Mark Steyn on the trouble he has with facts:

Incidentally, I stopped writing for the [New York] Times a few years ago because their fanatical “fact-checking” copy-editors edited my copy into unreadable sludge.

I think it’s some sort of chemical reaction — add facts to a Mark Steyn column and it curdles into sludge. Macleans doesn’t seem to bother with fact checkers because check this Sten column out:

The other day, an admiring profile of Cate Blanchett (“Green before it was hip, she cites Al Gore and David de Rothschild as heroes and believes that leaf blowers ‘sum up everything that is wrong with the human race,’ ” etc.) revealed that, in order to give her new mansion as small an environmental footprint as possible, she requested that the plumbing be constructed to “allow them to drink their own waste water.” …

Miss Blanchett and her husband have paid their architect thousands of dollars to design a system whereby the bodily waste goes down the toilet, gets whisked by pipeline through the walk-in closet, over the balcony, down the wall, back in through the rec room, and up into the wet bar directly into the soda siphon. As her fellow Antipodean, the Aussie wag Tim Blair, observed: “Not exactly Pickfair, is it?” — Pickfair being the legendary mansion of Douglas Fairbanks and Canada’s own Mary Pickford. But who’s to say Pissfair won’t become the norm in the new Hollywood?

All right, let’s make us some sludge.

Warning: if you try this experiment yourself, you should wear eye protection and use a fume cabinet. The fumes from Mark Steyn columns can cause dizziness, nausea and foaming at the mouth. If you get a Mark Steyn column in your eye, immediately wash it out with plenty of cold water and see your physician.

Sydney’s Sun Herald had a story about Blanchett’s new home:

The Oscar-winning actor and her playwright husband, Andrew Upton, are splashing out almost $1.5 million in renovations to create an environmentally friendly home.

A massive 20,000-litre water tank, high-tech solar panelling, low energy lighting and grey water recycling will be among the features of the Hunters Hill home.

Contrary to Steyn’s belief, grey water recycling does not involve drinking urine, because:

  1. Grey water does not contain urine — it is the water from showers and laundry.

  2. It is treated to remove impurities.

  3. You use it for watering the garden, flushing the toilet, and clothes washing. Greywater outlets must be labelled with “WARNING DO NOT DRINK”.

Now the writer of the story in W does say that the recycling system allows them to drink the recycled greywater, but she has clearly made a mistake — health regulations require a “WARNING DO NOT DRINK” sign. Steyn then turned this mistake into his own flight of fantasy. But we’re not finished yet, we can curdle more of his column, just by adding more facts!

Sheryl Crow, meanwhile, recently proposed that when it comes to, ah, other waste products, her environmentally conscious fans should only use a single sheet of bathroom tissue per visit.

Crow was making a joke. Isn’t making sludge so much fun.

Well I’m sure you can see where his column is heading:

Two of those arrested for plotting terrorism this month in Germany were jihadists with the impeccably Teutonic names of “Fritz” and “Daniel.” Both had converted to Islam in the town of Ulm, on the Danube, where the population is, officially, 25 per cent Muslim. That’s not evenly distributed: the dying seniors are native Germans, the demographically surging youth is overwhelmingly Muslim.

Yep, the Muslims are taking over. How did he connect TMATO with toilets?

Meanwhile, on the fast depopulating plains of eastern Germany, rural communities are dying, and one consequence is that municipal sewer systems are having a tough time adjusting to the lack of use. Populations have fallen so dramatically there are too few people flushing to keep the flow of waste moving. Traditionally, government infrastructure expenditure arises from increased demand. In this case, the sewer lines are having to be narrowed at great cost in order to cope with dramatically decreased demand. For the demographically dying West, it’s not a question of “sustainable growth,” but of sustainable lack of growth. One can talk airily about Western civilization being flushed down the toilet of history, but it turns out even that’s easier said than done. Long before Sheryl Crow’s celebrity pals have squeezed their last Charmin, it will be clear that the job of “saving the planet” is one the West has bequeathed to others.

Simple really.

After curdling a Steyn column with facts, the resulting sludge should be disposed by flushing it down a toilet. Do not put it into a greywater recycling system.

Update: If you check out the blogs that linked Steyn, you find uncritical acceptance by posters and commenters of Steyn’s obviously false story about Blanchett. For instance, Ed Driscoll, Van Helsing and Tim Blair. The funniest is this one, where a commenter proves that the story is rubbish, but the others’ faith in the Holy Word of Steyn is unshaken.

Comments

  1. #1 Majorajam
    October 3, 2007

    Jc, you’re thick. You said you only felt compelled to respond to something I’d said about Rockefeller. Silliness I think you called it. Since the only thing I’d said about Rockefeller to that point was that he was wrong and you were right, I agreed with your assessment that such was a very silly comment, (while also noting that those with a few synapses to rub together would likely conclude that the statement was ironic. Understanding of course this group doesn’t include you).

    So to translate from Jc ease, which indeed requires a careful reading, you think that water distribution can be contestable if it is unbundled from supply. Fair summary? As I’m sure you’re aware, to be a contestable market, there must be low barriers to entry and exit to potential players. So it’s your position then that laying down hundreds of miles of pipe with no salvage value, not to mention building pumping stations and other infrastructure, to sell a commodity with extremely low variable cost- your view is that this constitutes a low barrier to entry and exit. Did I mention you were thick? Probably not emphatically enough.

  2. #2 Brain Hertz
    October 3, 2007

    Ther is nothing i said that is contradictory. You’re playing dumb like SG. At least I thing you only pretend.

    I didn’t say you contradicted yourself. I said you argued with yourself. As in, your own actual words. You wrote the words in #60, I quoted them in my post #69, and then you quoted my post #69 in #73 and reflexively argued every paragraph, including the ones that were actually yours.

  3. #3 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    “Jc, you’re thick”

    Fair enough.. But let’s see if you point has merit shall we?

    “You said you only felt compelled to respond to something I’d said about Rockefeller. Silliness I think you called it.”

    That’s correct it did call it silly because it was. I would include pig ignorant as well.

    “Since the only thing I’d said about Rockefeller to that point was that he was wrong and you were right,”

    Well no you also made him out to be a monopolist, which by definition is wrong. Your last comment about the Rock was a sarcastic swipe as I read it and I replied.

    I must confess to you that the entire first paragraph of your last comment is a tangled mess of pure swill that I couldn’t begin undo even after the 3rd reading. I gave up after that. Dude, English is a great language that provides for excellent clarity. Use those advantages whenever possible.

    “So to translate from Jc ease, which indeed requires a careful reading, you think that water distribution can be contestable if it is unbundled from supply. Fair summary?

    Yep. Only point that I would make is that it doesn’t need careful reading. I was pretty clear on that so I’m concluding you have interpretation issues with language.

    “As I’m sure you’re aware, to be a contestable market, there must be low barriers to entry and exit to potential players”

    Define exactly what you mean here. Do you mean low barriers in terms of regulatory requirements, capital requirements and expertise? What exactly?

    “So it’s your position then that laying down hundreds of miles of pipe with no salvage value, not to mention building pumping stations and other infrastructure, to sell a commodity with extremely low variable cost- your view is that this constitutes a low barrier to entry and exit.”

    No dumphy. I don’t suggest and never suggested that we need to duplicate pipes and pumping stations etc. I was quite emphatic about that. I suggested that the distribution side should be stripped out of the catchment and treated as separate businesses. The barriers to entry are dependent on a host of things such as regulation and capital requirements. You may want to explain why it is difficult to privatize the water business simply because it has a low variable cost. I would be very interested in seeing this unique line of argument.

    “Did I mention you were thick? Probably not emphatically enough.”

    You have. But at this point in time, I would say the shoe is on the other foot. In his case yours, Major. Good luck tying the shoelaces. If you need help just holler, ok as I’m always here to help. You know that.

  4. #4 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Lee:

    I’m not bluffing.

    But I am getting upset with you that you haven’t started your reading assigment yet.

  5. #5 Bruce Moomaw
    October 3, 2007

    Actually, let’s see what David Friedman proposes as a Coasian free-market solution to the problem of pollution ( http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Academic/Coase_World.html ):

    “Suppose that, in the [air] pollution case discussed earlier, damages from pollution are easy to measure and the number of people downwind is large. In that case, the efficient rule is probably to give downwind landowners a right to collect damages from the pollutor, but not a right to forbid him from polluting. Giving the right to the landowners avoids the public good problem that we would face if the landowners (in the case where pollution is inefficient) had to raise the money to pay the steel mill not to pollute. Giving them a right to damages rather than giving each landowner the right to an injunction forbidding the steel mill from polluting avoids the holdout problem that the mill would face (in the case where pollution is efficient) in buying permission from all of the landowners.”

    Except for the tiny fact that, you know, in the real world it IS very hard to measure the damages done to any individual person by pollution — which means that juries or judges deciding just how MUCH in the way of “damages” those individual people are entitled to are going to be totally in the dark. To say nothing of the cost and length of all those individual civil court cases, each one requiring its very own own damage estimator… Which means, of course, that in any case involving pollution of the environment of any large number of people, the most efficient Coasian solution is obviously — ta da! — for those “damages” to be estimated as a sum total by a single board of government estimators, and collected from the polluter as a sum total in the form of either a pollution tax or a regulation placing some limit on the total amount of pollution allowed. Which, in turn, really ought to be obvious to anyone who isn’t a congenital idiot.

  6. #6 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Brian

    I’m not arguing with myself.

    I may have missed quotation marks or inadvertly joined things together using HTML to highlight quotes.

    Very sorry for the confusion. I don’t edit and I should. i’m bone lazy and that’s my good point.

  7. #7 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    I agree with Friedman. He very good with everything he writes.

    Let me warn you though, trying to glue that argument with what Eli was inferring is laughable at this point.. Eli would want a tax from personal preferences stand point notwithstanding damages. In other words he hardly had Friedman’s argument in mind.

    That is unless Eli states that he agrees with Friedman and has an understanding of issues such property rights and supports these rights at the individual level in the same exact way Friedman does (and I do).

    If he does that then it’s a different kettle of whales, as I would have to look at Professor Eli in an entirely new light and confer on him all the privileges that go with being a libertarian.

    Eli, are you ready top join the dark side?

  8. #8 Majorajam
    October 3, 2007

    Jc, your wit is the envy only of your intellect. Allow me to consolidate our back and forth:

    Me: “Is it your position that rail or water distribution are contestable markets?”

    Dimwit: “I suggested unbundling these two markets could make them more competitive and contestable.”

    Me: “you think that water distribution can be contestable if it is unbundled from supply.”

    Dimwit: “Yep.”

    Me: “So it’s your position then that laying down hundreds of miles of pipe with no salvage value, not to mention building pumping stations and other infrastructure, to sell a commodity with extremely low variable cost- your view is that this constitutes a low barrier to entry and exit.”

    Dimwit: “I don’t suggest and never suggested that we need to duplicate pipes and pumping stations etc.”

    Then that your position is it is possible to distribute water without pipes and pumping stations, as would be required to have more than one player in the market, i.e. for there to be a competitive or contestable market. It is difficult to know how to respond to this stunningly obtuse assertion, so I think I’ll just move on.

    Me: “As I’m sure you’re aware, to be a contestable market, there must be low barriers to entry and exit to potential players”

    Dimwit: “Define exactly what you mean here.”

    This is as elementary a concept as exists in undergraduate economics therefore I should be very unsurprised you have no idea what it is. Barriers to entry or exit are start-up costs associated with bringing a product to market- they can take any form that costs can take. My I am in a charitable mood this morning! But then, what else could possibly justify conversance with so feeble a mind.

    Dimwit: “The barriers to entry are dependent on a host of things such as regulation and capital requirements.”

    Capital requirements? Did you mean to say that we can privatize the banking industry?

    Dimwit: “You may want to explain why it is difficult to privatize the water business simply because it has a low variable cost. I would be very interested in seeing this unique line of argument.”

    Unique is your blend of ignorance and bellicosity. This is just simple economics. In particular, stating that entry costs or capital intensively is high is a relative not an absolute concept. Relative to what you stutter? To the cost base as a whole, hence the importance of the variable cost contribution. In water distribution, the cost structure is so disproportionately tilted toward fixed entry costs that, as I said originally, even the most fanatical privatizers would not venture into this territory. That falls to the uninformed and dull variety of ideologues like yourself. Here endeth the lesson.

  9. #9 Majorajam
    October 3, 2007

    Jc, forgot to mention, I’d alluded only to Rockefeller’s understanding of the power of the rail monopoly- rail is a network, remember?- as contrasted with your lack thereof. That you’ve constructed a whole separate narrative replete with your riding to his rescue is symptomatic of your specially-abled cognitive faculties. That and your exemplary trolling skills. Can’t wait to see the latest and greatest.

  10. #10 Nick Barnes
    October 3, 2007

    I call an intermission.

    Popcorn! Ices! Cold drinks!
    Come and get yer refreshments here!
    Popcorn! Ices! Cold drinks!
    Those little tubs of raspberry ripple, with the wooden spoon stuck to the lid!
    Popcorn! Ices!
    Kia-Ora!

    OK, intermission over, back to the main event.

  11. #11 sod
    October 3, 2007

    Jc does NEVER make a real point. he repeats some economic theories, writes a lot of evasive stuff and thinks he is very clever while we are ratehr stupid.

    instead of simply applying the Coase theorem to drinking water, nuclear power or whatever and making a claer point ONCE it is always the same evasive nonsense.

    nothing of what he says makes any sense. he implied under this topic, that if we were paying deregulating trinking water, private contractors would be building offshore nuclear plants to provide it.
    his rumblings about unbundling wtaer pipes and water doesn t make the slightest sense as well.

    You undundle the rails , Sod and let the market compete for slots at the stations.

    that is pretty exactly what happens in the UK.

    Sod, I know this shit, ok. There is nothing this area of the universe you know that i don’t know more of. So settle down and get used to it. Socialism doesn’t work. It never has and never will. Keep repeating that to yourself.

    sorry Jc, but you obviously know very little. about water puipes for example. or the UK rail. your original claim was, that “deregulation would make things more efficient AND benefit the environment”
    you completely failed to back that one up so far.

    the private UK rail for exmaple provides very good connections between certain centers at certain times. IF you are stuck with the rail ONLY (that was the point i made) you lost big times.

    I am not pretending that some of the early privatizations weren’t badly handled. However that doesn’t mean future priavtizations should be also. WQe learn from mistakes.

    again, that is NOT what you said in the beginning!
    dergeulation should always help! where is your big market theory, handling these exceptions taht you bring up constantly?

  12. #12 Majorajam
    October 3, 2007

    Sod, don’t be harsh. If you can relax the assumption that pipes and pumping stations are required to distribute water, then you have to accept Jc’s assertion that the market would be competitive if we just got government off its back. Seems reasonable enough. Also, if you redefine monopoly to mean whatever Jc wants it to mean, then it is only possible for one to exist if the government says it exists. Are you getting the hang of this yet? It’s how I learned to stop worrying and love inane assertions that resemble fatuous arguments spouted by ideological simpletons.

  13. #13 BruceMoomaw
    October 3, 2007

    First: what I clearly said in the second paragraph of my last entry is that — if Friedman really thinks that it could be better to deal with pollution by allowing thousands (or millions) of anti-pollution civil suits by individuals than to deal with by imposing a pollution tax or anti-pollution regulations — he’s a congenital idiot. And since he DOES seem to believe that, and Jc seems to agree with him — well, the conclusion will be left as a logical exercise for the reader.

    Second: we of California have already been exposed to the consequences of unwisely privatizing the distribution of electricity — namely, that (just as Krugman the Dread predicted) the distributors started deliberately arranging blockages in crucial nodes during periods of peak demand to make the cost temporarily shoot through the roof. Need one point out that the same thing could be done by private controllers of water distribution — unless, perhaps, we sign only contracts with them requiring a fixed price over long periods (as California should have done with the electricity distributors)? And will even that be enough to deal properly with the problem?

  14. #14 Eli Rabett
    October 3, 2007

    Amazing, you quote Coase on Coase to jc and he think you have taken a position. Face it jc is AS software.

  15. #15 guthrie
    October 3, 2007
  16. #16 Majorajam
    October 3, 2007

    Bruce, the solution to the California energy crisis is more lease handouts for private drilling on public land. Didn’t you know? I remember the Bush administrations pronouncements to this effect at the time- we should pass the Cheney taskforce, (anonymity assured by executive privilege), energy legislation, i.e. petrochemical welfare package, because power producers and traders were manipulating the market. Bush administration rhetoric is so cynically devoid of logic it boggles the mind. Was it always this bad? Ever?

    Be that as it may, electricity distribution was never privatized in California and I’m not entirely convinced that power generation cannot be. ‘Net metering’ is clearly a good idea if you want to instill incentives for renewables, in particular solar.

    Properly deregulating though would require that end user prices also be deregulated, and that mechanisms be put in place to allow consumers to hedge price risk, just as other commodity consumers can hedge price risk in the futures market, all of which may be a bridge too far. As it is, deregulating production without linking power costs to revenues and maintaining a moratorium on power plant construction was just about the worst combination of policy that California could’ve come up with had they been out to screw over their citizenry. It didn’t hurt Enron any though.

  17. #17 Brain Hertz
    October 3, 2007

    I’m not arguing with myself.

    I may have missed quotation marks or inadvertly joined things together using HTML to highlight quotes.

    Very sorry for the confusion. I don’t edit and I should. i’m bone lazy and that’s my good point.

    Bollocks, Jc. You split up one of your own paragraphs (that I had quoted to respond to) in order to interject a rebuttal to your own first sentence. And then went on to add a rebuttal to your second sentence as well. Not a “formatting error”.

  18. #18 Nick Barnes
    October 3, 2007

    Eli, if you mean the very long quote you give in comment #92, I don’t think that it is Coase on Coase. It appears to be a quote from an essay by David D. Friedman explaining the argument – predating Coase – for Pigouvian taxes. See here.

    Friedman then goes on to explain Coase’s ideas quite well (although be sure to wear your Friedman-filter spectacles). Coase explains that a rigorous system of property rights (sigh) can allow the market to regulate externalities without the need for Pigouvian taxes, and in fact generating more efficient solutions. If the polluter isn’t allowed by the system to pollute, he’ll either ameliorate the pollution, or buy the right to pollute from the victims. This freedom to decide allows the system to find a more efficient solution.
    This is the naive libertarian take on Coase. Of course it is naive nonsense. Experience teaches that often in fact the polluter will pollute away merrily, and when the victims (or the families of the dead victims) finally sue, the polluter will lie and steal and cheat and bribe and kill and, when all else fails, skip out from under the limited liability umbrella and whistle all the way to the bank (and to a cushy job with the government’s environmental protection agency).

    There’s more to Coase than this. He explains that the key reason why market solutions don’t actually do the right thing is the transaction costs. This is broadly correct, as far as it goes: I don’t sue every motorist in Manchester for the effects of their pollution on my lungs because the transaction costs (time, money, effort, life) would be too great. If the transaction costs were zero: if (say) I could set my own price for putting soot particles on my windows, and collect that price without any effort, then maybe I would do so (Of course, I might set the price arbitrarily high). So Coase is ultimately an argument for reduced transaction costs, as a means to allow markets to efficiently account for externalities. A great way of reducing transaction costs is to elect governments which introduce Pigouvian taxes and other costs (e.g. corporate manslaughter laws) which make polluters take account of externalities without every victim having to incur individual transaction costs. That is, Coase can be used to argue for regulation as well as against it.

    The relevance of this to water privatization I leave as an exercise to the reader.

    I still have a couple of these raspberry ripples left, and a bag of dry roast peanuts. I think the peanuts got dropped on the floor though. Do you still want them?

  19. #19 Nick Barnes
    October 3, 2007

    The blow-by-blow between Jc and Brain Hertz:

    In comment #60, Jc said this:

    You’re prestenting an issue here that has to be matched against the inability of the government to supply water at the market price. This usually means it is quite possibily underpriced and the wastage is much larger thatn a few burst pipes.

    Then in comment #69, Brain Hertz replied:

    You’re prestenting an issue here that has to be matched against the inability of the government to supply water at the market price. This usually means it is quite possibily underpriced and the wastage is much larger thatn a few burst pipes.

    So the solution is for the price to go up to the point at which a segment of the population can no longer afford to buy water?

    And then, in comment #73, Jc replied, arguing against himself:

    You’re prestenting an issue here that has to be matched against the inability of the government to supply water at the market price.

    It’s not the market price. it is the government mandated price. Most likely it is too cheap in places where it ought to be more expensive and too expensive in places where it ought to be cheaper. We don’t know. The present system is the difficulty the Soviets and the facsits found in price discovery.

    This usually means it is quite possibily underpriced and the wastage is much larger thatn a few burst pipes.

    You don’t know that until you allow the market to set the price in a constestable market.

    Thus all the words, and non-words (“prestenting”, “facsits”, “constestable”, “thatn”), in this part of comment #73 are Jc’s, whether or not quoted in the rarely-seen all bold style. I recommend he, or both of him, return to the Pierian spring.

  20. #20 Lee
    October 3, 2007

    “As it is, deregulating production without linking power costs to revenues and maintaining a moratorium on power plant construction was just about the worst combination of policy that California could’ve come up with had they been out to screw over their citizenry. It didn’t hurt Enron any though.”

    Majorajam, they DID set out to screw the citizenry it was very well planned. The dereg bill was largely written by Enron and PGE. PGE, despite the PR, did quite well. They split themselves into two businesses, one for generation and one for transmission. In doing so, they transferred nearly all revenues to the generation company, and nearly all costs and debts to the transmission branch. If you consider the two divisions as one, they set records for revenue and profits throughout the scam, but were able to declare bankruptcy in the cost-bearing transmission company, and shed costs and debt to further drive up their overall profits.

    This was all explicitly described by the SF Bay Guardian nearly two years before the summer where the dereg blew up. They exactly predicted what happened, and why, and got it right. Just for JC – the Guardian is a socialist weekly paper, and the ONLY news source that got it right.

    BTW, there was no moratorium on new construction. Up until a few years before deregulation, projections were for a long-term generating surplus, as we in California were decreasing per-capita demand at a wonderful rate. By the time those projections were starting to show a future market for electricity from new plants, about 5 years before dereg, the negotiations for dereg were ongoing, and no one wanted to build into a market where they didn’t know the regulatory structure. Within a month or two after dereg was passed, new plants were approved, and at least one large new plant was well under construction before the manipulated shortages started hitting.

    And they were manipulated shortages. The state kept a web page showing the status of electricity resources – I followed that page during that summer. We NEVER had a stage three alert, brownouts, or blackouts, unless at least 30% of our generating capacity was off line – more often, it was close to 40%. Electricity was being sold on hourly spot markets – I watched many hours where generating capacity was withdrawn for “mechanical problems” in the last 10 minutes before the spot auction, reducing supply and driving up prices, and then come back on line in the 10 minutes after the auction, creating more electricity to sell at the artificially high prices.

    PGE was doing this with its generating division, making huge money, while its transmission company was “losing money’ at the high prices, effectively transferring profits to the generating side while driving debt on the transmission side – which declared bankruptcy. I wish I could get away with that.

  21. #21 Bruce Moomaw
    October 3, 2007

    CBS News reprinted extensive actual phone transcripts of energy traders giggling and making obscene jokes about “screwing Grandma” by deliberately shutting down transmission stations to drive up the price — after, that is, the state of Washington finally forced Bush’s Justice Department to reulctantly give up those transcripts through the Freedom Of Information Act. (I’ll track down the URLs later tonight for y’all. They make for utterly fascinating reading, I assure you.) Whether the water distribution system physically allows similar market manipulation I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    I also see that Nick Barnes’ third paragraph in Post #118 reiterates my (obvious) point as to why Friedman’s apparent preference for millions of civil suits as an alternative to pollution taxes is, er, cretinous. (I must confess, however, that I’m still trying to figure out just how we got derailed onto this subject from Lambert’s original totally unrelated point that Mark Steyn’s column on Cate Blanchett is fact-free. Jc works in mysterious ways his deranged wonders to perform.)

  22. #22 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Let’s deal with the easiest demolition first , shall we:

    Professor Eli says:

    “Amazing, you quote Coase on Coase to jc and he think you have taken a position. Face it jc is AS software.”

    Look Gasman, your knee jerk reaction was to assert that Coase therom deals with pollution tax. That’s not the central element of Coase, Professor. Coase tries to explain how you deal with property rights effected by externalities. You behave exactly as my beagle did with food or the scent of a potential meal. He got himself killed chasing a scent.

    Don’t ever shout the word “tax” from across a busy street as it could cause Eli to get run over.

    Now I ask again, Eli. Do you agree with Coase and if so does that mean you have now become a libertarian?

  23. #23 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Bruce M

    The california power deregulation was/is a case study on how NOT to deregulate. I would add another element to that sorry tale. Don’t ever get Democrats to try their hand in deregulation as they will invariably fuck it up to no end. Gov Grey, who essentially lost his job on the issue through a recall was the stupidest Governor in the states history.

  24. #24 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Nick

    You’re totllay confused and it shows. I think you’re arguing against the computer. Frankly I have no idea what your talking about any more and I’m sure neither do you.

  25. #25 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Sod

    There is nothing in this tiny spot of the universe that you know that I don’t know. I have forgotten more than you know.

    You turned up here like a rooster- all feathered up and your now lying on the floor like a skinny plucked chicken. Put some clothes on. It’s embarrassing for you.

  26. #26 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Lee

    “This was all explicitly described by the SF Bay Guardian nearly two years before the summer where the dereg blew up. They exactly predicted what happened, and why, and got it right. Just for JC – the Guardian is a socialist weekly paper, and the ONLY news source that got it right.”

    You mean a broken clock is right at times? I’m sure that over the decades of that sorry paper’s existence it must got something right. Socialists are stupid people but they can also roll the dice and come up with a seven. big deal.

  27. #27 Lee
    October 3, 2007

    JC, California deregulated under Republican governor Pete Wilson. Wilson pushed it hard – at one point he threatened to veto any bill ever written by anyone who opposed the dereg.

    Governor Gray Davis (not Governor Grey) was left holding the bag. He did some things wrong, but a critical hole was created by the Republicans in Washington, who refused to intervene to stop interstate gaming of the California grid by traders and generators.

    Nice try, though.

  28. #28 Lee
    October 3, 2007

    jc, the Guardian didn’t ‘roll the dice.’ They did a great job of journalism, economic analysis and political analysis.

    I am far from a fan of socialism – Markets are essential, and require regulation to deal with externalities and with the tendency of wealth to accumulate unearned from generation to generation, and I believe moral societies provide a social safety net. I disagree with Guardian policy positions a lot. However, they are NOT stupid. They routinely do some of the best economic and political analysis to be found in the state of California – and your uninformed dismissal of that on the grounds that ‘socialists are stupid people’ just shows how utterly stupid you are, JC. Especially coming on the heals of your grandly pronounced falsehoods about the politics of the California deregulation.

  29. #29 Dano
    October 3, 2007

    Tell me why, again, anyone engages with this f’n clown?

    Thank you in advance so I can return to reading Tim’s stuff again.

    Best,

    D

  30. #30 Brain Hertz
    October 3, 2007

    Jc,
    Nick is clearly not confused; you are. Just go back over his post (or mine, where I described it with post numbers).

  31. #31 Eli Rabett
    October 3, 2007

    Coase described a pollution tax. jc, the AS machine shut down

    Under a system of Pigouvian taxes, the government charges the steel company for the damage done by its pollution–$10 per pound in this example. By doing so it converts the external cost into an internal cost–internalizes the externality. In deciding how much steel to produce and what price to sell it at, the company will now include the cost of its pollution–paid as an emission fee–along with other costs. In deciding how much pollution control equipment to buy, the company balances the cost of control against its benefits, and buys the optimal amount. So a system of emission fees can produce both an efficient amount of steel and an efficient amount of pollution control.

    In order to achieve that result, the government imposing the fees must be able to measure the cost imposed by pollution. But, unlike direct regulation, the use of emission fees does not require the government to measure the cost of preventing pollution–whether by installing air filters or by producing less steel. That will be done by the steel company, acting in its own interest.

  32. #32 Lee A. Arnold
    October 3, 2007

    Nick Barnes, exactly right.

    Bruce Moomaw, in the link you gave, David Friedman writes that the condition in which “any agreement that is in the mutual benefit of the parties concerned gets made” defines “zero transaction costs.” That is wrong, and an example of the persistent misunderstanding of Coase we also see here. Somehow people got it into their heads that Coase argued that privatization reduces costs. He didn’t, because it is gibberish.

    In fact he argued that market transactions may sometimes not be allocatively efficient, because there are ALWAYS transaction costs. In fact, he argued that’s why business firms exist: he asked, why aren’t all the transactions inside the firm run as market transactions too? Ans.: It would not be efficient.

  33. #33 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Dano

    As clowns go you’d take the the prize.

    The only thing I’ve read from you is putting people down who you disagree with. I amusingly recall a discussion you had with someone calling themselves Per some while ago who put you back in your coffin for being the shallow doofus you are. Recall? It was a fun read.

    Best

    JC

  34. #34 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Lee
    You need to apologize for your original distortion of Coase. Friedman has it right. I do too. You never did and now you’re back peddling at 50 miles per hour.

    Let me repeat, Coase tries to explain how best to resolve such issues over property rights and externalities.

    coase is closer to free market principles or at least free market believers can use Coase effectively. Socialists can’t by virtue of the fact that nearly all of you have no understanding of property rights and the few that do invariably screw it up.

    Your argument would be the similar as suggesting Milt Friedman’s support of taxation meant he supports all forms of taxation the socialists propose laving aside that he supported a flat rate of about 10%.

    Learn this lesson and you’re well on your way to learning something new today.

  35. #35 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Lee

    That’s correct, Wilson was the governor who mangled it up along with the Democratic state house. Grey Davis then came along and made things worse which is why he was the frist governor ever recalled in California.

    As usual the msrket gets a bad rap because public workers screw things up. Tll me again that want to contineu relying on these bozos to run your life…. or pertinently to run your water.

    If that scocialist paper got it right, it was an accident.

    However you may actually want to show me how they were “right” because quite frankly I don’t believe it.. Got a link?

  36. #36 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Eli

    Keep digging. You might pop up through my floor any day now.

  37. #37 Lee A. Arnold
    October 4, 2007

    Jc, why don’t you just state the Coase Theorem for us? It only takes less than twenty words. You are the one who brought it up, after all.

    Or shall I add your this to your silent capitulation that nuclear power could never survive in a truly free market?

  38. #38 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Jc, why don’t you just state the Coase Theorem for us?

    Dopey, there’s reams about it on this thread. Do you actually think I don’t know it? Please!

    The Gasman copied it , Friedman alluded to it as I have. You’re the only one to have got it wrong.

    “Or shall I add your this to your silent capitulation that nuclear power could never survive in a truly free market?”

    Of course nuke couldn’t survive in a free market, because the free market would choose the cheapest option of producing power, which at this stage is from Coal etc. However Nuke is the best alternative after coal in price unless you think cow farts could produce more cheaply and in abundance. The Gasman could help you figuring all this out for you. We’re still a long way off from solar being attractive but eventually we could get there.

    I know…. You’re going to bring up the cost of externalities and that we need to price emissions. This is where Coarse comes in and would suggest we apply a carbon tax to neutralize the cost of emissions. So nuke would be a terrific option as it is clean and efficient in terms of producing large-scale power. However strangle it with regulation and we’re fucked.

    The cost of nuke is the cost of capital and the cost of dealing with the regulatory issues. Nuke fuel only forms a small part of that. The cost of capital is what it is, however even this side will be effected by the most contentious cost which is the cost of maintaining within the regulatory bounds.

  39. #39 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Here’s what I want to know from you.

    Do you think the cost of emissions ought to be priced at level where solar and it’s second derviative-wind- become “economic” or do think we should price it at the level which would introduce nuke?

    Come on, give it a shot.

  40. #40 Lee A. Arnold
    October 4, 2007

    The Coase Theorem has NOT been stated on this thread, so far as I know. There has been discussion ABOUT it, but it would appear that everybody is waiting for you to state it.

    It’s very easy to do. It’s less than twenty words. You can even copy and paste it from somewhere.

    AND — you are not paying attention on nukes either! My question was, are you free market believers going to remove the $10 billion cap on liability insurance per U.S. nuke plant? Or does the U.S. government subsidy appeal to you here? Give it a shot.

  41. #41 Brain Hertz
    October 4, 2007

    Dopey, there’s reams about it on this thread. Do you actually think I don’t know it? Please!

    The Gasman copied it , Friedman alluded to it as I have. You’re the only one to have got it wrong.

    Shorter Jc:

    “I don’t need to bother with facts. You just need to understand that I’m right.”

  42. #42 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Lee asks a question however he hasn’t answered mine yet. I’m still waiting.

    Brian.

    Thinks I’m short on facts. Brian almost every assertion I have made has been supported by facts.

    (Another feathered up rooster lying on the floor looking like that other dead skinny plucked chicken.

    All we need is Dano the other plucked rooster to offer his insightful missives (not).

    You guys are so funny.

    Lee;

    I’ll have the answer please.

  43. #43 bruce Moomaw
    October 4, 2007

    Paging Peregrin Took: there is clearly a troll here that badly needs to be killed.

  44. #44 Nick Barnes
    October 4, 2007

    More on Coase here and here.

  45. #45 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Coase theory helps people to figure ways in dealing with externalities when there competing interest derived from property rights.

    It is not as you suggest a theory that movers us away from privatizations and private ownership.

    That’s why I have suggested from an early point in this long running thread that socialists cannot use Coase to help them. The prime reason is that socialists can’t conceive or pay little regard to private property rights compared to those from the free market perspective.

    That’s why I have maintained that your use of Coase in your defense of socialist/statist practices and ideas is laughable in the extreme. In fact Coase has no relevance to socialism/statism when you think about it. The state is paramount in a socialist world so the state would decide the issue of externality while not much regard is afforded to ownership and the question of property rights.. That’s a prime reason why statism has always failed in the end and why the environment in places like Eastern Europe was simply degraded dung heaps.

    Therefore in a strict sense, you are correct in saying that Coase is not discussing free markets and the question of whether privatization off superior outcome to statism. He doesn’t have to because it is almost axiomatic.

    This is what I have trying to knock into you, lee. All through and you still don’t quite get it.

  46. #46 sod
    October 4, 2007

    Sod

    There is nothing in this tiny spot of the universe that you know that I don’t know. I have forgotten more than you know.

    You turned up here like a rooster- all feathered up and your now lying on the floor like a skinny plucked chicken. Put some clothes on. It’s embarrassing for you.

    nice one. i note that you NEVER write anything of substance, but just some random rumblings and personal attacks.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/09/experiments_you_can_do_with_ma.php#comment-588913

    you reply WITH random rumblings, personal attacks and NO substance at all.

    thanks for making my point.

    but to comment on your latest rumblings:

    i am rather sure that i know MORE about policy advice than you do!
    i did study macro economics. my teacher was leading this part of the department and was at the time ADVICING our government on pretty much the things we are talking about.

    so while i do not know ho much you forgot, i can surely tell you that you were WRONG about me!

    Jc has failed to make any remark of substance on the topic. the reason is pretty obvious. drinking water seems to be a rather WEAK point of the COAS Theorem:

    If the resources within a property are mobile. One example is groundwater, or the continental water basins, which move water under countless properties.

    http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-chicoase.htm

    do not expect Jc to make any meaningful comment on the subject. he would immediately been proven wrong, and that wouldn t go well with his rather highish self perception…

  47. #47 sod
    October 4, 2007

    Do you think the cost of emissions ought to be priced at level where solar and it’s second derviative-wind- become “economic” or do think we should price it at the level which would introduce nuke?

    easy one. solar will be enough.

  48. #48 sod
    October 4, 2007

    That’s why I have suggested from an early point in this long running thread that socialists cannot use Coase to help them.

    YOU were the one who brought up the Coase theoreme:

    http://tinyurl.com/3cp9zu

    i did NOT use the Coase theoreme for anything. i think it is a very theoretic idea, with little use in real live and basically NONE AT ALL for the subjects that we are discussing.

    The Coase theorem: Given well-defined property rights, low bargaining costs, perfect competition, perfect information and the absence of wealth and income effects, resources will be used efficiently and identically regardless of who owns them.

    as basic logic will tell you: with NONE of those PREMISES fulfilled, no CONCLUSION can be drawn.

  49. #49 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    ” easy one. solar will be enough.” (is there a higher plain?)

    figured out the cost/ benefit here Mr. Macromancer? If it’s so easy you may wish to explain the us the figures you applied in figuring this was easy. in other words tell us the cost, the economic damage that would cause in dollars along with the comparison to the costs of not acting.

    I’m asking this because even using Stern’s scenario it would be more cost effective not to act.

    See you on the other side of hell.

  50. #50 sod
    October 4, 2007

    figured out the cost/ benefit here Mr. Macromancer? If it’s so easy you may wish to explain the us the figures you applied in figuring this was easy. in other words tell us the cost, the economic damage that would cause in dollars along with the comparison to the costs of not acting.

    no need to use any figures at all. instead i just take a look at your beloved Coase theoreme:

    to replace everything with solar power, all that needs to be done is building a lot of solar panels.

    on the other hand:
    to replace everything with nuclear power, before you can even build a SINGLE plant, you will have to buy property rights from millions from the anti-nuclear power crowd worldwide. good luck.

    Jc, for someone who has forgotten more than i ever knew, you are making rather weak claims.

  51. #51 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Numbers please, Sod. No messing around here just the numbers in the raw. I wann see a CBA done even in primitive form.

    If you can’t give us the numbers then say so and all will forgiven but don’t mess us around any longer.

  52. #52 Eli Rabett
    October 4, 2007

    Well jc, seems that you feel free to demand work from everyone else without paying for it. sod, I am sure, will be happy to provide the calculations at a businesslike rate and set up an account you can forward the money to.

  53. #53 Majorajam
    October 4, 2007

    Jc, I remain most interested in your business model for distributing water without pipes and pumping stations. I’m already lining up investors just waiting for you to share a slice of your prodigious acumen so I can go out and revolutionize the industry.

    As an aside, it’s pretty rich of you to be requesting any facts, let alone a CBA, when through plenty of characters blathered across this thread, you haven’t penned a single one. Even after being asked. Also fyi Jc, between arguing with yourself, not arguing and generally acting like a ninny, no one here takes you seriously, least of all me, though I’ll admit some guilty pleasure in toying around with you for a while. Ta ta, nnn ta ta.

  54. #54 Majorajam
    October 4, 2007

    Bruce, at the time of the California energy crisis, not a single new power plant had been brought on-line in the state for 12 years. While there was never a moratorium on construction declared per se, the power of NIMBY politics in the state was de facto the same. Meanwhile demographic and economic growth in the tech boom 90′s was legion, the latter circa 4% and the former especially when you take into account migration (both foreign born and the gold rush dot commer variety). This all meant that power consumption was increasing rapidly and that has all the makings of a problem. The bottom line is that California was not adequately supplied, as indicated by the extent it relied on out of state production and its low reserve ratio, (or the extent to which it threw caution to the wind on Diablo Canyon, which was operating flat out despite erstwhile concerns that it should be run at well below capacity). As it happened, power producers knew that power reserve was exceedingly low, especially in consideration of the poor transmission lines from out of state. They knew that the PG&E was mandated to keep the grid up no matter the cost, and so they manipulated the system. I don’t think the methods and extent of the collusion has ever come out, although it appears at least Enron played a role in coordinating it. What is clear is that in such a situation as California was, over a barrel with its eyes closed, it takes very very little to get it done. It also doesn’t help when you have speculators able to control the flow of the good they’re speculating on.

    I don’t agree that the deregulation set out to end up the crisis five years hence, (a long term plan where conspiracies are concerned), although I allow it’s possible. I think it’s more probably that Wilson could only get deregulation through politically if the prices to the end user remained fixed. It should be noted as you have though that the crisis was mostly a result of manipulation, which was made possible by the rules governing PG&E’s operation of the grid and governing power trading, and of course the fact that California’s spare capacity was miniscule meaning one plant could affect prices dramatically by going offline. This means that you’d have to believe the deregulation’s intent was to allow for manipulation, which IMO is a tough sell.

    About PG&E, since the privatization didn’t cover transmission, which is the one part they got right, PG&E of course would have to split into two different entities, the regulated and the unregulated. The holding company remained the same though, and it’s fine if you don’t want to buy that PG&E got burned by the crisis, but my mother was holding that stock at the time, and I can tell you that she wasn’t profiting on the position. Quite the opposite. What’s more, it makes sense from a corporate finance standpoint for a very low risk utility business to maintain financial leverage, rather than the power production business where revenue volatility can be huge (power is about the most volatile commodity on the planet, another element in the causation for the crisis). Whether the amount of leverage maintained on the transmission business was sound is another issue, but I can point to plenty of regulated utilities that carry far too much debt.

    The bottom line is that you shouldn’t get your news analysis from a socialist paper any more than you should Fox news. It may cover things that other outlets will miss, but it will also omit plenty that it shouldn’t. IMHO.

  55. #55 Lee A. Arnold
    October 4, 2007

    Sorry, Jc, questions are to be answered in order. There is a chain of logic upon which they occurred. It was instigated by you. First, state the Coase Theorem. Then you can explain properly why it has anything to do with privatization, for or against. No more secondhand gibberish, transcribed from other religious believers in free markets.

    Next, explain why a libertarian wants to expand nuclear power’s corporate welfare police state. That comes from way up the thread, too.

    Then and only then, I’ll give you the price point on solar.

  56. #56 Lee A. Arnold
    October 4, 2007

    Marion Delgado has it right. And it makes a fascinating study. Why is it that libertarians think they have the answers, and are always so ignorant of history and ecology? Every one of them. Just like the old Left. The one here characterized himself as a “free market believer.” Maybe that’s it: it is really “True Believer” stuff, right out of Eric Hoffer, and updated to apply to the Right. The certainty precedes the facts, and since there are so many facts, they are easily bent to the certainty. Try to pin down one concept for scrutiny: it is then avoided, and more nonsense is brought in, instead. While the argumentation continues to rely upon simple binary oppositions, the false simulacrum of rational discourse. For example, notice how the rest are characterized as socialists: absolute nonsense, of course, but the discourse is structured to need an easy enemy, a devil. Mark Steyn sometimes does almost the same thing.

  57. #57 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Come on Eli, don’t be like that. I gave Lee wanted he wanted , which was a 20 word summation of Coase’s theory.

    I helped you learn something new, didn’t I? Look how you ran to greet to Coase.

    Then look at the kids jumping around reading and talking about Coase like they just received a new toy for Xmas. It’s a fun feeling making so many people happy.

    On a serious note, Eli. Look I respect what you do for a living and I’m damned sure you know a great about the field you teach in. I wouldn’t even try to learn the most basic stuff you teach. So there, I’ve offered you a decent complement.

    I think though there is a need to marry up the science of AGW with the economics and try to figure out the neatest path. I’m a little worried that the science guys don’t pay much attention to this critical area in their thinking.

    And yes the market, particularly the free market guys have a great deal to offer.

    Stern was a shambles by the way. He used 1/70 of the cost of capital that is normally applied to long-term estimates. Even with his figuring I can’t quite see how we should move to any substantial action towards heavy-duty mitigation

  58. #58 Lee
    October 4, 2007

    Majorajam,

    i don;t get my news form ANY one source. I was simply pointing out JC’s stupidity in asserting that ‘socialists are stupid people”, in the context of seeign the Guardian repeatedly doign superb journalism. One has to read between the ideology, but that is true of any source.

    Lack of plant construction was not due to NIMBYism. Most of teh 9well0-founded, IMO) NIMBY reactions were to emergency generating plants and peaking plants for specific entities, usually planned to be sited right next door to residential areas. Emergency diesel plants are hugely polluting. Lack fo construction was due to lack of demand early, and then regulatory uncertainty later.
    California was not all that short of surplus capacity. Days of brownouts and blackouts were days with at least 30% of capacity off line. What happened is that the utilities found it profitable to shut off enough capacity to CREATE marginal reserve capacity, and then exploit that marginal reserve to drive up prices.

    And JC actually has one good point – even s stopped clock… The dereg scam was caused by a combination of legislative stupidity/cupidity in CA, regulatory stupidity/cupidity in Washington, and market manipulation by industry. I don’t use the “c” word much, but I’m willing to call this one a conspiracy.

    But why JC assumes that deregulated markets would be any less subject to manipulation is beyond me. It happens all the time in unregulated markets.

  59. #59 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Major

    Lee asked me for a 20 word or less explanation of the coase theory which I supplied. Don’t know what more I can offer him.

    Credit where credit’s due . That was a mighty good explanation of the california power crisis although I think you left out a few things that may be pertinent to the issue. you hit the nail on the head in that they had a fixed priced deal in state for the supply of power while the cost of producing it is quite variable. Therein lies the problem. It is also the main reason why the outside grid was never added to. Firms have a cost of capital to work with and varying typs of investment opportunities so you would expect rational thinking to lead to the conclusion that you go for the deals that offer the best upside. California didn’t offer much of an updside with its fixd price so firms went elsewhere. It wasn’t collusion.

    Water.

    You’re asking me to offer you a plan to deregulate the water business around around the world. However you’re omitting where all this came from. I made the reasonable at least what i consider reasonable point that the main reason we have a water problem in some parts of the west is that the command and control system is starting to list to the side. Again the same problems, NIMBYISM, lack of invesmtment and lack of price signal.

    I know a little about the water story because I invested in a fund a few years back the focuses on the water business around the world. I arrive at the conclusion that this is a pretty decent investment opportunity because of the potentential growth prospects, the capital limitation prospects of governments because of budget constraints etc.

    Its a great little earner. Last 4/5 of years I have been getting a return ranging from 15 to 30%. And it still looks like heading solidly north.

    So you aksed me for my prospectus!!!! One of the big firms carries this fund as an open ended fund. Let me know if you ant the name of the firm and I’ll be happy to supply it.

  60. #60 Lee A. Arnold
    October 4, 2007

    Sorry, Jc, you did not state the Coase Theorem. Although someone else has since stated a close approximation of it… Find it if you can! Or if you care — it destroys your argument.

  61. #61 Lee A. Arnold
    October 4, 2007

    Nick Barnes, great stuff and thank you for that second link, which is very thoughtful. Although I think it mischaracterizes Coase a little, if not his “followers.” He was a lightweight on ecological theory and the ethics proceeding from it, of course. But his main argument, (and he was explicit about it,) was concerned with describing the abstract world of economic theory with its zero transaction costs, not with making policy pronouncements like our libertarian friend here. Putting the “Nature of the Firm” and “Social Cost” together, Coase indicated the reconstruction of the entirely of economics, as he himself believes must happen. The subject gets divided into two equal halves: market transactions, and institutions. Institutions describe rules, and so create things like business firms, NGO’s, and governments (Coase called government a sort of “superfirm.”) Putting this new view together with our present circumstances, the question goes beyond Coase’s examples, to how to manage the mounting social (and environmental) transactions costs of an ever more complex society, while preserving freedom. Markets don’t do it necessarily. We are going to need a change in institutions. I think this is going to be very important in the near future.

  62. #62 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Lee>

    Socialism…and what libertarians see.

    I don’t speak for anyone except myself. I see socialism as statism. They are the same thing and the term is interchangeable in my book. Both big parties are statist although one party shows more signs of that disease while the other preaches free markets but doesn’t go near it.

    Yes, I see statism as the very essence of the law of best intentions being the yellow brick road to hell. There is very little the government can achieve other than the bear minimum that the market can’t do better save policing, the courts and military for now. Everything else should be privatized.

    But I accept privatization has its problems: not from the efficiency angle but from the execution side. It’s very important to get that right.

    Take Australia for example. Our largest telco was a government owned entity until very recently. Privatizing changed it a little but it didn’t change things drastically. That’s because the old monopoly was a government grown entity. It came out of the loins of the government jackal.
    If we had a free market in telco since the introduction of the telephone that industry would look remarkably different to what it does now.

  63. #63 Lee
    October 4, 2007

    JC, private, non-regulated companies manipulate markets all the time. Regulation is a two-edges sword, but forgetting that much of our regulatory structure arose from attempts to fix market scamming in unregulated industries, is simply historical naivete, at best.

    and yo skirted my point – it isn’t that ‘privatization; ahs problems, it is that unregulated business has problems, because there is always a potential individual interest in scamming the system for maximum personal gain.

    Businesses can not exist without government institutions. Contract law is law. Judicial interpretation and remedy comes from government institutions – if they didn’t exist from our state, businesses would have to institute them, and create their own government. We aren’t arguing about whether there shoudl be government (or controlling institution) presense – we are arguying over how much is desireable, whether you see that or not.

    There is no system immune to scamming and gaming. The libertarian fantasy is as flawed as any other – it is simply vulnerable to different kinds of gaming and different risks. Your kind of ideological adherence to the idea that a different system fixes everything, is simply ‘magic bullet’ wishful thinking.

    I participate in an anarchist study group regularly, with some of teh biggest vices in modern anarchist thought in attendance. My favorite thing to do is show how the various flavors of anarchism – free market, primitivist, ‘lifestyle’ etc – are all subject to internal instabilities that lead to reinstitution of state governments or controlling institutions of some kind, usually on termsm not favorable to individual liberty.

  64. #64 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    “JC, private, non-regulated companies manipulate markets all the time. Regulation is a two-edges sword, but forgetting that much of our regulatory structure arose from attempts to fix market scamming in unregulated industries, is simply historical naivete, at best.”

    What scamming is that Lee? Firms are there to maximize returns to shareholders. No one forces people to shop at Walmart. Consumers make that choice because that firm is offering a better price and shopping experience than its competitors. Did anyone elver force you to go to Walmart or Office Depot?

    “and yo skirted my point – it isn’t that ‘privatization; ahs problems, it is that unregulated business has problems, because there is always a potential individual interest in scamming the system for maximum personal gain.”
    Well butter my toast with a carving knife. Of course firms try to make as much money as they can. But they only do this by serving their master: the customer.

    —-
    “Businesses can not exist without government institutions. Contract law is law. Judicial interpretation and remedy comes from government institutions – if they didn’t exist from our state, businesses would have to institute them, and create their own government.”
    I never argued we don’t need government. But nearly all things government does could be better done thought the market process. As for contract law and the rule of law…free markets could not exist without the rule of law and contract law. In fact it is possibly the one factor that distinguishes wealthy nations from poor ones. A recent study showed that nations could become wealthy only if this ingredient was part of the mark up despite law of resources. It’s the big cahoona.

    “There is no system immune to scamming and gaming. The libertarian fantasy is as flawed as any other – it is simply vulnerable to different kinds of gaming and different risks. Your kind of ideological adherence to the idea that a different system fixes everything, is simply ‘magic bullet’ wishful thinking.”
    Gaming and scamming is fraud. Criminal and tort law is well developed to deal with that.
    “I participate in an anarchist study group regularly, with some of teh biggest vices in modern anarchist thought in attendance. My favorite thing to do is show how the various flavors of anarchism – free market, primitivist, ‘lifestyle’ etc – are all subject to internal instabilities that lead to reinstitution of state governments or controlling institutions of some kind, usually on termsm not favorable to individual liberty.”
    What you’re seeing are people reaching agreements, bargaining and making trade offs. There is nothing at all surprising about that. What also not surprising is that people naturally head for regulation when there is something they don’t like. It is something we should all be worried about and avoid. We are after all creatures of habit and culture. Living in a statist culture will lead to people looking for statist solutions.

  65. #65 Jc
    October 4, 2007

    Correction…….possibly the one factor that distinguishes wealthy nations from poor ones. A recent study showed that nations could become wealthy only if this ingredient was part of the mark up despite a large amount of resources.

  66. #66 Majorajam
    October 4, 2007

    Lee, I saw a table that put average reserve capacity for the summer of 2001 at around 20%. This very low number, (given that achieving capacity is impossible and more importantly the huge variability in demand), belies the figures that you are citing, so I would ideally like to see your source if possible. I will try to dig up mine in the meantime. As regards plant construction, NIMBY/environmental concerns were indeed the driving factor. When you consider the lead time in getting a power plant approved and constructed, (almost exclusively gas in California), there is a huge gap going back to the early 80s where no such project was initiated (which the state could afford this only as it grew to increasingly depend on Northwest imports). That the stalemate was broken by incentives instilled by deregulation is hardly an argument against (although I think the cause was more likely that the state finally began to see the writing on the wall). If you don’t believe me you should look into current events signaling that this dynamic continues, e.g. travails in building a LNG facility, recent problems with a Northern Californian plan to build a desalinization plant, (scrapped when they realized it required building a power plant to fuel it), or the state’s being robbed blind by refiners because they refuse to invest in any new capacity. All of this is going on courtesy of the NIMBY lobby. The LNG issue is especially telling in its echoes of the energy crisis. California is supremely dependant on gas for power production as well as residential use, and an LNG facility is really the only way to ensure supplies can keep pace with demand. If I were you, I wouldn’t let the candle supply get too low.

    As regards the ‘c’ word, you’re happy to put it out there, but you should recognize you have no evidence and have not stated a compelling case. You refer to stupidity, but this is not the hallmark of a conspiracy. It’s not that I’m above allegations without evidence by the way- I continue to be convinced the oil majors are gaming the US gasoline market big time, through pipeline and refinery chicanery, accidents, maintenance, discouraging new supply etc., but I can’t prove it, (short of subpoenas, which don’t get issued on trillion dollar industries, I can’t expect more). However, I can make a compelling argument using anecdotal and circumstantial evidence that this is going on, which would be my standard for implying that the state gov was in cahoots back in 96. Anyway, I’ve rambled for long enough. Long story short, I agree with you on the big things, less so on the causes and other sundry details.

  67. #67 Lee A. Arnold
    October 4, 2007

    Jc #164, absolutely wrong, and that’s the lynchpin of your argument. You appear to have swallowed Hayek’s mischaracterization of history. But despite The Road to Serfdom, government regulation has NEVER led to full-blown socialism in the real world. And it never will, as long as there is freedom of speech and democracy. The People will not allow it, as we often see.

    Then Milton Friedman came along and argued the double-inverse of Hayek: from “regulation leads to socialism,” on to: “capitalism precedes freedom.” That also is historically untrue, although it has been used in rightwing thinktank rhetoric. Capitalism is not primary to freedom. Freedom is preserved by defending a Constitution.

  68. #68 sod
    October 4, 2007

    Numbers please, Sod. No messing around here just the numbers in the raw. I wann see a CBA done even in primitive form.

    If you can’t give us the numbers then say so and all will forgiven but don’t mess us around any longer.

    lol, you telling me not to mess around but to bring facts and numbers is pretty bizarre.

    you bring ZERO substance, but ask for it. strange.

    but here is my offer:

    you bring a calculation by any insurance, for worldwide coverage against claims caused by a nuclear accident, and i will do the calculation to the best of my abilities. deal?

  69. #69 sod
    October 4, 2007

    Well jc, seems that you feel free to demand work from everyone else without paying for it. sod, I am sure, will be happy to provide the calculations at a businesslike rate and set up an account you can forward the money to.

    i will indeed. and i will even wait until he has cashed in on his pipeless water supply deal!

  70. #70 Marion Delgado
    October 5, 2007

    I don’t think the trolls LIKE it when you ignore their personalities and tantrums and calmly refute their arguments. So let’s keep doing that.

    There’s a definite gangrene stench of desparation to your troll assault lately, Tim. The ravings way less lucid, zero cites, and long rants with far fewer nouns and way more adjectives.

    They’re CRACKING.

  71. #71 Jc
    October 5, 2007

    Good point Marion. Accept it and move on, sod.

  72. #72 Nick Barnes
    October 5, 2007

    But Marion, these trolls are more fun!

  73. #73 Ian Gould
    December 22, 2007

    “When did you last buy your government supplied food such as meat and veggies.”

    When did you last go for n extended period eating food supplied by a non-regulated free market system without government regulation like in, say, Mexico?