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Richard Slay
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I guess another approach would be to have VW foot the bill for removing other sources of pollution equivalent to the sum total of their rigged cars. Problem is, you'd have to work that out for each locality. If we view NOx as a primarily urban problem, then VW argues that only its cars in urban areas should be used to determine that total pollution in each city and proper remedies. That still leaves VW open to civil lawsuits over loss of resale value. For instance, a cash-for-clunkers program for pre-Tier5 diesels from all brands. But there aren't enough old diesel cars running in the US for that to work. If you extend it to commercial vehicles, are new commercial diesels sufficiently improved to justify replacement?
I'd like to go further for owners living in apartments. The newest Li-ion batteries have reached 120 whr/pound density. 150 could happen by the end of the decade. We could build a one-ton city car with two removable battery packs that look like wheeled suitcases, each 3 kwh or 20 lbs. I'm looking at 60 w/mile urban consumption, so over 40 miles per pack. Normally the owner would wheel the pack into and out of his apartment, thus leaving the car unstealable when parked. He could alternate charging one pack at home while using the other, or charge up both for a highway trip. With a 110v plug, charging would take 2 hours.
Airlines might be willing to pay a premium price for a completely synthetic fuel, if its purity reduces maintenance costs. Getting the price per gallon competitive with ordinary gasoline is a tall order. I'm just surprised they're trying to raise microbes in Finland, which implies they don't need sunlight. That's intriguing. The linked article says fungi and yeast, which confirms that. Imagine oil production in every basement.
Basically, a 19th century lifestyle to reflect our restored 19th century deregulated markets, banking, labor practices, and inequality. Except that inequality is now greater than it was during the worst of the Gilded Age. And at least the rich lived among us in that era, and we'd see them in the streets and throw rocks at the bastards. Now they can afford private communities and islands guarded by private armies. Problem is, this barbaric model requires us to be paid less and less, yet sales must keep growing. My prediction for the next phase is debtor's prisons and inherited debt serfdom. The latter is actually how most humans have lived under private property systems since the first landlords appeared. We called it sharecropping when we did it here.
When the companies' investors find out that they can make the quickest profits by simply converting cheap methane from fracking, a fossil fuel, into H2 and letting the resulting CO2 just float away into the air exactly like it would if you'd burned the methane to produce electricity, what do you think will happen? They will lie, obfuscate, and lobby to preserve their green credentials to sell the cars to environmentally-concerned but ignorant rich folks and take the quick kill. New infrastructure is expensive, and American investors and their computer-run trading programs only care about the quickest, dirtiest profit. Whereas you can make your OWN electricity with solar panels at home and know where it came from. Guarantee the renewables-based H2 production method is cheaper than the fracking-glutted methane market, or guarantee that the H2 stations outside of remote areas, where solar is definitely at an advantage, truly are getting their supply the same way.
"Civil rights" is code for black people, right? So today's lesson is, black people are to blame for all of America's problems, because life was perfect under Jim Crow. Instead of putting them in the back of the bus, we shouldn't even let them ride the bus. Except, Engineer-Poet, that your own math has a problem. If you accept that Canada's homicide rate would also go down using all your exceptions and provisos, it would still be substantially lower than the American white-only homicide rate. And Canada does have a black population, largely descended from escapees from America's slave systems and immigrants from the West Indies, meaning violent Jamaica. White Americans are still the most violent white people in the advanced world. And you and I are still more likely to be killed by someone we know than a criminal stranger. And we know why permit holders aren't convicted of murder in Florida. They're white, and can shoot any black person they feel afraid of and claim that as a defense. Sounds like ol' Mr. Crow be comin' back.
TexasDesert, I had the same idea of the military operating nuclear reactors to deal with security fears. Then the Ft. Hood shootings occurred, and I realized that there really isn't any such thing as perfect security. However, the fact that Americans spend as much on the military as the rest of the world put together indicates that we can't grasp that concept. Then came Fukushima, and well, if the Army can't secure a base full of tanks in Texas and the Japanese can't get their engineering right, it really is hopeless. HarveyD, all budget deficits are not equal, just as all government dollars are not equal. We had staggering budget deficits during WW2, yet the country became less unequal and grew like crazy. We raised taxes on the rich sky-high for 25 years to pay for 4 years of war, and sold war bonds to the lower classes. The poor got repaid and bought houses and cars, the rich were starved of cash to blow on stock and real estate bubbles. Reagan chose to finance the last phase of the Cold War in the opposite way that FDR funded WW2, and got opposite results. Furthermore, WW2 war production created mass employment while the goods were well-built and cheap (P-51 fighter = $50,000 in WW2 $). Today's Military-Industrial complex produces fewer and fewer jobs to create smaller lots of ever more esoteric and questionable weapons that don't seem to win the wars we now choose to fight. So the modern deficit produces very different results than the 1945 deficit.
SJC, one of the big differences between now and 1932 is oil prices. In 1932 prices were so low that the entire industry was fratriciding itself into bankruptcy, so the governors of TX and OK declared martial law, took over the oil fields, and created essentially the first OPEC to prop up prices at life-support levels. The very fact that happened disproves classical laissez-faire, because lower prices should have stimulated demand for all goods related to oil. But today any signs of economic recovery cause prices to skyrocket. Read Daniel Yergin's "The Prize" for the extremely complicated and intimate relationship between the US and UK governments and Big Oil over the last 130 years (like the British Navy's ownership of what is now called BP). It's never been a free market.
"If we were to apply 'hidden' costs to everything as thse people suggest there would be taxes on ladders, roller skates, skate-boards, fatty foot, sweets etc etc." Scott, we do have a hidden tax on all those things in the United States. It's called medical costs, and it's bankrupting us (we pay twice the GNP for medical costs as many other industrialized countries). Two of my four closest friends are essentially in medical bankruptcy, broke and stuck in jobs far below the productivity of jobs they've held in the past because they can't let go of their insurance. Since it's not in the interest of manufacturers of ladders, roller skates, sweets and many other things to educate us that those hidden costs exist IN THE LONG RUN, Americans go on with short term pleasure seeking, and the GNP gets a second boost when our sins very expensively catch up with us. But are we better off this way?
Okay, it's time to test EJJ's knowledge of American history. In September 1929, the stock market, propped up by years of low interest rates, stock and real estate speculation, and stagnant wages requiring ordinary Americans to go massively into debt to buy goods to keep the corporations profitable and their stocks rising, finally crashed. With free market dogma reigning supreme, it lost 90% of its value, and unemployment went from near zero to 30% over several years. The more Hoover's government tried to stop spending and deficits, the more money was taken out of circulation and the worse unemployment got. In January 1933, 3 1/2 years after the crash, the banks were on the verge of collapse, protesting military veterans had been slaughtered in Washington DC by the Army, Republican Iowa farmers had formed mobs to attack foreclosers, US-born Mexican-American citizens were being forcibly deported to Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma were using troops to shut down oil production and Communists were marching in the streets. In October 2008, the stock market, propped up by years of low interest rates, stock and real estate speculation, and stagnant wages requiring ordinary Americans to go massively into debt to buy goods to keep the corporations profitable and their stocks rising, finally crashed. The banks blackmailed the world's governments into a bailout to avoid the events of 1929 - Bush actually threatened Democratic congressmen with the specter of martial law if such conditions came about. Stocks and real estate were propped up, the worst of the consequences of a good old-fashioned free-market collapse were headed off, but the rich had made it clear that they were willing to cause all those old plagues if they were made to bear any of the burden for the catastrophe they had caused - and had caused in many past panics. As for the stimulus, it mostly consisted of tax cuts, which right-wingers keep claiming is the solution for everything. Combined with Bush's previous tax cuts for the rich, it destroyed Federal revenues. It did not consist of direct emergency hiring as did FDR's second wave of programs, which kept millions above water and built much of the infrastructure that served America during World War II, like the TVA, highways, bridges, bus and train stations, public school stadiums, and airports. So what would the unemployment rate be today if we had done things the Herbert Hoover way, EJJ?
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Jul 11, 2011