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AvatarComments by Dark Matter in reply to Pinky*

On “What Is the Purpose of Primaries

+1. Great link.

The root issue is spending tomorrow's dollar today... and it's very human to do that.


...they can’t repeal the liberal policies because they’re actually popular...

Popular and/or create a group of "entitled" voters who are focused on it. And I could say the same about the Conservative's tax cuts.

And this is a bug, not a feature. Handing out Free money is popular, but destructive long term. We don't have a way to get rid of programs short of bankruptcy. There is an extreme mismatch between our desire for benefits/programs and our willingness to pay for them.


A party can win by merely appearing better than the opponent, but can it govern or execute any mandate?

This is a feature, not a bug. Big projects should have more support than "just my party".

On “CNN Climate Emergency Town Hall: Never Let A Crisis Go to Waste

Chernobyl was that yes, the managers were very powerful and could make the workers pay, even with their lives.

My expectation is Chernobyl's managers weren't responsible to anyone in any useful way. Their competence wasn't rewarded or punished. Them getting their job depended a lot on things like connections and party loyalty rather than management/technical competence. My further expectation is those managers also hired people based on irrelevant qualities and it's not at all clear to me that they could fire (or even increase/decrease the pay of) their workers.

The head guy at the Hoover Dam was Frank Crowe, and he was already the nation's leading expert on building dams before he got the job. BTW constructing the Hoover Dam killed 154 workers; Officially it's only 112, but another 42 should be in there because they all died of "pneumonia" in a situation where no one else who wasn't exposed to the job's carbon monoxide died of "pneumonia".

There is also a data selection issue here, if the Dam had failed, we wouldn't be reading about it. FDR did things that didn't work.


Conceptually, these efforts weren’t much different than Soviet tractor factories, in that they were a command economy model, where the state says “DO IT” and the private holders or capital and property say “YES SIR!”

The differences are...
1) You're doing serious cherry picking. The Soviets had their successes (Nukes, Orbital Technology). We had our failures (FDR's commands were a big reason why the Great Depression kept going on, he inherited the first set of problems but we had recoveries that he smothered).

2) If the system is that no one can be fired, no one is responsible, and people are allowed to make work for themselves and don't benefit from successes, then it's not going to work no matter what the orders are. With no research my expectation is that the Hoover Dam had a strong manager who was able to make people pay if they screwed up.

If our nuclear reactors are being built by the "tractor factory" model, then we shouldn't be shocked that we get the same results.

I mean, look at Trump’s Wall... What is stopping this from moving forward?

Let's just quote a Dem Congressman whose district is on the border.

3/11 Replacing a fence with a 30-foot structure covered in double razor wire and topped with floodlights qualifies as new construction no matter where it happens. This is not a time to tell ourselves that Trump is losing. This is being built as we speak.

Grijalva also pointed to a worrying tendency in the media to take short-term, technical victories over Trump while disregarding the reality of the administration's policies and its victims.

"The idea that this doesn't count as 'new wall,' and therefore there’s nothing to see here, is dangerous and leads to complacency," said Grijalva. "Thumbing our noses at Trump is no substitute for on-the-ground reporting."


Hoover Dam, the Interstate Highway system, the moon landing…all the Big Things that our parents taught us were the pride of America, the thing that everyone the world over marveled at “Look at how America works!”- these things just seem beyond us somehow.

Were these things regulated into existence or was it more "do it" combined with firing people if they couldn't do the job? The purpose of a bureaucracy is to avoid or dilute responsibility. That also does the same thing to talent and creates a lot of bad incentives.

A related issue is we could never create the highways now because our legal system would let too many people (NIMBY) scream bloody murder and throw sand in the gears.

The gov has grown a LOT bigger since those days and there are now lots of people, entire industries, which are skilled at extracting money from it or manipulating it.


fixing the process just doesn’t seem all that important to the stakeholders involved.

There are 6000+ hospitals in the US.
There are 60 nuclear plants.

The stakeholders are different every time we do this, certainly at a state level. I don't see how the stakeholders can learn from their experiences/history since they're rarely or never repeated.


Let's talk about Movie projects for a moment.

Think of how good the MCU movies have been, and how many terrible SF movies have been made over the years. Batman vs the Penguin as the Phantom of the Opera? Seriously?

One of the problems when you get a 100 Million dollar budget for a movie is you're putting together a group of people who aren't practiced at working together. Or maybe the Special Effects guys are a team but they've never interfaced with the other teams.

The MCU has gotten to the point where they're cranking out a movie every 3 months, so everyone has a steady job, has worked out multiple process bugs, fired people who were bad for the process, and so forth.

A nuke reactor is the same thing but much worse. It's a one off project. Hundreds of millions or Billions of dollars is at stake but the success of the total project is years out and may not line up with your personal short term interests. Figuring out who/what is working and who/what isn't may be really hard until the project is done and the blame game after the fact will be more about looking for heads to cut off than figuring out how to build the next one right.

Now if we were cranking these things out at scale we'd figure things out.


If we start 25 new nukes in the US today, they start displacing fossil fuels in 8-10 years.

True, but it's a lot more do-able to build 25 new nuke plants than it is to convert all of Texas (etc) into green energy plants.


Uh, the exact same logic, except moreso, is why people argue against a straight tax. Namely, it’s going to make a lot of things cost more.

That's part of it, but a big part is lack of trust in the gov. The amount taxed would be very large. In theory an "externalities" tax is supposed to be use to address the problems created by GW.

In practice that's so vague that we end up with AOC's "no progressive cause left behind" war on capitalism. Handing the gov a massive slush fund seems like a bad idea. It's not going to be used to promote nuclear and we're already dealing with hurricane damage without it.

The carbon tax on the table supposedly would replace our payroll taxes. That would be a big step towards ending the gov's efforts to destroy jobs, and the amount of economic damage created by the tax would be balanced by the good of removing payroll taxes.


... so we might have to use about 1.7 million square miles...

In case anyone missed that; For perspective, all of Alaska, California, Montana, and Texas wouldn't be enough.


I’m not seeing how a carbon tax is immune to the same pressures.

It's simpler. It's like the difference between a sales tax and the income tax code.

With a carbon tax Exxon pays the gov and passes it on to everyone who buys gas (exactly like a sales tax). This is predictable which is good for business. It also won't eliminate carbon which is why environmental purists don't like it.

Cap-and-trade can be done lots of ways, but it quickly gets pretty ugly in practice. The gov in theory could (or is supposed to) set the amount of allowable carbon to zero so everyone needs to trade for it to offset their emissions... however this is expecting our brave politicians to destroy jobs and destroy vast amounts of the economy so that doesn't happen.

We've seen credits handed out for almost zero. We've seen "tax-rebate" style deals where someone says they won't build a factory unless the gov figures out how to get them carbon credits.

There is no natural and obvious price of credits for things like planting a tree or whatever so there's lots of opportunity for games to be played there. There's "industry X is favored/important so it shouldn't need to pay credits".


How do you feel about nuclear power?


It is a collective action problem for people who celebrate privatization, and it requires us to view property as a unified

Approach this from a collective action point of view and you're going to suffer all the problems previously pointed out and more. Cap and Trade gets hijacked by "cronyism, weird accounting, and temptation to pick winners and losers." The entire thing becomes an exercise in virtue signalling and misuse of gov power.

Coyoteblog has it right. Put in a meaningful carbon tax, get the gov out of the business of micromanaging winners and losers and we're there.

So maybe there is a conservative case to be made that the urgent need of environmental destruction justifies a large aggressive government and collective action, a National Green Defense you might call it.

The Defense department is a mess of governmental disfunction, with the only limiting factor that we periodically go to war and are forced to measure what works and what doesn't.

A "Green Defense Dept" would have no way meaningful way to measure its success so we'd end up with no upper limit on the level of gov dysfunction and misuse. Real world collectivest governments are typically also massively polluted.


The problem with treating it like an engineering problem is that the solution is already here: build nothing but nuclear power plants, everywhere, forever.

+1. To a first approximation, yes, that.

Many things fall away as quibbles if you fix the main grid. Smart grid, energy transmission, air pollution, etc become less important or are greatly reduced as concerns.

We're still left with cars, but electric cars fueled by clean electricity is fine while cars plugging into the nearest coal plant isn't.

On “The People Problem of Fast Food Labor

You're mixing absolute and relative advantages. The percentage of people with college degrees now matches the percentage of people with high school before.

If you want the amount of money that a HS degree gave, you can still get that. You can even get the same absolute lifestyle it gave. What you don't get is the same relative lifestyle. What was a 30th percentile upper income is now probably 70% percentile (those numbers are a WAG).

We've tripled the absolute income we had since the start of the golden period of labor. If you want an upper 30% percentile job now, yes you need "more credentials and degrees". However that job didn't even exist back in the day.

While we're on the subject of why-things-suck for someone with a HS degree who would have been 30th percentile 70 years ago; They're also subject to competition from people that were excluded back then. Women and minorities weren't allowed to have those 30th+ percentile jobs, so getting one (if you were straight, white, and male) was easier.

On “CNN Climate Emergency Town Hall: Never Let A Crisis Go to Waste

GDP is measured on an annual basis. By 2100, we would be missing 7.2 percent of GDP every year because of climate change

I had it right. 1.001^70 is 1.072 (i.e. an extra 7.2%)

They are claiming we're going be growing at 0.1% less than we would otherwise. (BTW these figures match up exactly so I expect I've reverse engineered their reasoning.)

"Missing 7.2% of GDP every year" would mean every 8.5 years HALF the economy is destroyed. It'd be like holding a new atomic war every 8 years. In a century we're back to the stone age (or extinct).

What they mean is the economy in 70 years will be 7.2% less big than it would be otherwise.

However they're assuming there's no cost, AT ALL, to getting rid of carbon. Magic handwave and we just do it. Put some real world costs in there and this line of reasoning falls apart because the amount of money to decarbonize is more than the savings.

Edit: Unless they're serious about "a nuclear war every 8 years" in which case they're claiming humanity is seriously in danger... but our first priority needs to be no nukes and raising the minimum wage.


aside from the hit on subsidies...

A lot of those subsidies are virtue signalling. If the underlying technology can't succeed even with a carbon tax making them more efficient, then they don't deserve to exist.

that’s a perfectly fine beginning, but it doesn’t begin to do enough.

What would you suggest?


First, great article.

While the threat of climate change is absolutely severe and urgent, it is hard not to see Democratic rhetoric motivated less by genuine concern and more by the same kind of populist demagoguery that motivates the President’s claims of “emergencies” involving migrant caravans, Islam, and international trade.

Why "hard not"? The Dems don't really view climate as a crises, they just want to claim they do. The majority of this article makes that clear.

Are they screaming for nuclear power? If yes, then we can finally move on this. If no (and it is "no"), then there is no solution and denuclearization is viewed as vastly more important than de-carbonization.

In 2050, where he is proposing we set the goal of net-zero emissions...

If I'm elected I promise future politicians will make this happen. Future politicians will make the painful trade offs I won't.

Any plan that has something like that as a plank in the plan should be suspect.

The damage climate change could cause if temperatures increase at the current rate economically is estimated at 7.2 percent GDP by 2100.

Over a 70 year period, so that's 0.1 percent a year or something which rounds effectively to zero. At a handwave, the solutions on the table are way more expensive than that.

We're not in enough pain yet to do anything about this.

On “The People Problem of Fast Food Labor

Workers are accepting lower wages and worse job security and fewer benefits, showing that the demand for their labor is weak.

If you mean "some worker somewhere" then that's an absurd measurement.

If you mean "all workers as a whole" then you're wrong. Median income is going up, not down (see graph below). For that matter since unemployment is also going down the demand for labor is going up, not down.

And keep in mind the below graph suffers from using the wrong metric for inflation and doesn't adjust for different family mixes so it's under reporting how well things are going.

Its like saying that there is a tremendous demand for oranges because the entire crop was sold, while ignoring that the price has dropped.

Except that the price hasn't dropped, it's increased.


I don't understand what point you're trying to make.

Yes, dead people don't work... but US population is going up, not down.


The big issue is divorce, rates went up a lot in the last 70 years. Turning one family into two pushes down the average per family a lot.

This is why that link's chart with just "Married 2-Earner Households" is such an good line up. Even though it's not adjusting for number of children it removes divorce distortions.

Real median income for married couples with both spouses working reached a new all-time record high last year of $111,000 and has more than doubled from $54,700 in 1963.

If you changing the starting point to right after the war ended it's even more absurdly good.


the final, ultimate competitor is not a Mexican or nonunion worker, but a machine. And no one really has any sort of response to that.

My response is: "Don't worry, be happy." Serious and well used econ Theory says machines will increase productivity and pay. See also "Lump of Labor".

Chip: (From a different post) That productivity is from technology that allows us to do twice as much work with the same number of people; those missing workers are the invisible army of the displaced.

We're at full employment. That "invisible army" is employed doing something else.


Automation armageddon has been preached since electricity and the electric motors arrived on the production scene.

It long predates that.

The eventual way to deal with this problem was to shoot protesters and implement mechanical automation as much as technology allowed. That's why we do knitting by machine rather than by hand nowadays. Hand knitting jobs at any kind of scale are gone, we don't mourn them.


chance processes will skew the grey area of what looks like good&bad choices.

True... but it's easy to over state this.

If two employees interview for a job and it is 50/50 chance, and by random luck one guy gets the ‘skill’ job, then the next time he turns in a resume, he has that skilled job listed, while the unlucky one doesn’t.

This assumes there is only one job, and after one failed interview the unlucky guy is just screwed. In reality there's probably 10 people who interview and the odds of success are only 10% at best.

All of my jobs came from pretty random interactions, however big picture they also weren't the result of a single interview. Each time I had a lot of other interviews and failed, with the first job I think I sent out three digits worth of resumes. If I'm looking for work then I keep rolling dice until I succeed.

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