % with super critical designs up to 45% or so. (Note this excludes the High temp gas cooled reactors which have failed to work in real life).Report

      • George Turner in reply to Will H. says:

        India signed a huge contract to buy coal from Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, which will help keep CO2 emissions intact or accelerating while the US switches more to natural gas.

        And now that the election is over, Obama just put 2,500 more square miles of the West off limits to energy production. “Take that! Colorado!”Report

        • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

          Both you guys seem to be saying that Murray has no economic rationale to fire employees, so he’s really Galting them. Firing them out of principled protest and all. Just wanted to get clear on it.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

          No he didn’t. In point of fact, despite the screams of protest, even more areas in Colorado are now open for coal mining. And do me a favour, would you? Let’s call a spade a spade — and a coal mine a coal mine. Thanks. Energy Production is just a cheezy euphemism.

          Although the West Elk coal mine is underground, safe mining there requires that methane venting wells be drilled above the mine. The West Elk mine spews millions of cubic feet of methane pollution every day. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times more heat trapping ability than carbon dioxide. Forest Service and EPA data show the amount of methane vented at West Elk could heat a city about the size of Grand Junction. But the Forest Service has refused to require the mine to capture, burn, or reduce any of the mine’s methane pollution.

          “This is a lose-lose-lose proposition,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Coordinator for WildEarth Guardians. “The public loses their mountain backcountry, loses millions of dollars from wasted methane, and loses because of more coal pollution. The Forest Service needs to stand up to Big Coal, but now with a weaker Colorado Rule in place, this kind of destructive expansion could unfortunately happen again and again and again.”

          Roger Singer, Sierra Club Senior Representative in Colorado, added: “The Forest Service has ignored established roadless forest protections that help mitigate climate disruption, and also enjoy overwhelming public support. This decision is especially poorly timed, coming just two days after the American people re-elected President Obama, who has helped establish the U.S. as the global leader in reducing carbon pollution.”Report

        • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

          Okay, I’ll be more specific. He put 1.6 million acres (2500 square miles) off limits to shale-oil development. I’m sure further bans and restrictions will be flooding out of the EPA in the next few months, since they’d spent almost a year holding up new regulations because of the election.Report

          • First, in technical discussions, the terms “shale oil” and “oil shale” mean two different things. Shale oil is actual crude oil found in low-porosity rock like shale. For example, the stuff being drilled for in North Dakota. Oil shale is kerogen-bearing rock. The Dept. of the Interior decision was with respect to oil shale, not shale oil.

            There are millions of acres of private land with high-quality oil shale — but despite dozens of different patented processes, no one has figured out a way to produce commercial quantities of liquid fuels from the stuff at a price that makes it profitable. Conventional approaches (eg, mining and retort heating) are generally limited by the availability of water. More exotic methods (eg, Shell’s in-situ process) tend to be limited by the availability of electricity. I had a chance to ask some Shell engineers questions after a presentation at the Colorado School of Mines a few years back. The electricity needed for a million-bbl-per-day operation using their best proposed in-situ method is quite close to all of the electricity currently generated in Colorado. Earlier this year, one of the big oil companies gave up their federal oil-shale research lease, saying only that they had better places to put their research dollars.

            It is unlikely that oil shale — kerogen-bearing rock — is ever going to play a major role in US energy supplies.Report

            • wardsmith in reply to Michael Cain says:

              To be clear Michael, Shell’s ICP process has to be one of the least energy efficient mechanisms to date. I’ve been to Oil Shale Symposiums in Golden, I know a thing or two about this myself. There are certainly other methods available that don’t have the energy footprint that Shell’s has.

              Meanwhile Harold Vinegar has moved to Israel and is perfecting the ICP process there, potentially Israel could be energy self-sufficient in a decade if not exporting oil.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Michael Cain says:

              It is unlikely that oil shale — kerogen-bearing rock — is ever going to play a major role in US energy supplies.

              I approve this comment. I’ve been out here in oil shale country for almost 30 years, and the profitability of extracting it is always just around the corner. Part of the problem in extracting it, I’m sure – and as you allude to – is that it’s an energy intensive process. So the cost of extraction will map onto the price of extracted almost linearly.Report

            • Roger in reply to Michael Cain says:

              Thanks Michael,

              I never realized there was a distinction between the two terms. I assumed shale oil and oil shale were being used as synonyms. Huge difference based upon word order.Report

          • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

            Part of the problem with bringing any such operation online is that even if the technique is viable, the government will halt development and all the R&D and investment will be wasted.

            Unlike Carter, who wanted to wean us away from foreign oil by using non-conventional fuels like tar sands, the current administration views cheap energy as the problem and green energy as the goal. The difficulties this causes are numerous. At present natural gas is competitive with coal for electicity generation, but four or five years ago it would’ve cost three to five times as much. Four or five years from now – it might cost three to five times as much, depending on production and demand, and whether the White House fracking czar succeeds in her mission to ban the technique.

            Coal has very, very stable prices because we know where it is, how much it will cost to get it, and anyone can stockpile it by dumping it on the ground. Gas has highly unstable prices because you can’t store it without spending a fortune.

            If the administration could figure out how to power our economy with FUD everything would be peachy, but conventional energy providers and investors don’t like the situation, except for the high price for oil.Report

            • zic in reply to George Turner says:

              the current administration views cheap energy as the problem and green energy as the goal.

              I don’t think you’ve got this quite right, George. First off, Obama campaigned (much to my dismay) on clean coal. Really.

              Second, I think there’s a difference between ‘cheap energy’ and energy where the real cost is actually built in to the market price. There’s an awful lot of ‘cheap energy’ burned where the actual costs, the unintended consequences, were never worked in to the price consumers paid for that energy. Lot of energy that’s been rent seeking for some time, now.

              If there’s any truth to what you’re saying, you might try thinking about it as a long overdue market correction.Report

            • zic in reply to George Turner says:

              And George, I live down pipe of those coal-burning electrical generators. I know first hand about the rent seeking.

              Please, come to Maine. Go trout fishing. We’ve brooks streaming with rainbow trout. I know a half-dozen folk who make* a living as Maine Guides who take sports fishing in the outback.

              But don’t eat too many of them. Mercury poisoning isn’t a pretty thing.

              *their jobs are being seriously threatened by the ongoing mercury contamination of our waterways from coal burning plants.Report

              • Kim in reply to zic says:

                you actually have creeks fresh enough to fish? damn. I’m Jealous. We have oil in our creeks, makes ’em shinier than anything, but not good eatin’Report

            • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

              Bubble the high-temperature exhaust gases through molten tin and it’ll clean that mercury right up. If you can convince India and China to do the same, mercury should drop back to the normally high levels found in fish ever since fish evolved, since world-wide natural mercury emissions are about 80 times higher than is coming from all the coal plants in North America. And of course, coal plants in China and India emit six times as much mercury into the atmosphere as ours do.Report

              • Russell M in reply to George Turner says:

                what i seem to get from george is why should we do anything? if we cant force china and india to live by our standards then there is no point.

                thats the same logic that says raising taxes 4% on those at top will not cute the whole yearly deficit so it is pointless. why must every solution to any problem cure the entirety of problems? fixing our own would be a good step and show some of that leadership stuff.Report

              • Scott in reply to Russell M says:


                Their emissions are many more times ours so our changes don’t mean anything, they just degrade our way of life. If you are so naive to think that our changes are going to be interpreted as “leadership” that inspires them to do anything I don’t know what to say.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

                Our changes are meaningful. We live downwind from our own power plants and our emissions reductions mean that much less pollution enters our water supply.

                But let’s not condescend to these seemingly less-developed nations. Their citizens aren’t stupid. Those countries will clean up their act and if we have any sense, we’ll sell them the solutions to do so. Forget this Leadership angle. It’s a matter of not shitting out organometallics onto our own dinner plates.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

                The problem is the vast number of people who say that USA emissions aren’t just USA’s problem, but the entire world’s problem. And yet somehow China and India don’t cause that problem.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Oh Duck. We know the fallout patterns of American coal fired plants. It’s not the world we’re saving, it’s our own water supply.

                And will you just shut up when you don’t know something? Thanks in advance.Report

              • Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

                California sees China’s emissions. Fromt he DESERT. Sands bring a lot fo particulate. So, how do you regulate a desert? You don’t, compadre.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

                BlaiseP, I’m not the one you need to be arguing with. You’re saying that USA emissions are the USA’s problem rather than a whole-world problem and I’m agreeing with you. The people who wrote the Kyoto Accord feel otherwise.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

                Here’s the problem with mercury: uptake into the biomass is a function of the fraction of methylmercury. You get methylation in a high temperature reaction and the concomitant acid rain facilitates uptake into the biomass. It’s a two-part problem. Well, there are three parts to it because you need a sulphate reaction for it to enter, but thanks to the sulphur in coal, it’s brought along for the ride.

                Mercifully, I’m preaching to the choir here: you clearly know what needs doing to solve the problem.

                The higher up the food chain we go, the more concentrated the methylmercury becomes. It’s appearing in astonishing concentrations in tuna. Every sample of tuna now contains mercury. EPA says the threshold is 1.000 ppm but we’re seeing cans of tuna coming through with 0.774 ppm. It’s getting nasty out there in the open ocean.Report

  22. LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

    Criticizing Mr. Murray is too much like shooting fish in a barrel. When even a self-professed libertarian thinks you are a selfish arrogant asshole, you know you have crossed some sort of boundary.

    But, like Jason, I look at Murray’s actions, from the standpoint of an adherent of one of Murray’s belief systems, and am aghast.
    As a Christian, my stomach turns when I hear his spiteful wicked invocations of Divine justification for his actions. My answering prayer would be, “Dear Jesus, protect me from your followers!”

    And like Jason, I wonder at the monstrous beast that results when people cherrypick sections of the belief system to create something that conveniently allows them to act in wickedness with impunity.

    But unlike Jason, Christians have about 2,000 years head start in this matter. Since Jesus died, people have been torturing His words to mean what they don’t, and to get His blessing on every act of wickedness imaginable.

    This is why (most of us) Christians recognize that religion works best when it is not allowed to hold temporal power. It doesn’t work well in a pluralistic society, where some follow it and some don’t.

    Objectivism and its economic offsprin, libertarianism have a similar failing. In a world where every single person was motivated by faithful adherence to their principles, all would be well.

    So unlike Jason, I am not surprised by Murray’s actions- we’ve seen it before, and will always have people like him around. Murray is exactly the sort of person who would rise to power in a libertarian world.Report

    • How would he do in one run by Republicans and Democrats?Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird says:

        He at least has to pay his workers a reasonable wage and follow some rules and regulations that he himself hasn’t decided on. As LWA said, sure bad people gain power and money in our current society. Most of them would have even more power in Libertarian Dreamworld.Report

        • I love these claims that in a libertarian world the really bad people would rise to power. No explanation is actually proffered for just why or how this would happen.

          Would the selection process for those who have authority be different in a libertarian world, in a way that gives bad people more of an advantage than they have now? Perhaps you non-libertarians can explain to the libertarians what process they’re going to create that would have that effect?

          Or do you not actually know, but it doesn’t stop you from talking anyway? I mean, nobody actually has to know anything before they criticize somebody else’s beliefs, do they?Report

          • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

            If Libertarianism is defined as “getting rid of all the bad government and keeping all the good government” then there’s no way to ever show what you’re asking.

            If libertarianism is defined as “maximizing liberty and freedom for individuals by limiting government to the barest minimum” there’s no way to ever show what you’re asking.

            If it’s defined as skepticism about government, there’s no way to show it either.

            Even if it’s minimally defined as “limiting the exercise of coercion”, there’s no way to show it.

            But if a person thinks part of the role of government is to constrain the bad guys from behaving badly, then it seems to me the onus is on the libertarian to disabuse that person of their belief, and show that limiting government won’t, on balance, increase the power of the bad guys.

            I’m not saying it can’t be done. But, James, I don’t think you spend an awful lot of time doing that. Instead, you just like to criticize people for misrepresenting libertarianism.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

              Or the shorter version: one conception of libertarianism logically entails ; (evidence be damned) that the bad guys don’t win. Another conception of libertarianism (the dark side of libertarianism, if you will) is that it’s advocated precisely so the bad guys win.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Personally, I think it’s tacky to point at something like “an actual bad guy who actually exists” and say “well, he’d be even worse under the system my opponents advocate”.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Take it up with James. He’s the one you want to argue with.Report

              • But he’s not arguing with me; I’m in agreement with what he says.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

                Imagine how many people would have been fired if Romney were elected!Report

              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                But see my earlier comment. You haven’t disabused people who think otherwise of that fact. I think that burden is on you guys.

                There’s two parts to this. One is criticizing people for misrepresenting libertarianism. Another is criticizing people for accepting one of the two conceptions of libertartianism I outlined above and then thinking both of those lead to more bad guys winning. (One because it’s what’s otherwise “bad” is defined away; the other because it’s … well … the bad guys winning.)Report

              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                That’s kind of confusing, but Alabama just lost to the A&M!!!Report

              • I’m ecstatic Akabama lost. I’m not ecstatic that you keep saying placing the burden on your opponents. That’s as chicken-shit as an SEC diploma.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                If there is no burden, then you can’t criticize people for misrepresenting libertarianism. They get they’re view. You get yours.

                But if your view is defined as making it definitionally impossible for bad guys to win, then I think you’ve eliminated empirical evidence from coming into play. And you have a theory that can’t be refuted.

                Cannot fail, in other words.Report

              • Jesus, Stillwater, my point is that your side has a burden, too! Is that really so hard? My point in response to Jesse was that he had a burden and didn’t even try to meet it.

                And then you jump in and claim that I have the burden. I wasn’t even making an affirmative argument, for god’s sake. But you attack me for not meeting a burden in an argument I didn’t make, and apparently totally excuse Jesse of needing to meet any burden in an argument he did make!

                “But if your view is defined as making it definitionally impossible for bad guys to win, …”

                But, see, I didn’t make any such argument. Go back and look at Jesse’s argument and see if maybe he’s making a definitional argument. Then ask yourself why you’re jumping all over me and giving him a free pass.

                Seriously, what the fuck do you think I’ve done that Jesse didn’t do?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                James, I don’t want this to get too confused-up, but my complaint is that you accused Jesse, in so many words, of deliberately misrepresenting libertarianism. I don’t think he did that. He expressed an honest sentiment about the theory-in-action. Or at least one version of the theory.

                So my complaint isn’t that what Jesse said was wrong, but that simply criticizing him for a belief he holds – one he holds sincerely, it seems to me – isn’t a good response to his comment. I don’t think the total response to complaints about libertarianism can simply be “you’re misrepresenting our views!”

                {{And then I got a little short tempered about it, as I sometimes do.}}Report

              • Roger in reply to James Hanley says:


                “But if a person thinks part of the role of government is to constrain the bad guys from behaving badly, then it seems to me the onus is on the libertarian to disabuse that person of their belief, and show that limiting government won’t, on balance, increase the power of the bad guys.”

                The libertarian ideal can be described as prohibiting coercive actions while allowing maximum freedom for people to experiment with actions which do not coercively harm others. It basically uses fire as a last resort to fight fire itself with the goal being to minimize fires. Coercion is a last resort to prohibit coercion.

                Once you recognize this, the argument Stillwater lays out falls apart. the problem isn’t government. Government is used by moderate libertarians as the solution to enforcing no coercion. The problem is when government becomes the source of coercion for reasons other than limiting coercion, or when government enters realms where it is incapable even in theory of optimizing efficient cooperation ala Hayek.

                There is a huge distinction between using government to suppress crime and other destructive zero sum interactions, and using government to foster coercive interactions or to manage economic affairs.

                It is not only possible to measure freedom as defined above, there are actually various competing measures that post the results annually and compare and contrast trends. And yes, those scoring better over time tend to be more prosperous.Report

              • Still, I’m sure both those versions exist. But obviously they’re not the only two. And of course I’ve never argued for the first one. So why does Jesse apparently getting a pass for arguing the second one.

                For the record, libertarians consistently argue for allowing less power to government. More optimistic libertarians think this will make government less attractive to bad guys. More pessimistic libertarians think ths will just mean that the inevitable bad guys will be have less power to abuse.

                I’m a bit mind-boggled that you pose a false dichotomy of libertarianisms, and that you apparently don’t know the rather basic claims outlined in the paragraph above. I’m willing to continue discussing libertarianism with you, but increasingly I get the feeling that you’re not bothering to listen. That you’re ignoring the arguments made and then claiming they’ve never been made. I don’t ask you to accept the arguments, but I do ask you to not say they haven’t been made.Report

              • zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                More optimistic libertarians think this will make government less attractive to bad guys. More pessimistic libertarians think ths will just mean that the inevitable bad guys will be have less power to abuse.

                Are there bad guys outside of government? If there’s not enough power to be had manipulating government, won’t they just find other ways to do the same? I’m trying not to read too much into this, but I can’t help but wonder if it implies all bad guys are enabled by government, not by being bad.

                And that’s quite irrational.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to zic says:

                Zic, some extreme libertarians seem to think that. I don’t, and I know Jason doesn’t.

                As to finding other ways, outside gov’t, to seek power, the options actually are more limited. As Max Weber defined the state, it has “a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.” It is the force in government that makes it particularly dangerous, and particularly attractive to bad folk. Compare the worst actions of people outside government to the worst actions of people inside government. Whatever Pol Pots, Maos, Stalins and Hitlers there are outside gov’t (and they are out there, of course), they just can’t do as much bad because they don’t have the means of the state at their disposal.

                This doesn’t mean the state’s force is all bad. It’s like fire–useful, even life-saving under certain conditions–but dangerous and always to be watched carefully, and always to be kept under control.

                That’s the advantage of democracy, of course. Despite the dangers of a tyranny of the majority, it gives us opportunity to recognize bad people and get rid of them before they gather real power. It’s also the advantage of a system of limited power–e.g, the Bill of Rights.

                So far liberals don’t disagree. But libertarians think the power of gov’t should be even more limited. (How much? Well, there’s not perfect agreement on that, just as liberals aren’t in perfect agreement on everything.)Report

              • zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                As to finding other ways, outside gov’t, to seek power, the options actually are more limited. As Max Weber defined the state, it has “a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.” It is the force in government that makes it particularly dangerous, and particularly attractive to bad folk.

                That’s a mighty big leap, from abusing power to using force for committing the likes of genocide. Whole lot of daylight in between.

                And there lies the problem; at least my problem. Because while I know it possible for government to be abused in the ways you suggest, I also know that government generally does much to stop the endless litany of smaller abuses bad men (and women) heap on the shoulders of others. Seems rather like throwing the baby out with the bath to me.

                Plus the nitty gritty of the details getting us from here to there; that’s actually an act of government; purposely planning to do less, to shrink, since size is the metric people seem most attached to.

                I don’t subscribe to ‘large’ government. As I’ve said before, competent government’s my goal; a government that responds to people’s needs to be able and equipped to help themselves; and a health debate about what those needs might be. See, from my perspective, when you invest in helping people so that they can help themselves, you get a return on that investment. Not always, but enough that it equals progress.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                The problem with all such statements resolves to “Less of what?” This evanescent twaddle about Less Government is just jimcrack soapbox yammering. Who wants More Government? Nobody, right up until the minute their rights are being trampled on. Then, of course, it’s back to that old tired refrain of “Force ‘n Fraud!”Report

              • There is indeed lots of daylight in-between. There’s African governments bulldozing homes poor people built on unused gov’t land because they can’t get access to any other land. There’s China’s government using forced abortions, and India’s using involuntary sterilization. There’s East Germany setting up a secret police network in which everyone is spying on everyone else. There’s N. Korea ensuring privation for all it’s citizens. There’s Zimbabwe turning one of Africa’s most fertile countries into an agricultural wasteland.

                Or there’s America enforcing the enslavement of Africans, then legally mandating discrimination against their descendants. Or supporting tyrannies and death squads in other countries. Or invading its southern neighbor and stealing half her territory. Or discriminating against black farmers in giving gov’t loans. Or letting black men die of syphilis instead of treating them. Or stealing Indian children from their parents. Or throwing people in prison and ruining their prospects in life for smoking pot. Or beating and pepper spraying peaceful protestors. Or shooting unarmed suspects on subway platforms. Or denying economic opportunity by creating licensing standards designed to protect existing service purveyors from competition.

                Understand, most libertarians don’t want to eliminate gov’t. They want it around to enforce against violence and fraud. But given the above, they’re less sanguine about whether in it’s current form it’s doing as much net good as its supporters think.Report

              • zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                Come on, James, how many of those are (modern) democracies? India?

                And while we’re still dealing with the racial resentment, at least we’ve managed to end slavery. A good while ago, too.

                So while it’s easy to build up a list of horrors, there’s actually been some progress.

                But the bigger question is how many of those horrors spring from incompetent government? China and India have both had population problems for a long, long time, and the lack of competence in promoting contraception decades ago root as much of their problem. East Germany’s spy networks are gone, and N. Korea is one of the two most economically isolated countries in the world. Zimbabwe’s problems root in colonialism and the ownership of land (majority owned by whites from that era of colonialism,) something that libertarians would respect as their private property rights.

                So you’ve pretty much failed to convince me of anything about the inherent evils of big government. Except one thing: The Bill of Rights; something devised by a government to limit itself, in response to concerns of its citizens.

                Size is meaningless. Competence, and responding to the will of the people, matters.Report

              • zic,

                I already said democracy helps. Please don’t overlook that.

                As to non-democracies, can you guarantee we’ll always remain a democracy and never join their ranks? I don’t argue for paranoia, but I do argue against complacency.

                As to the Bill of Rights, it was demanded by citizens as the price of acquiescence to the proposed new government. It was not a government initiative.

                Also, I notice in your dismissals that you ignore all the contemporary problems I note. “Oh, but we don’t do those things anymore!” Is not entirely persuasive when you gloss over the things we still do.

                Finally, yes, we are better than in the past. I’m asking that we continue even further on that path, rather than just being satisfied with how far we’ve come.Report

            • I see, Stillwater. The onus is on me to provide thorough explanation for not-X, but Jesse’s got no onus to provide an explanation for X.

              That’s a fun game. Allow me to play.

              Now, “if a person thinks part of the way government works is to give the bad guys cover and orotection fir behaving badly, then it seems to me the onus is on the liberal to disabuse that person of their belief, and show that increasing government won’t, on balance, increase the power of the bad guys.”

              “I’m not saying it can’t be done. But I don’t think Jesse spends an awful lot of time doing that. Instead, he just likes to criticize libertarianism.”Report

              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’m don’t think that’s right. Jesse thinks that limiting government will produce X. You think it won’t. In fact, you criticized him for thinking that!

                Presumably, you have reasons for that criticism, so you have reasons for believing that libertarianism won’t increase X. All I’m saying is that you owe it to Jesse to say what those reasons are.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                And of course, one suggestion I put on the table is that libertarianism is defined that way.Report

              • First person to make a claim is the first one who has to justify it. The person who questions them does not have to be the first to provide justification.

                Them’s the rules. Always has been that way. I’m bewildered by your attempt to reverse the sequence.

                Remember, you can now never ask someone to defend their claims unless you first defend yours (even if you haven’t made any!). Have fun following your own rule set.Report

              • And of course, one suggestion I put on the table is that libertarianism is defined that way.

                And that’s the only definition of libertarianism? The one we must use?

                And I’m supposed to accept this as an argument in good faith, and not a stacking of the deck?

                How much have you had to drink tonight?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Well, I am pretty excited about Alabama losing.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

            It’s a problem we’ll never have to face, James. A Libertarian Politician is a contradiction in terms.Report

          • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to James Hanley says:

            My point was that in a world favored by libertarians- weak government, strong property rights- the libertarian principles would almost instantly be destroyed, by people like Murray.

            Only libertarian theorists actually want to live according to libertarian principles.

            Actual practicing practicing people want money and power. If that means no taxes, great. If that means corporate subsidies, great as well.

            When I said Murray is the sort to rise to power in a libertarian world, I meant that in a world of weak government, he would make the government as large or as small as he wanted, depending on his financial interest at the moment.

            In answer to Jaybird, yes, he can also do that within our current system; and he isn’t alone. We’ve pointed out many times how business doesn’t have any fixed principle about the size of government; private interest want it to do whatever suits them at the moment.
            A weak government actually weakens the checking power of the marketplace by allowing private interest to destroy the marketplace.

            Yes, I know this is contrary to libertarian principles. But it doesn’t matter.
            As a political strategy, libertarianism lacks any method to force society to live according to its principles- so they will be jettisoned the moment we attempt it.Report

            • Well, perhaps 4 years of Obama will make the country into a place where Mr. Murray can’t do what Mr. Murray did.Report

            • Libertarians don’t necessarily want a weak government, just a limited government. A strong government is fine as long as it’s limited to its basic duties of police, courts and military.Report

              • MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

                I’m not sure what is so hard to understand about supporting a free market — not any particular businesses, per se, or even capitalism, necessarily, but a free market.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to MFarmer says:

                What is a Free Market, anyway?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I’d attempt an honest answer if I had any faith that the question was honestly posed. But given your standard approach in these debates, such faith would seem hopelessly misplaced.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

                There are a handful of black markets in inept totalitarian states that might qualify.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                But what’s the definition of “free market”? It seems to me the concept has lots of normative claims built into it. I don’t think there’s any agreement on what they are. We can be stipulative and all, but certainly “absence of government intervention” isn’t sufficient. Once government intervention is allowed, when does’ a market become “unfree”?

                Just enough and no more?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, I was kidding, but I’d say that it’s the end point of a continuum. Over here is the whole “Centralized Command” market (we’ve seen such that are a lot closer to that than “free”, right?) and over there is “free”.

                You could compare to “free people”. Some people are slaves, sure. Some people are “free”… but are they really free if they have to pay taxes, or pay a mortgage, or give the wife their paycheck when they walk in the door, or if they have a Magic:The Gathering habit? Who among us is truly free?

                Yeah, yeah. Sure. There’s “freer”.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Oh sure. I down with “freer”. But I don’t think anyone on this board is advocating for centralized command. We’re talking about subtleties on the edges of things. We all believe that consumer choice, and profit-motive, and entrepren… ahntrepahneur … that concept the French don’t have a word for, is a good thing.

                The paradigm of a free market is the purchase of an Ipod vs. an Walkman. But there are a lot of other types of markets. Does one paradigm fit them all? (I’m not suggesting that you think so.) So, it seems to me that the normative conception of what constitutes a free market is contextualized to a bunch of things, in particular, what type of market are we talking about, what is the centrality of that market in our economic system, what are the deleterious effects of acting withing that market, etc etc.

                I don’t think a single a priori determined conception of what constitutes a “free market” can accommodate all varied complexities which some people want that concept to cover.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Let’s presume, for the sake of argument, we could at least get as far along the path of wisdom as to dispense with that adjective “Free”. Markets will always require some degree of regulation, a point I’ve repeatedly made. And when I’ve made it, the self-described Libertarians have acknowledged, though with a good deal of patently ignorant grumbling, that the devil does lie in the details.

                From whence arises this cavilling about the honesty of my repeatedly posed question? Fact is, every time it’s come up, the Libertarians hereabouts have presented no logical argument against it.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to BlaiseP says:

                How do libertarians deal with externalities like pollution?

                I dump mercury in my ground water on my property, it flows into yours. How do you deal with that?

                I take you to court? What if I can’t afford that? (And isn’t that big government?). And how, exactly, does that remove mercury from my water?

                Wouldn’t it be easier to say “Don’t dump mercury into the ground water” or “dispose of hazardous chemicals in a safe way” so that we don’t HAVE a million identical lawsuits? And then a cleanup?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                From whence arises this cavilling about the honesty of my repeatedly posed question?

                with a good deal of patently ignorant grumbling

                That might have something to do with it.

                Seriously, Blaise, when have you ever actually shown good faith when libertarianism was being discussed?Report

              • George Turner in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I’ll add that the problem with libertarians is that they don’t think the library needs rules or a librarian, and the problem with liberals is they think the librarian should decide which books are worth reading, and then make everyone read those approved books.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Seriously, Blaise, when have you ever actually shown good faith when libertarianism was being discussed?

                I dunno. He’s a big fan of Hayek, if that means anything.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I take you far too seriously to quarrel with you at a personal level any more, James. If I have not demonstrated good faith with Libertarians, they have shown me nothing but the direst of contempt hereabouts. When anyone dares to corner you at a definitional level on the form and nature of Libertarianism, you have told us what it is not. What it is remains as tenuous and wispy as ever, for Libertarianism is defined on the basis of what it Is Not.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                How do libertarians deal with externalities like pollution?

                Please let me preface my answer by saying that I’m sick and tired if having to answer this question. Liberals repeatedly bring it up as though no libertarian could possibly have thought of it. And each time it’s answered, it’s only a matter of time before it’s brought up again.

                I don’t mean to snap at you Morat, but honestly this is an old canard.

                First, libertarians believe in property rights. Second, libertarians believe government should protect property rights. Third, an externality like you describe, your mercury flowing into my property, is a violation of property rights. So, fourth, libertarians believe government should protect my property from your mercury.

                How? However works. You’re down on using the courts, but that’s how most such things are already handled. If your septic system overflows and flows downhill into my yard, odds are my recourse is through the legal system

                A specific prohibition? Perhaps so, if it turns out that we need anything more than the general “keep all your s**t out of others’s yards” rule.

                Keep in mind that such prohibitions are neither cheap nor self-enforcing, so they’re not as simple as it seems. And if you’re so much wealthier than me that I might be helpless against you in court, you’re more likely to be able to lobby the rulemaker for a favorable rule than I am.

                So in general, you’ve chosen an area where libertarians don’t really have that much of a problem, although for some reason people always think they do. And for me specifically, I think the regime ought to be what most securely protects property rights. (Unfortunately, neither the tort system nor the regulatory system is flawless in doing so.)Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Property rights are entirely insufficient grounds for any legal action of this sort. If only more Libertarians had a grounding in law, this sort of naivete would be extinguished from intelligent discourse. There must be a prior regulation which prohibits the flow of toxic waste from anyone’s property to anyone else’s property. Someone must do the assay which would prove the tort, a regulated entity in point of fact.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I dunno. He’s a big fan of Hayek, if that means anything.

                Shucks, Stillwater. If those Libertarians would go back and read Hayek and take the man seriously, they’d be Liberals, every cotton-pickin’ one of them.

                They won’t, of course, any more than the self-proclaimed Marxists who never read Marx, surely the finest expositor of capitalism who ever lived.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:


                I disagree that I have not said what libertarianism is. I’m pretty sure that within the last six months or so I wrote a guest post about it. I have lousy Google fu or I’d provide a link.

                Besides, it’s perfectly legitimate to define something by exclusion. And the reason I so often do so s because so any folks here want to insist that libertarianism is so radically wild that ther’s a constant need to keep going, “not that, not that either, no, not that…” Someone says libertarians want corporations to have more political power, so we explain why that’s not true, then someone yells at us for saying what libertarianism isn’t, but not saying what it is. Jesus, you never really take time to just sit down and have a conversation where you actually listen.

                And since you guys aren’t exactly giving precise and definitive definitions of liberalism, I’m going to resort to my familiar complaint about League liberal privilege.

                But I’ll give you this, so long as you don’t take it as authoritative, complete or definitive.

                Free market: A market characterized by a lack of government imposed barriers to entry. There are no policies that protect rents for any participant in that market. Fraud is punishable. Negative externalities can be internalized without violating the freedom of the market. Example: people calling themselves consultants ans selling software services. Non-free examples: taxicabs, sugar.

                Libertarianism: liberals tend to distrust government regulation of people’s personal lives. Conservatives tend to distrust government regulation of markets. Libertarians tend to distrust both types of regulations. But unlike conservatives, who are often actually pro-business, libertarians are pro-market, distrusting businessmen just as Adam Smith did, but believing that competitive markets constrain their ability to thrive through bad behavior. Libertarians may, like Jason Kuznicki here recently, argue that personal liberties and economic liberties are not actually separate categories.

                Within that there are different varieties of libertarian, which is why it can’t be too tightly defined.

                Now, you all could immediately argue about why libertarians are wrong about X, but truthfully that will reinforce my belief that you’re all playing games and not actually listening; demanding an explanation, but not really wanting to take time to hear one; instead only wanting to find a point to criticize. As long as that’s the game there’ll continue to be false understandings on y’all’s part, and I’ll continue to say so.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Please let me preface my answer by saying that I’m sick and tired if having to answer this question. Liberals repeatedly bring it up as though no libertarian could possibly have thought of it.

                I’m gonna go rogue for a bit. It’ll be fun.

                I’ve commented before about this so stop reading when you know the story, but libertarians were, once upon a time, entirely opposed to regulating envirnonmental externalities. It was only because of liberals pushing the issue that libertarian critiques of environmental externalities were adopted. In fact, lots and lots (and lots) of libertarians were of a mind – once upon a time – that environmental externalities were a decisive refutation of the ideology.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Property rights are entirely insufficient grounds for any legal action of this sort. If only more Libertarians had a grounding in law, this sort of naivete would be extinguished from intelligent discourse. There must be a prior regulation which prohibits the flow of toxic waste from anyone’s property to anyone else’s property. Someone must do the assay which would prove the tort, a regulated entity in point of fact.

                Sorry, Blaise, you are just plain wrong. Two semesters of environmental law, my friend. The old tort of trespass is used to handle this even in the absence of a regulation. If you want to talk to me about a grounding in law, let’s have at it. Multiple law classes in grad school, including a law scool course on the history of the common law of England. I’ve taught con law as well. Sorry to be an ass about flashing my credentials, but if a software contractor’s going to accuse me of not having as much background in law, well, I’m not inclined to be coy. (That said, IANAL, and on nearly all issues you should take Burt’s word over mine.)

                Yes, someone must actually trace the plume. But there’s no inherent necessity that it be a regulated entity that does it.

                What actually turns out to be the big problem in these cases is proving harm and that’s not because of the legal or regulatory system but the difficulties of the science. We don’t have any good legal or political solutions to that.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                No, James, definition by exclusion is the province of theology. Islam does it. Maimonides did it. Libertarianism does not get a pass here. That Libertarianism has only chosen to oppose and not defend is an entirely deficient philosophical stance.

                Liberalism does have a definition. We believe in the phrase: “more perfect union”. Law must continually evolve to suit the needs of the body politic. We believe in the power of government to act on behalf of all the governed. It is OUR government, not THE government.

                Barriers to entry, my ass. Anyone can enter a market, provided he has the funds to do so and can establish his identity. It is the private sector, not the public, which prevents such entry and Liberals would stand up for anyone who was so prevented, hence our much speaking about minority businesses and equal pay for women and all other such regulations, so widely and ignorantly derided by the Libertarians, who view all such talk as Nanny State-ism.

                Distrust government regulation all you like. It’s paranoid and delusional thinking. Libertarians have an exceedingly evil track record opposing sensible regulations and don’t deny it.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                And I got to write the software which generated the test results, generating the PDFs for EPA for all of Pace Analytical‘s environmental testing. You are now on my turf, James.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “And I got to write the software which generated the test results”

                The guy who changes spark plugs is not the guy who decides how many cars the factory should build.Report

              • George Turner in reply to BlaiseP says:

                @Jame Hanley,

                Sorry James, but you have probably never said the word “Maimonides” in court. If you had, you’d have hooked up with the hot redhead with the long eyelashes. Blaise wins this one on basic hot readhead hookup grounds. Welcome to the post-Petraeus era.Report

              • George Turner in reply to BlaiseP says:

                A free market must be regulated or it isn’t free, because without some type of mutually agreed rule system it’s run by hucksters, cheats, and warlords.

                The rules the US uses are so intuitive that we don’t really notice them most of the time, since we all came up with them out of our sense of fair play, property, and our notions about how those should work, based on all the cases where a dispute arose.

                Since we don’t usually notice all the rules, because they seem like second-nature common sense, many people assume there isn’t a big rule system in place, and that a rule system isn’t really needed.

                Since we all generally abide by the rules, because they make sense and conform to our intuitive notions of fairness, we hardly need any enforcement, much less obvious, overbearing enforcement.

                The enforcement barely has to be there, and barely has to be visible, because everyone behaves like they were in a library, knowing there’s common-sense rules and a librarian. If the librarian leaves and a few punks start taking advantage of the lack of authority, some kids burn a pile of Harry Potter books because it seems like fun, a water balloon fight breaks out, and then everyone loots their favorite reads and goes running into the parking lot with an armload of stolen books.

                Sometime later they realize what the librarian was for, and it’s not just for reshelving as a public service.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

                Exactly. If a market is to be maximally free, it must first be a legitimate market, where winners and losers are separated. When that distinction is blurred, trouble begins.

                There is no such thing as a foolproof system. Fools are incredibly ingenious. In like manner, a criminal class is perpetually evolving, one step ahead of the regulators. It’s a biological problem, no different than the problems we now face with antibiotics. When the symptoms go away, the stupid patient stops taking the antibiotic, to the consternation of the medical community. The surviving infection grows resistant and new antibiotics must be found. Many infections such as gonorrhoea have become completely resistant.

                When I see a single Libertarian admit the obvious, that markets exist only because regulation makes them possible, that regulation must exist in direct proportion to risk, there will be two moons in the sky. I must have brought this statement up a hundred times. Not one of them buys into it.Report

              • When I see a single Libertarian admit the obvious, that markets exist only because regulation makes them possible,

                Markets pre-date regulation. They pre-date the invention of formal government. Rudimentary markets exist in the animal kingdom outside the human species.

                As soon as I see a liberal admit this obvious fact…Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                Exchange existed before regulation.

                Is that what you mean by the term “market”?Report

              • I should add, I’m glad there’s such a well designed regulatory scheme governing garage sales. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any.Report

              • Yes, exchange is a market. I exchange money for a car, thst’s market. I exchange a bottle of beer for my neighbor to mow my front lawn that’s a market.

                Obviously some markets are more complex than others. Some have less transparency, more imperfect information than others. But the claim that a market can’t exist without regulation is a historical fallacy.

                And it’s a logical fallacy to imply, as Blaise does, that if there is regulation then it’s not a free market. Free does not necessitate the absence of all regulation. But but by pretending it does, Blaise can think he’s struck a hard blow against libertarianism. All he’s really doing is punching a straw man. But I suppose it’s good exercise.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

                Barter may have existed. Markets didn’t. Hammurabi enacts the first laws on markets.Report

              • Barriers to entry, my ass. Anyone can enter a market, provided he has the funds to do so and can establish his identity.

                Yeah, the immigrant can enter the taxicab ownership business if he can pony up half a million or more to buy one a medallion, since the local government generally doesn’t make any more available,”

                What a stupid comment. Of course you can overcome a barrier to entry if you’ve already got the dough. But those aren’t the people we’re worried about now, are they?

                And barter is markets. You can try your best to limit the definition for convenience sake, but this is exactly why I say you don’t argue in good faith.

                And writing code doesn’t make you an expert in the history of the common law of trespass.

                I’m done with you now. I was right to blow you off in the first place.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

                Far be it from me to counter theoretical opposition with practical experience. The Duck says I trade on it. And it’s true, I do. That’s the difference between us, I suppose. You think exclusion is definition. I don’t. You think private litigation will serve in the absence of regulation. To which I’d reply, as would any sane judge “which law has been broken here?”

                I’d love to see you prosecute such a case on exclusionary merits.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                And it’s a logical fallacy to imply, as Blaise does, that if there is regulation then it’s not a free market.

                But that depends on the definition of “free market”. And I think that in turn depends on whether a person thinks that the type of freedom in question is a freedom to, or a freedom from. Personally, I think both libertarians and liberals (I wish I could include conservatives in on this, but they don’t appear to have any independent views on the matter) believe that a free market is a mix of both. The dispute is maybe located in where we place an emphasis.Report

              • Hey, Blaise, there you go. You ask for definition, I give it to you. Ans instead of thinking about and discussing definition, you’re just eager to explain why an idea is wrong. So as I said, you’re not interested in actually trying to understand what a libertarian believes; you only want me t say something ths you can jump to a criticism of.

                So don’t give me any more of this sincerity bullshit. You probably mean it for about as long as it takes to write the words, but it never lasts.Report

              • For fuck’s sake Stillwater, a definition of free market was asked for, and I gave one.

                That’s pretty much what economists believe and it’s what the non-crazy libertarians recieve. Of course it depends on the definition. But it sounds like you’re determined tonight to only use definitions that conveniently allow you to not let the libertarian do what you specifically asked; explain libertarianism.

                If that’s the game you wan to play, then I’m pretty damn disappointed. Go yank somebody else around if that’s yah kind of a-hole you want to be.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                James, if you think that rickety definition will stand up to scrutiny, then that might be part of our problem here. It’s a series of loosely phrased conditions on a market. That’s about it. Not a definition at all, since it misses a bunch of things we both agree are necessary conditions. Not a workable definition since it doesn’t narrow down our disagreements.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                Which is to say, neither you nor that definition have given a semantics to the “free” part of “free markets”.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                And on closer scrutiny, that’s what the definition is of: “markets”. Not “free” markets.Report

              • Still, If you think something’s missing then for fuck’s sake say what it is.

                Goddammit I said specifically it wasn’t a complete definition and now here you are complaining that it’s not complete. But you won’t specify what you think is missing.

                Stop being just a criticizer and actually engage, or just go to hell. Because you’re demanding that I do all the heavy lifting while you just sit back and object. Tell me why I shouldn’t just tell you to go fish yourself?

                Let’s start with the basic term market. When people exchange things of value based on supply and demand, there is a market.

                Do you agree? If not, explain, don’t just say there could be an explanation. Otherwise we’re through.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                Ahhh. Sure. I think we’re through.Report

              • My definition of free market was up above. I though that’s what you were referring to.you and BP asked for it, so gave it.

                That link was just a definition of the market, nonqualifier, in response to BP’s claim that a market can’t exist without laws.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                Do you mean the links? Cuz those leave out the crucial part of this discussion: regulation and third-party enforcement of regulations. And that’s what this whole discussion is about. Criminy, the definition you linked to didn’t even say anything about coercion. Surely that can’t be the definition you subscribe to. Can it?Report

              • Still, I should be more clear. BP claimed a distinction between barter and markets. As the link to the definition of market shows, barter is included in the definition of a market, so there is no such distinction.

                That’s all the link was supposed to show, no more, no less.Report

              • George Turner in reply to George Turner says:

                For my sake, we need to unindent this sub-thread.

                James is saying:

                Markets pre-date regulation. They pre-date the invention of formal government. Rudimentary markets exist in the animal kingdom outside the human species.

                and Blaise is saying that markets didn’t exist until Hammurabi. Statements about flea-markets and such.

                I think you’d both agree that you’re wrong. Throughout much of human history the ordinary people had markets, and the rulers had nothing to do with them, living in their cloistered worlds. The rulers would send a handmade out to “the market” to gather things for a feast, but had no idea about the structure, assumptions, rules, and whatnot that every one of us has used since we sold our first gazelle meat.

                It took forever for a ruler to realize what was going on, as he would just demand meat or wine and someone would go to the market, threaten somebody, and it would appear. It took just as long for a ruler to realize that the market was how many people spent their day, and it took longer still for a ruler to realize that the market had rules, and that they were enforced very harshly when circumstances called for it.

                So Blaise, if you don’t think markets were regulated until government did it, try screwing over a drug dealer. Not only are their hard, fast, and ironclad rules, but everyone from the footsoldiers to the kingpins will sometimes harshly enforce those rules just to prove that violations of the rule system will be punished in the harshest possible terms.

                The official government doesn’t even recognize that such rules exist, even though every cop knows exactly what the unofficial rules are, and can navigate the system and provide any illegal substance for any politician who requests it. Hamurabi was perhaps the first ruler to put down the rules in writing, but only because he was codifying a system whose origins are lost in the sands of time.

                So to James I say that markets defintely do not predate regulation, they just predate government regulation. Left to themselves they are regulated, in the final event, by the seller or buyer who’s willing to cut off people’s heads not to defy the market, but to enforce its rules. The last person who realizes that this is a rule is usually the sovereign, and once he realizes that his people will in fact cut of his head if he screws them in a market transaction, he recognizes the rules of the market – sometimes. Usually he makes war on it, and usually he wins, having a preponderance of force. That’s the big difference between Europe and America. All of our founders grew up shopping at the flea-market, and said it was good. Americans don’t actually know anything else.Report

              • Roger in reply to George Turner says:


                I almost agree.

                Human interaction and norms affecting these interactions co-evolved over millions of years biologically, and tens of thousands of years culturally.

                Humans evolved into a species which could accomplish more cooperatively than apart. However, to accomplish more, we had to evolve the emotional dispositions of we know of as a sense of justice, shame, pride, envy, fairness and so forth. From these innate foundations we learned culturally to build rules, norms, expectations, roles and institutions which supported cooperation.

                Exchange and rules of exchange coevolved like a chicken and an egg.

                Effective markets definitely require shared rules and norms and enforcement mechanisms. As the markets grew, the institutions also grew in sophistication. Regulation is a good idea in large markets, just as it is in organized sports. Over regulation is destructive to markets though, just as it is with sports. Once the playing field shifts from the actual field to the back room where rules are written, the sport becomes moot.

                Libertarians on this site have explained this process a hundred times to the current field of liberals. It isn’t that hard to grasp, though the left ( which i am very aware you are not a member of) seems to start from scratch on the discussion every day.

                Every day seems like Groundhog Day when we discuss free markets with the left.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

                From what I’ve seen from the Libertarian side of this argument, you’re really just a bunch of Liberals too ashamed to admit it. Markets and regulations co-evolved, I’m told, as if history hasn’t shown what happens when this society takes a big swig of the Libertarian Snake Oil of deregulation and markets self-destruct in a paroxysm of projectile defecation.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to George Turner says:

                Liberals who are old enough to remember when anti-anti-Communists called themselves “Liberals”.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to George Turner says:

                And old enough to remember when “Communist” meant George Marshall, Dean Acheson, and anyone who’d ever said nice things about labor unions or opined that Chiang Kai-shek was incompetent and Mao was likely to win.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to George Turner says:

                Saying that markets didn’t exist before civilization is like saying that gravity didn’t exist before Newton.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to George Turner says:

                That’s very true, Duck. We might say markets are the essence of civilisation.

                I like that business about Newton even more. Though that worthy gentleman showed us the laws of gravity, he explicitly said “Hypotheses non fingo” == I fake no hypotheses. He didn’t have an explanation for how gravity worked, merely that it obeyed some laws.

                Yet still, to this very day, we’ve got a certain unscientific class of jackasses who think Newton actually explained gravity.

                Libertarians think they’ve got an explanation for markets. Lots of merry myth-making about kings sending servant girls out for cabbages and other such horseshit hypotheses. You guys think you have this stuff all wrapped up. Deregulation Snake Oil is the cure to all our problems. You don’t have a clue, mostly because none of you have any money and therefore no market experience. But more damning, you haven’t read your Hayek, a prophet whose name you bring up in your babbling litanies but of whom you are baldly ignorant.

                This much I know about markets: the more risk, the more need for regulation. You can’t even get that far. Yes, gravity existed before Newton. You give me the explanation for gravity, smartass. Nobody does, not even Higgs, he of the mass-ish boson. I await your most excellent and informative reply.Report

              • I would just like to say that I liked George’s comment above.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:

                Libertarians think they’ve got an explanation for markets. Lots of merry myth-making about kings sending servant girls out for cabbages and other such horseshit hypotheses.

                Eh? Citation, please.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:

                So to James I say that markets defintely do not predate regulation, they just predate government regulation. Left to themselves they are regulated, in the final event, by the seller or buyer who’s willing to cut off people’s heads not to defy the market, but to enforce its rules.

                George, That doesn’t dispute anything I said. You’re just using the term regulation more broadly. It’s not an entirely illegitimate use of the term, but it does muddy the water, because of course buyers and sellers disciplining each other isn’t what Blaise is talking about, nor is it what I was rebutting.

                If we want to call Blaise’s approach third-party regulation and yours first-party regulation, then it clarifies things, and you and I are on the same side.Report

            • When I said Murray is the sort to rise to power in a libertarian world, I meant that in a world of weak government, he would make the government as large or as small as he wanted, depending on his financial interest at the moment.

              Please explain how a) he’s going to have greater chance of gaining power in a libertarian system, and b) how he’s going to make gov’t as large as he wants it when it’s more limited in its regulatory power than it currently is. As a bonus, explain why he would be so eager to gain power of a government with less regulatory power (what good does it do him, compared to the advantage of controlling the greater regulatory power of our extant state)?Report

              • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to James Hanley says:

                Lets stipulate that we have a Small government, of the type libertarians favor.
                A) With a low taxation/low regulatory system, Murray can gain tremendous economic power- just like today, except more so. Economic power delivers political power.
                B) By electing favorable politicians, Murray gets them to enact rent-seeking regulations that favor him.

                Does any of this sound familiar? It should. Right now the state has the power to protect the people’s interests; it also, on too many occasions, protects the power of the plutocrats;
                Reducing the power of government can only weaken its power to protect the people’s interest. The plutocrats will always zealously protect the governments power to protect their interest.Report

              • LWA,

                That’s not a libertarian state you’re talking about. Your point B violates the premise. Libertarians are not just asking the state to voluntarily refrain from as much regulatory activity. That would indeed lead to the outcome that you end up with–but that’s not the libertarian state; it’s the current state trying to engage in voluntary restraint.

                In the libertarian state rent-seeking regulations are among the forbidden regulations.

                And this is why I repeat, no matter how irritating it becomes to our local liberals, that you all don’t understand libertarianism. You consistently get the basics wrong. If you get the basics wrong, why should I grant that you actually know what you’re talking about?Report

              • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to James Hanley says:

                “In the libertarian state rent-seeking regulations are among the forbidden regulations. ”
                Yeah, I really do get it. That rentseeking is forbidden.
                FORBIDDEN HOW?

                How does this minimal government prevent rentseeking? Is there a Pope of The Marketplace who forbids it? Is there a Constitutional Amendment about it?Report

              • The government doesn’t have authority to pass those types of regulations. That’s what stops them.

                Constitutional amendment? Yes. In case you never looked closely, the U.S. Constitution has a list of things Congress isn’t allowed to do. No, I don’t mean the Bil of Rights. I mean Article 1, section 9.

                But here’s where I’m really puzzled. Your worry about the libertarian state is that businesses will be able to rent-seek. How is that different from the regulatory state that we actually have right now? I mean, if your big criticism of the libertarian state is that it’s going to allow the same behavior that’s currently allowed, that’s a pretty weak criticism unless you’re going to offer a third alternative (that solves that specific problem).Report

              • Why wouldn’t it be just as easy to conclude that in a libertarian rent-seeking state, coal would be seen as obsolete and nuclear power plants litter the nation with precious little oversight because of the mastubatory science fiction fantasies of those self-diagnosed asperger’s sufferers?Report

              • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

                My criticism is that a libertarian state cannot exist.
                Your definition of a libertarian state demands that it be faithful to libertarian principles. No such government ever existed, that faithfully followed any principles.
                The moment un-libertarian ideas are introduced- like rentseeking- it ceases to be libertarian.

                So it becomes what we have now.

                Except what little protection the people’s interest had- such as the services a robust public sphere could provide- have been wiped away. The only government that exists is the one that the private interests want to exist.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

                I mean, if your big criticism of the libertarian state is that it’s going to allow the same behavior that’s currently allowed, that’s a pretty weak criticism unless you’re going to offer a third alternative (that solves that specific problem).

                No, I don’t think it is, since liberals think that regulatory capture – to the extent that it exists – isn’t an indictment against regulation. We tend to look at the deficiencies in the system as an inevitable part of the equation – something to make progress on in rectifying – rather than as a decisive refutation of it. The motivation is to eliminate capture, not eliminate regulation.

                The reason it’s a big criticism of libertarianism is that capture will result in any event. I mean, I’ve made that argument repeatedly. In a different world, with different people, and different laws, and different a different culture, and comprised of a different type of self-interest, then maybe capture will be eliminated. We liberals – we think anyway – are just doing the best with the world we have.Report

              • So, LWA, you don’t think constitutions can constrain governments? Or you make a special exception in this case?

                And I see once again you jump to another unsupported claim, that there can be no private sphere. Jesus, there’s no end to the assumptions about what it has to be, are there?

                I don’t know why I bother with any of you. It always turns out the same, with the liberals lecturing the libertarian on what libertarianism really is. And weren’t you, LWA, just recently objecting to Jason K defining what Christianity is? I guess that business of defining others for them is a special privilege, only some folks are allowed to do it–you, for example.

                There’s nothing more i can say within the bounds of propriety. But if you pause to think, you.ll know damn well you’d object if I started telling you what liberalism really was.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

                you’d object if I started telling you what liberalism really was.

                I’ve agreed with you every time you tell me what liberalism is. 🙂Report

              • Still,
                So if I start saying that in the liberal world everything is completely regulated so there is no real private sector at all, I’m not going to get any pushback from liberals? LWA isn’t going to object that I’m misrepresenting liberals?

                Because it seems to me we’ve had a few people make claims like that, and liberals always respond by saying those folks are wrong about liberalism.

                Maybe you all should stop telling them they’re wrong.Report

              • And since rent-seeking and regulatory capture occur in a regulatory state, those are liberals’ intended outcomes.

                Nothing wrong with that claim, is there?Report

              • James, Liberals are typically described by non-liberals as wanting big government.

                Yet I’ve never heard a liberal argue for ‘big government,’ though I’ve heard plenty of liberals argue for specific government policies that might incur new taxes, new federal employees. In fact, the most recent ‘boost’ in Federal government — nearly all the ‘big government growth,’ came from the creation of the TSA.

                Now I’m a liberal, but I do not advocate this program, and would see it repealed and replaced — with something that, for instance, scanned the cargo in the plane or the shipping containers at the customs dock. I look around, and see a vast country with it’s infrastructure hanging out there; water systems, schools, malls, churches, theaters; mostly unmolested. And the majority of ‘threats’ we read about are actually the CIA setting slightly crazy people up. So here’s one liberal advocating dismantling a huge piece of government.

                But really: most people do not understand what regulatory capture is. It’s not overt, for the most part. It’s the food safety standards that make it easier for McDonalds them me.

                It’s the dairy standards against raw milk and cheese. didn’t used to be there, and since it’s been adopted, the sanitation standards at most farms has declined drastically; you sell direct to your customer, you care. Ship it to a dairy where it will be pasteurized, and ehh, so what? I buy milk and cheese on the black market; an act of civil disobedience.

                It’s the safety laws for car seats, adopted in the early 1980’s. Just a tad to big for compact cars. So parents purchased their seats, and then traded in their cars for the models the seats fit in — mini vans and suvs, the cars Detroit made a profit on.

                Often, those seeking regulatory capture agitate against the regulation, and then compromise, humbly accepting some new burden that’s really a blessing in disguise. It’s going to happen no matter what.

                Now here’s the really big thing: Competent government is what’s needed. Defining competence matters. And one huge aspect of that is information. That’s how you root out the capture that’s happened, and perhaps, how you model the capture likely to happen so you at least have an eye what to look for.

                Libertarians have their set of approved government functions, I believe in the safety net, so I can’t really go there, even though I really believe government shouldn’t bug/harass us too much. But I’d add one task to the things Libertarians should approve of government doing: providing information.

                Government is a marvelous collector of numbers. Census. Labor. Climate. Economy. Often, this happens in conjunction with universities and research. But it’s essential to providing government itself, people and businesses the information needed to make sound decisions. It’s one of what I’d call the critical legs of government competence. You can’t regulate without it, you can’t plan without it, you can’t defend without it. And except for that information that needs secrecy for defense, it should all be public. Because we paid for it.Report

              • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

                When I said the public sphere would be wiped away, I meant the protections that the people have now, like SS and Medicare.
                Thats not an unsupported assumption, thats the stated policy of the libertarian movement.

                You keep wanting to talk about libertarian principles, but I am talking about libertarian politics.

                Liberal government, both in principle and political effect, curbs the power of the plutocrats; libertarian government, by design, doesn’t. Yes, I know you think the marketplace will somehow do that function, but there isn’t any solid evidence for this.

                I will say it again, a different way- as we have seen in the Kelo decision, TARP, and countless other actions, when private power has the ability to overpower government it inevitably does it.

                “The government doesn’t have authority to pass those types of regulations. That’s what stops them.”

                Um, no. The government has whatever authority it claims to have, and is ratified by the Supreme Court- warrantless wiretapping, torture, eminent domain…do I need to go on?

                You’re fight isn’t with me or the liberals- its with the plutocrats who want government to be their handmaiden.
                You can shrink government all you want, the plutocrats will simply enlarge it at their whim.Report

              • as we have seen in the Kelo decision, TARP, and countless other actions, when private power has the ability to overpower government it inevitably does it.

                Was KELO and TARP and other countless actions pushed through by the libertarian project or were there names and/or parties associated with the decisions/acts?

                Let me guess: Scalia, and Thomas, and Rhenquist, and O’Connor were probably in the pocket of big business and the liberals on the court stood up for the little guy in the face of the corporation trying to steal land from citizens!!!Report

              • James Hanley in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:


                Have we gone through the looking glass? Are we in a world where X means not-X?

                as we have seen in the Kelo decision, TARP, and countless other actions, when private power has the ability to overpower government it inevitably does it.

                You use TARP and Kelo as examples of what happens when government power is more limited than it is now? I propose a constitutional amendment that would prohibit TARP and Kelo type actions, and you claim it would cause them?

                TARP–a huge handout to corporations–happened under your preferred political system, and yet you blame it on libertarian policies that don’t even exist. That’s astounding.
                Somehow in your world denying government authority to do X actually results in X being more likely? Do you also think the First Amendment is what leads to government efforts to support religion?

                [JH] “The government doesn’t have authority to pass those types of regulations. That’s what stops them.”
                [LWA]Um, no. The government has whatever authority it claims to have, and is ratified by the Supreme Court- warrantless wiretapping, torture, eminent domain…do I need to go on?

                And you think it would be better if we just eliminated all those amendments that prohibit those things? Because that’s the logic of your argument here.

                I’m not naive enough to think rules on paper are sufficient to totally constrain government. But if you look at the Supreme Court’s decisions, you’ll see that they frequently block government action. For all the Court’s imperfections, do you really think the abuses you mention would be less likely without a rule prohibiting them and an independent judiciary with authority to enforce that rule?

                Because that’s what I’m asking for here, and you can’t dismiss it as making things worse without arguing for eliminating the 4th, 5th and 8th amendments.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

                James, it’s obvious that the solution to bad laws is to pass more laws making it illegal to pass bad laws. And the solution to bad regulation is to institute regulation of regulation.Report

              • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to James Hanley says:

                They were pushed thru by the plutocrats, who had become more powerful than the government.
                Yes- again- We all agree that libertarians hated those actions.
                We get it, we really do.

                What, don’t tell me you think that had there been a bunch of libertarian Justices, those decisions wouldn’t have happend?
                Of course!
                Except in a world of small government and plutocrats, how would a truly libertarian Justice ever get confirmed by a Senate bought and paid for by those very plutocrats?

                This is what I am saying- a small government inevitably gets captured by the private interests, libertarianism be damned.

                Politically, libertarianism has no constituency. It benefits no one materially. The freedom it claims to deliver is redundant to those who already have it, and inaccessible to those who don’t.Report

              • If I were going to complain about Libertarians, I’d use different examples than KELO and TARP.

                Hell, if I were going to complain about *CONSERVATIVES*, I’d use different examples than KELO and TARP.

                Dude, these are the examples that *YOU* are bringing up in your rants about Libertarians. I mean, Jesus. Complain about Libertarians not caring about the poor dying without health insurance if you must. Complain about Libertarians wanting to push the elderly out to sea on ice floes the way that Eskimotarians did back in the day. When you give a speech about how awful the Libertarians are and then go on to use examples from the real world that was, in the case of KELO vs. New London, a case decided by the so-called Liberal portion of the SCotUS (as in containing the four that you like and the fifth that you don’t always hate), it’s seriously out there. I mean like “is this guy a secret conservative trying to undercut Liberals and their complaints about Libertarians” out there.

                Stop doing that.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

                Hell, if I were going to complain about *CONSERVATIVES*, I’d use different examples than KELO and TARP.

                I’ll give ya the libertarian part wrt TARP, but not the conservatives. 2008.Report

              • How’s this. If I were standing on Liberal Foundations and complaining about Conservatives, I’d use a different argument than TARP.

                If I were me, of course TARP is one of the things I’d complain about.

                And then someone much smarter than I would show up and say “but, Jaybird, you don’t understand the confidence crisis we were in, without TARP, the entire system might have collapsed” and then we get to have *THAT* conversation again.

                But, anyway, if I were a Liberal complaining about Conservatives, there are a double buttload of arguments out there that would be better than bipartisan legislation.Report

              • JB, your bon mot re conservatives and Kelo wasn’t missed by everyone, just so’s you knows. The noise-to-signal ratio is rather high today.Report

              • LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

                Of course, there are no Court decisions made by any libertarians; nor are there any legislative acts made by libertarians; there are no Executive orders made by libertarians.

                Because libertarianism has no consituency; no one wants it. They can’t get elected, or appointed, or confirmed.


                Thats my point.
                So shrinking government will only increase the number of Kelo and TARP actions, not decrease them.

                Kelo and TARP were not examples of how libertarians behave. They were examples showing how plutocrats enlarge government when it suits them.
                And libertarianism has no political mechanism to check that power. Except for strongly worded blog posts saying “Thats Forbidden!”Report

              • This whole “maybe Liberals make things worse but at least they’re not IMPOTENT” argument isn’t swaying me.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

                Because libertarianism has no consituency; no one wants it. They can’t get elected, or appointed, or confirmed.

                If you haven’t yet persuaded enough people to agree with you, it means you’re wrong!

                Pretty sure that’s a logical fallacy. Between that and the TARP example, LWA’s giving logic a thorough beating with the ugly stick.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

                “Kelo and TARP were not examples of how libertarians behave. ”

                See, I can kind of see the argument here, which is that if we get the small government that libertarians want, then it will be so small as to be easily pushed around by Big Money, and thus we’ll get more Big Money-friendly actions like Kelo and TARP.

                Which fails to understand that what libertarians want is a government that can’t do things like Kelo and TARP, push it around however you like.Report

              • DD,
                at which point, I fail to see how libertarianism is functionally not equivalent to anarchism. I make the assumption, it is true,t hat the rich will make bubbles again, and that some of them exploding may lead to catastrophe (see Argentina).

                If Libertarianism devolves down to “institute martial law” on a “once every hundred years” basis (Quoting Greenspan), I hold it to be a very stupid idea.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

                I’m gonna quote this a give a shout out to DD, cuz I think this is exactly where the dispute between liberals and libertarians lies on this issue.

                I can kind of see the argument here, which is that if we get the small government that libertarians want, then it will be so small as to be easily pushed around by Big Money, and thus we’ll get more Big Money-friendly actions like Kelo and TARP.

                Which fails to understand that what libertarians want is a government that can’t do things like Kelo and TARP, push it around however you like.

                That’s exactly right. Except for the “fails to understand” part at the end. Liberals totally get it. They just don’t see it as plausible. (Something to strive for, perhaps, but in the end, implausible.)Report

          • Jesus, Stillwater, I asked him to justify his claims, which is exactly what you demanded of me. So you jumped all over me for doing just what you did.

            And, yeah, I asked if he actually knew what he was talking about, because I didn’t see evidence that he did. Bu show me where the hell I accused him of “deliberately misrepresenting.” There’s a difference between being a liar and being ignorant. I didn’t accuse Jesse of lying.

            And my “total response,” was not “you’re misrepresenting our views,” but rather was explain how that’s supposed to work…if you can.. I think that’s a legitimate question, and am more than a little torqued that you simply blew right over it as though it’s not a legitimate question.Report

          • Russell M in reply to James Hanley says:

            bob murray and people like him would do better in “Libertarian World” then this one because in that world there is no gov regulation of the private market.

            your husband die in a coal mine collapse? too bad he took that job then he knew the risks. force the Owner to make safety a priority over Profit? we cant do that it is unlawful interference in the market.
            Forcing an entire society to operate on Caveat Emptor is not a good idea. I mean come on who wants to use the Ferengi as our model for society? Just look at the finance/mortgage market pre-2008. no regulation on what can be sold, no oversight to make sure customers are not being screwed, and when the house of cards collapsed all the sudden the people who did not want any gov intervention in the market could not cry out for help from big daddy gov fast enough.

            so yeah when greed trumps humanity(which is more or less what business has become as a whole anymore) not having a strong guard for the rights of the non-wealthy seems good to me.Report

            • Russell M in reply to Russell M says:

              *having a strong guard for the rights of the non-wealthy seems good to me.

              gaa sometimes i dont read what i type. and then i make a statement that counteracts itself. i join with mike a a man of good will who would love an edit button.Report

            • Murali in reply to Russell M says:

              Forcing an entire society to operate on Caveat Emptor is not a good idea

              I wonder at that. A big reason why people bought mortgage backed securities is that they thought the AAA rating meant that it was safe. If there had been no regulatory agencies, they would approach each financial product with a lot more scepticism?

              One of the things that bugs me is why did those ratings agencies rate the securities as AAA?

              Congress can enact and repeal regulations by which regulators are obligated to downgrade products which fall under the purview of the legislation. But don’t regulators have discretion to rate products which do not fall under existing legislative acts?

              What do congressmen, who tend by and large to be lawyers, know about what financial products are safe? What would uncertainty averse people who lived in a libertarian society do if they wanted to reduce the uncertainty surrounding financial products?

              Would their be multiple competing private ratings agencies? There are multiple websites which rate restaurants. And these websites seem to do a very good job of what they do. How do they do it? Why can’t something similar be done for financial products? Or maybe there would be something like Bell labs. Since private ratings agencies are not constrained by legislation, they have complete discretion to label what they want however they want. How likely is regulatory capture if ratings agencies are private? Don’t they have brand reputations at stake? How will anyone trust them if they give a high rating to poor financial products?

              Who will pay the ratings agencies? If the investor pays for it will there be a free-rider problem? If the financial company pays the agencies, will this result in regulatory capture with companies only hiring rating agencies which rate their products well?

              If private ratings agencies will form and will be more effective than government ones, where were they during the recent financial crisis?Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Murali says:

                Allow me to explain the CDO market. A mortgage enters the pool. It’s fitted into a tranche of mortgages. The relevant details behind that mortgage are obscured: a CDO buyer only sees if the mortgage is getting paid. Ab initio, there is no payment history, only the down payment is visible.

                The movements of schooling prey fish obscure the individual fish. The individual mortgage was originated by a little bank somewhere and immediately sold upstream, to enter the school of fish as just another mortgage. So what? It’s just one mortgage among thousands at this point. If one mortgage payment comes in late or not at all, that’s the risk inherent in such structures. The others are paying.

                The delusion of security arises from the idea that the mortgage is backed by a real house, a house which can be repossessed and sold. But a mortgage is only a financial instrument. A house is made of timber and nails and wallboard and shingles. A mortgage is made and sold, at which point it becomes what the accountants call an Annuity, a predictable stream of income.

                So far, so good. A CDO investor is interested in what’s called the “strip”, a rate of return on his investment. It’s a good place to park a great deal of money all at once. But CDOs aren’t regulated on open exchanges like other markets in debt, corporate bonds for instance. For this reason, CDOs have to offer a higher rate of return for the risk is higher.

                The problem with the CDO arises from the participation of the depository banks. This creates hysteresis in the system, a uncontrolled feedback loop. The CDO originator can not only issue such instruments but bet against them. Hiding behind obfuscated data to which they alone are privy, they can literally sell the proverbial pig in a poke.Report

              • Russell M in reply to Murali says:

                the AAA rating was secured by the company issuing the bond by paying off the bond rater(S&P,Moodys,Ect). the only reason the rating agency has any pull is it is recognized by the gov, as far as my understanding goes. For the life of me I dont understand why we did not just pull our seal of approval when we found out how willing the agency’s were to be lulled to sleep. Perhaps changing how the Raters are funded would remove the incentive to cheat. maybe just a blanket tax on any entity that wishes to issue bonds or sells stock. If you can’t legally bribe on the front end perhaps people will have more faith in the market.

                also I have to say I love the LOOG. actual good commentary with less stupid then anywhere else in the commentverse. you guys are the FireFly of opinion sites.Report

              • Murali in reply to Russell M says:

                you guys are the FireFly of opinion sites

                Meaning that even though we are really good, a lack of viewership and poor ratings is going to cause the network to cancel us….Report

              • Russell M in reply to Murali says:

                na, I meant that even thought the alliance(horrid nasty partisan world) keeps trying to force y’all around to their way, you brown coats keep up the good fight.Report

              • Murali in reply to Russell M says:

                So I read up a bit on wikipedia and it seems that the ratings agencies are private. But apparently, there are lots of barriers to entry, which is why they can continue to do business as usual even though they screwed up big time. With lower barriers to entry, they have been replaced by more competent regulators already after screwing up so badly.Report

              • Kim in reply to Murali says:

                THERE WERE private rating agencies.
                Multiple ones.

                Regulatory capture is EASIER with private agencies than public ones.
                (I know a conman, trust me.)Report

          • Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

            Relax, I’ve got this one.
            In a libertarian world, wealth concentrates into families, due primarily because, after a certain point, the owners of money become leeches. They can pay smarter people to make them more money (via investing).
            This means that wealth, over time, devolves into the hands of more priviledged and stupider folks (see reversion to the mean with IQ, if nothing else).
            “Bad People” in this case are predominantly low-risk taking individuals, like Mitt Romney. Thus, it’s actually inefficient to allow them to hold money, as more motivated, more intelligent people would be better positioned to start new businesses and create more cool ideas (or business models).Report

  23. Russell M says:

    i have one thing to add. this piece from Alec MacGillis more than a month ago shows what a complete waste of carbon Bob Murray is.


    truly a rank bad hat.Report

  24. Scott says:


    Why focus of this guy’s prayer instead of Barry’s war on coal?Report

  25. JasonC says:

    Is it just me, or does this entire prayer sound like a guy (one who would undoubtedly complain at length about a victimization complex among his workers) crying about how the super-rich are about to be victimized?Report

  26. bill payne says:

    “Yes natural gas has a much higher heating value than coal. However, for purposes of power plants instead of worrying about specific gravity and btu / ton or btu / ft^3, you should just focus on heat rate, which is the number of btus required to generate a kWh of electricity. The heat rate for combined cycle natural gas is in the 6,800 btu / kwh – 7,200 btu / kWh range, while coal usually comes in around 10,000 btu / kWh. Peaker (simple cycle) gas plants have a higher heat rate, closer to that of coal.

    Best general (free) source for this kind of information is the EIA (http://www.eia.gov/). They have a ton of data and a lot of introductory material. If you have access to Wall Street research you can check any initiating coverage report for utilities and you’ll probably also find some of this info. ”

    ‘Clean coal Heat Rate’ is substantially about 10,000 BTU, we read?Report

  27. bill payne says:

    Google ‘scorpion silhouette named james’ for proposed book on spy sting BUST on Iran and associated liberal arts ‘education’.

    Are Iran nuclear facilities going to be bombed or not?

    “Israel reported to generate 58% of its electricity from coal.

    coal-fired electric power plants provided 83 percent of Indiana’s net electricity generation in 2011. Indiana’s industrial sector, which includes manufacturers of aluminum, chemicals, glass, metal casting, and steel, consumed more energy in 2010 than the residential and commercial sectors combined

    Ninety-three percent of Kentucky’s net electricity generation in 2011 was generated from coal. “Report

  28. Rufus F. says:

    It’s hard not to feel his pain, because if there’s any industry that’s known for how deeply the executives care about the well-being of their employees, it’s coal.Report

    • Will H. in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Yeah, right up there with porn.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Rufus F. says:

      My dad used to own a coal mine. He fired all his employees out of the goodness of his heart, as they were his childhood friends and fellow miners growing up, and they had gone on strike. It was a choice between keeping his friends or keeping the mine, and he chose his friends.

      One of his close friends, who we’d visit quite often, was a favorite of one of their mine owners, and whenever the paycuts would come down (this was during the Depression), the owner would call him aside and say “Chester, your pay is not cut.”

      My dad recalled a interesting Polish immigrant who tried to get a job in the mines as a blacksmith. The mine manager regretfully said that no openings were available, and the Pole said it was okay, and then asked if he could use the mine’s forge for a few minutes, as his beard was getting scraggly. The manager said “sure” and the Pole took a small piece of scrap, hammered it into a straight-razor, quenched and tempered it, hit it with a file, sharpened it with a strop, and shaved. He was hired on the spot.

      I grew up going to church with a great many mine owners and mine managers (they tended to be Presbyterian or Episcopalian, whereas most of the miners were Baptist or Church of God). Contrary to what you might think, they do care about their employees. They are also good businessmen and are not under the slightest illusion that coal mining is some kind of social welfare program. Most of the non-union mine owners are in it with their employees, and many operators come from families who’ve been mining for generations, and the family histories of the owners and miners are intermingled across those generations. That’s what happens in small towns.

      Of course there used to be a lot of bad blood between workers and operators. My dad’s boss, for example, was killed in a union ambush along with eleven of his bodyguards, and my dad’s golfing partner shot a man through his front at 1:00 AM without even looking to see who was there. He opened it, and sure enough, there was a dead union miner on his porch with a pistol in his hand. Those days are largely gone.Report

  29. Chris says:

    I’ll just note that the idea that the individual is an end in his or herself is not only compatible with Christianity, but was originally a Christian idea. The problem is, from a Christian perspective, including the Kantian one (and, I suspect, from any perspective), acting always as if anyone, including you yourself, is always only an end in him or herself is impossible, and not only impossible, but even if it were possible, undesirable. It would make acting pretty much impossible.Report

  30. bill payne says:

    Listen to what edison engineer has to say about wind genration of electricty problem at High Lonesome in 2011. http://www.prosefights.org/settlements/mike.mp3Report

  31. bill payne says:

    Uranium possible supply problems

    ‘Five new generators are on track for completion this decade, including two reactors approved just a few weeks ago (the first new reactor approvals in the US in over 30 years). Those will add to the 104 reactors that are already in operation around the country and already produce 20% of the nation’s power.

    Those reactors will eat up 19,724 tonnes of U3O8 this year, which represents 29% of global uranium demand. If that seems like a large amount, it is! The US produces more nuclear power than any other country on earth, which means it consumes more uranium that any other nation. However, decades of declining domestic production have left the US producing only 4% of the world’s uranium.

    With so little homegrown uranium, the United States has to import more than 80% of the uranium it needs to fuel its reactors. Thankfully, for 18 years a deal with Russia has filled that gap. The “Megatons to Megawatts” agreement, whereby Russia downblends highly enriched uranium from nuclear warheads to create reactor fuel, has provided the US with a steady, inexpensive source of uranium since 1993. The problem is that the program is coming to an end next year.

    The Upside to a Natural Gas Downturn
    Marin Katusa, for The Daily Reckoning
    Monday April 2, 2012’

    coupled with War on coal and altenergy BS may signal serious future electricity supply and cost proplems?Report

  32. bill payne says:

    Coal is hot topic. Keep up neat posts. Google ‘scorpion silhouette name james’ for our current project … afer 20 or 54 years. Google ‘aboulghassem zirakzadeh’ for 1958 history.Report