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 Zeno
    September 29, 2007

    As her fellow Antipodean, the Aussie wag Tim Blair, observed: “Not exactly Pickfair, is it?”

    It doubles one’s pleasure when Steyn quotes Blair. Does that make it double-sludge or sludge-squared? Perhaps the distinction doesn’t matter. They’re both inveterate sludge-packers.

  2. #2 Tony
    September 29, 2007

    Oh, the stories those fanatical copy editors must have…

  3. #3 bigcitylib
    September 29, 2007

    It was Steyn’s strident defence of Conrad Black that signalled the fact that Mr. Black was guilty guilty guilty. Don’t know who Conrad Black is? He’s a moderately successful publisher of tabloid newspapers who essentially made Steyn’s journalistic career and is now headed for the pokey. If you were a certain class of Conservative Canadian,though, you would grovel at the sound of his name.

  4. #4 Jc
    September 29, 2007

    Water is of course one of those non renewbale resources that once it’s used up we will never see another drop. I’m very sympathetic to Kate’s intellectual abilities and not her great looks of course..

  5. #5 dhogaza
    September 29, 2007

    Water is of course one of those non renewbale resources that once it’s used up we will never see another drop. I’m very sympathetic to Kate’s intellectual abilities and not her great looks of course..

    You think you’re posting clever satire, but unknown to you (apparently) you’re right in many cases.

    When you deplete an aquifer in a few decades that has taken thousands of years to fill up, then for many generations this represents a non-renewable resource.

    Sure, humans 10,000 years distant might see the aquifer replenished, but that’s not the point.

    But then again you’d know this if you weren’t such a fucking idiot.

  6. #6 Jc
    September 30, 2007

    Hoggsie:

    Don’t be so silly. Most of our water supplies come from what comes down in a cloud, not what was in the ground.

    3/5′s of the world is water, dummy. Price it correctly and there isn’t a problem especially for the rich world in terms of conversion if needed.

    Water that is below ground eventually is replished from a rain cloud. Sure you’re not one of these people who think that water is made like abiotic oil.

    And another thing. Kate’s carbon paw print could be bigger than if the brain dead twtit lived in a smaller house and used town water.

  7. #7 Mp
    September 30, 2007

    Jc, you dummy, can you please be clearer, you idiot, about whether or not you believe that it is bad thing for someone to use grey water recycling, solar power etc? Personally I am finding it hard to understand exactly why you, fucking moron, think it is deserving of ridicule.

    How did I do, did I get it right? Is this how one gets one’s trolling point-scoring bullshit heard…?

  8. #8 Calton Bolick
    September 30, 2007

    Price it correctly and there isn’t a problem

    Ah, sure sign of a Randoid, the uncritical worship of the free market.

  9. #9 mndean
    September 30, 2007

    As I always said, he’s a Steyn on journalism. Nay, a Steyn on humanity. Sigh, I know, but one must have some juvenile fun now and then at the mendacious creep’s expense.

  10. #10 Tim Lambert
    September 30, 2007

    Sorry JC, but the market thinks that Cate is worth more than you.

  11. #11 pseudonymous in nc
    September 30, 2007

    The shit that ‘Shit’ Steyn serves up is, apparently, a renewable resource. It only looks recycled.

  12. #12 Paul S
    September 30, 2007

    ==”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.”==

    Another case of vainglorious environmentalism. A smaller house? Ya gotta be kiddin’! And is this her main mansion or is it just a summer cottage?

  13. #13 Jc
    September 30, 2007

    “Sorry JC, but the market thinks that Cate is worth more than you.”

    I know, Tim, proving once again the market knows best…. for actors. Is she a member of F.A.G (derived from Team America) Film Actors Guild. Beauty beats brains at every turn.

    MP

    You’re obviously suffering another incident of blog rage. As your parole officer I have to warn you that another incident like that will automatically mean you go back to prison.

  14. #14 Jc
    September 30, 2007

    Calton Bolick :

    “Price it correctly and there isn’t a problem

    Ah, sure sign of a Randoid, the uncritical worship of the free market.”

    Bollicks, Calton. Can I humbly ask if that is your real name.

  15. #15 Toby
    September 30, 2007

    I turned heavily against Mark Steyn when I read his “We’re losing the war because we didn’t kill enough Iraqis at the start” column. That was in 2005, I think, before the Lancet surveys, which must have cheered him up enormously. Apparently, Steyn believes a couple of Hiroshimas or Dresdens would have nipped the Iraq insurgency neatly in the bud, or even sooner.

    The newspaper that published Steyn here in Ireland (The Irish Times) dropped his column soon afterwards, a result I think of the protests at his outrageous remarks.

    Steyn was written that column sometime after he went all dewy-eyed and emotional about the “right to life” of a brain-dead American woman, Terry Schiavo.

    Anyone who could write those columns without a twinge of conscience, or a slight feeling of hypocrisy, is either a raving idiot or a psychopath who can convince himself that even his worst impulses are intrinsically moral. Steyn, I surmise, is a mixture of both.

  16. #16 Jc
    September 30, 2007

    Very funny, Tim:
    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:

    Never realized you had a good sense of humor (i did actually)….. unlike the mirthless mammals that populate this site in the wee hours across the GMT.

    (That reminds me, where’s Marion Delagardo today demanding another head to roll from the guillotine. Man, that’s one hell of an intolerant, angry gal.)

    One slight problem With your comment though. I’am afraid Mark Styen is right about the NYTimes. When Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Mo Do are populating the op-ed section you not only know it’s a fact-free zone, you may also reach the conclusion that you are quite close to singularity (of insanity). It’s the zone from where no sane thoughts could ever escape.

    Some while ago the NYTimes (ombudsamn) actually came out and said they are far loser with the facts when it comes to opinion columns. One reason they appointed such a person was because of constant issues with with complaints about the paper’s dishonesty.

    No wonder, with that lot!!!!!

  17. #17 Eli Rabett
    September 30, 2007

    Ah jc you ignorant slut the issue is fresh water of which there is an undersupply. Of course we would be happy to kill your garden with sea water.

  18. #18 Geoff
    September 30, 2007

    The New York Times can get sloppy with the facts but has anyone bothered to read MacLeans since Rogers bought it out and Steyn started writing for it? Sheesh! I’d take the NYT anyday.

  19. #19 Jc
    September 30, 2007

    How do you figure there is an undersupply, Eli, you big time science teacher you. Most water systems are supplied by governments around the world so we really don’t know what the real price for water actually is most often. With a Soviet command and control system we invariably see shortages develop.

    My point about sea water is that we could see large scale desalination systems begin to operate if the price signal was allowed to work as well as material changes in conservation practices by buyers.

    There is no shortage of water, Eli, that’s just you being too silly for words.

    We would also begin to see such things as efficiences begin with water intensive farming leaving Sth Cal and moving to Sth Am for such things as large scale fruit production.

    Eli, you have been hanging round campus for too long. Grow up boyo and get in the real world. Jeesh.

  20. #20 dhogaza
    September 30, 2007

    JC:

    We would also begin to see such things as efficiences begin with water intensive farming leaving Sth Cal and moving to Sth Am for such things as large scale fruit production.

    Or, mmmm, the recycling of grey water, eh, JC?

    Much cheaper and less disruptive to the local economy than outsourcing ag production.

  21. #21 Tim Lambert
    September 30, 2007

    Sydney is getting a desalinisation plant which will cost us two billion dollars. Seems that greywater recycling might be cheaper, but whatever.

  22. #22 Jc
    September 30, 2007

    Hoggise

    “Much cheaper and less disruptive to the local economy than outsourcing ag production.”

    Only because the rest of the state is forced to subsidize an industry that should never set up in South Cal. If you removed the subsidies the industry would fold and people in Sth Am would be able to earn a better living supplying the Nth AM market efficiently produced food.

    The water subsidy to Cal farmers is massively distortive.

    Tim L

    Grey is dervived from clear water. If it doesn’t rain in Sydney you don’t have either. The desal plant is a reasonable insurance policy and we don’t have to always live with the threat of restrictions.

    Privitize it and let the market the decide the real price of water and the best way to supply needs.

  23. #23 dhogaza
    September 30, 2007

    Only because the rest of the state is forced to subsidize an industry that should never set up in South Cal. If you removed the subsidies the industry would fold and people in Sth Am would be able to earn a better living supplying the Nth AM market efficiently produced food.

    JC has the charming disconnect from reality that South American farmers don’t benefit from direct and indirect subsities.

    Sigh …

  24. #24 dhogaza
    September 30, 2007

    If south american subsities don’t exist, then why would we have the “Brazilian Farm Subsidies News”?

    http://agriculture.einnews.com/news/brazil-farm-subsidies

  25. #25 Eli Rabett
    October 1, 2007

    Ah Jc you ignorant slut, what do you propose to use for energy to run desalinisation plants? It must be fun living there in the sugarloaf mountains where the majic market makes everything free.

    jc has many disconects from reality, few charming.

  26. #26 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    Hoggise:

    So you let them subsidize to their hearts content. As the American consumer you would be better off if they continued to make produce cheaper for you by the Brazilian government funding it. Never look a gift hourse in the mouth.

    In any event, it would be different places producing the fruit and veggies. Central Aemrica, Columbia etc. Places with plenty of water that are itching at the bit to gain bigger access to the massive north American markets.

    Cal has a big water problem brought about by massive subsidies towards farming practices that should never have taken off but for silly water pricing methods.

    Giving this game away would also reduce the illegal issues is some way as incomes rose in Sth Am as a result.

    We have he same issues in Oz.

    Water isn’t in short supply. It’s just priced incorrectly in most places thereby causing misallocation.

  27. #27 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    Eli’s back with the equivalent of the killer app.

    Gee whiz mergatroid you got me there. In this case Mergatroid and his mind bender.

    Eli, dude, stick a nuke power plant beside a desal one and you could empty out the pacific in a week :-)

    Please provide a list of your limitations and I will tell you what the possibilities are within the scope of the conditions you set. But I suggest you try not to make too many limits as we could end up having to shower once per week.

    MIT technology report thinks they can reduce the cost of desal by up to 80% with a nifty carbon nanotube filter in a few years time.

  28. #28 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    Hoggsie:

    Cheap water subsidies to West Coast farmers is a shockingly bad method of resource allocation. It should never have happened and and it ought to stop immiediately.

    The US particularly California which is about the wealhtiest region in the world can make far better use of scarce capital than to put it into fruit and market garden farming. A great deal of that land could be used for natural reclamation. There would also be far less pressure on water demand up and down the state.

    Eg:
    Colombia would be a natural orchid for the US. It has plentiful water resources and produces up to 180 different kinds of fuits. Doing away with Cal farm subsidies would be a massive boost to Sth Am farmers that would make these countries wealth in a short period of time. Moreover the US would receive a boost as well- cheaper food supplies and a capital structure that is focused on what it does best. The Colombians are also best able to apply intense farming per acreage due to water supply and soil richness.

    I keep repeating to you guys that a major cause of our problems are the result government induced distortions. Remove those and we’re on our way to a more efficient cleaner enviroment with more nations increasing their wealth status.

  29. #29 Marion Delgado
    October 1, 2007

    Nicely summarized, Tim, and indeed, this is a big benefit of internet stuff – that you can show several articles so immediately. The goal of a Steyn is to dribble out the lies so you’ve forgotten the last iteration before you see the next.

  30. #30 Marion Delgado
    October 1, 2007

    When the trolls bring up Austrian arguments about the distortion of “so much” government, I simply say, that’s not my rule. I won’t be part of revisionism and denial about privatization failures, deregulation failures, or any other market failures simply for the voodoo reason that if there’s even one regulation or one commons or one co-op anywhere on Earth, the butterfly-wing fragile hothouse flower that is free market economics simply can’t be held responsible, since that just RUINS it. If that’s the case, then that’s yet another failure of the system, and a deal-killing failure at that. And the next time they follow that up with “it’s the way of nature and the strongest economic paradigm ever developed” you have my permission to hit them with a pie.

  31. #31 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    Marion:
    What happened, no thirst for blood today? No demand that trolls ie. people who disagree with your warped ideas must be banned? I’m waiting for the time of graduating to your inevitable demand for public beheadings!!!

    Let’s see what Marion has to tell us she we?

    When the trolls bring up Austrian arguments about the distortion of “so much” government, I simply say, that’s not my rule.

    Trolls? Oh you mean people who disagree with you? Listen Popsicle, one doesn’t have to be an adherent of Mises to argue that free markets offer better outcomes in the provision of goods and services than does the opposite. You’re too ideologically blind to see that however so that argument is lost on you. If you can just prove to us that demand curves don’t shift downward in a particular good or service and then we’ll see. Until such time your argument is about as worthless as a dog shit on a dress shoe.

    I won’t be part of revisionism and denial about privatization failures, deregulation failures, or any other market failures simply for the voodoo reason that if there’s even one regulation or one commons or one co-op anywhere on Earth, the butterfly-wing fragile hothouse flower that is free market economics simply can’t be held responsible, since that just RUINS it

    What a long disjointed, tangled mess of a sentence. Listen genius, the soviets learnt long ago that unless you have a price signal the market won’t work effectively. Now you can spew however much venom you like towards “trolls” (ie people who disagree with you) but it won’t change the fact.

    The biggest problem with the provision of water is that a great of the industry it is government run. That’s why water is misallocated to a large extent causing the distortions I’m referring to.

    If that’s the case, then that’s yet another failure of the system, and a deal-killing failure at that

    Bullshit. You simply don’t understand what the hell you’re talking about.

    And the next time they follow that up with “it’s the way of nature and the strongest economic paradigm ever developed” you have my permission to hit them with a pie.

    Another day and another demand for violence from this very angry little woman.

    Marion. Get counseling, as blog rage is a bitch.

    I would also suggest you pick up a few textbooks on economics for beginners before you go lecturing anyone as your ignorance is obvious.

    Now behead me!

  32. #32 sod
    October 1, 2007

    I keep repeating to you guys that a major cause of our problems are the result government induced distortions. Remove those and we’re on our way to a more efficient cleaner enviroment with more nations increasing their wealth status.

    mind to name a SINGLE nation with LESS government “distortions” and CLEANER environment?

  33. #33 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    “mind to name a SINGLE nation with LESS government “distortions” and CLEANER environment?”

    You mean like doing more with less.

    Here Sod.

    US GDP trebled between 1970 and 2003. However if you picked up the US economy and weighed it, it weigh 25% less in 2003 than 1970.

    Hong kong uses far less input to produce a unit of GDP than Singapore two enitites that took off at about the same time and have similar racial characteristics. See RBNZ study fromt eh 90′s.

    The obvious corollary is that you believe the opposite.

  34. #34 MikeB
    October 1, 2007

    JC – Since the Fed and the Bank of England are currently having to bail out a large number of financial institutions who invested in in loans which were basically crap, its difficult to see the logic in the statement ‘free markets offer better outcomes’. Perhaps you should pick up an economics textbook which actually makes makes reference to the real world before you start lecturing – perhaps Galbraith’s ‘Great Crash’ would be a good start?

    And while ’3/5′s of the world is water’, the vast majority of it is salt water or otherwise undrinkable. Drinking water is scare, and the free market can’t change that, no matter how much you might believe in it.

    Oh, and if you want to make serious points, don’t call Marion ‘Popsicle’ – trolling is annoying, but now your getting unpleasently personal.

  35. #35 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    JC – Since the Fed and the Bank of England are currently having to bail out a large number of financial institutions who invested in in loans which were basically crap, its difficult to see the logic in the statement ‘free markets offer better outcomes

    Don’t be idiotic, mikeb, the world’s monetary system is a socialist setup 100%. Central banks choose the short-term interest rate, level of the money supply from one year to the next, they attempt to influence the bond markets through open market activities and finally they issue the currency as legal tender. Monetary policy in the west reeks of interventionism.

    The central banks bailed out institutions as a result of the problems they (CBs) created through their own actions by allowing money supply to increase at too high a rate and maintaining low interest rates and very high liquidity conditions. They are now in the process of adding another dimension to this sorry state through moral hazard and a put on the stock market.

    So don’t friggen dare attribute these shenanigans to the free market. That argument is a fraud and those who propose it are fraudulent or ignorant.

    Perhaps you should pick up an economics textbook which actually makes makes reference to the real world before you start lecturing – perhaps Galbraith’s ‘Great Crash’ would be a good start?

    I have read it and thanks for asking. It’s truly pathetic. JKG was a nice man, a good writer but he was a terrible economist: something even his NYT obit admitted. There are far better books on the subject.

    “And while ’3/5′s of the world is water’, the vast majority of it is salt water or otherwise undrinkable

    Really? Who would have guessed?

    Drinking water is scare, and the free market can’t change that, no matter how much you might believe in it.

    I never said it could change it, however market pricing would ensure better allocation and it may also introduce large scale desal if required. We don’t know for the most part, because water is essentially based on the soviet model of command and control that invariably leads to misallocation, wastage and/or shortages. That’s always the case when you allow for the government to provide goods and services.

    Oh, and if you want to make serious points, don’t call Marion ‘Popsicle’ – trolling is annoying, but now your getting unpleasently personal

    She makes contemptible comments like you do by referring people who disagree with her in vile ways. She deserves all the respect one would afford a rat near a kitchen Like you do too Mikeb for making the same references.

  36. #36 Eli Rabett
    October 1, 2007

    Since HK has moved most of the manufacturing across the line to Shenzhen as the US moved manufacturing off shore, while Singapore retains much of its manufacturing base, one fails to see jc’s point (oh yes, that one, but the hat covers it well).

  37. #37 Eli Rabett
    October 1, 2007

    jc, you ignorant slut, nuclear power is not free either. You can stick a nuclear power plant near the sea (the Soviets did it) but the capital, fuel cycle and operating costs still make it expensive water even if you use the rejected heat to run the desalinisation.

    Geez, no cost energy, free water, it sure is great out there in majic mountain country. Yah gotta stop smoking those free market dope ciggies jc.

    And yeah Marion is a guy, like John Wayne who originally was a Marion. Made that mistake myself to my shame.

  38. #38 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    Eli

    For Christs sake, stop being so pig ignorant. Of course nuke power has a cost, did I ever say it was free? Does everything go over your head. The marginal cost of the additional water prodced by desal may be worthwhile IF IF IF we really knew the real market price of water through the price signal. We don’t know that in most cases becasue water is not priced as market good.

    We may not even require additional water through desal if the allocation was made through the market process instead of allowing huge rent seeking to sneak in. In other words California could be swimming in water if it were priced by the market and my hunch that water intensive industry such as fruit and veg farming moved to where water was plentiful such as Central Am. Is that clear now?

  39. #39 Mike
    October 1, 2007

    “impeccably Teutonic names of “Fritz” and “Daniel.”

    Daniel isn’t exactly Teutonic. I seem to recall a famous Daniel who was rather Jewish and middle eastern. Something about lions.

    Doubtless the sort of thing that fact checkers would have ruined.

  40. #40 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    Eli……..

    AND……..

    Listen up and stop making inaccurate assertions such this:

    Since HK has moved most of the manufacturing across the line to Shenzhen as the US moved manufacturing off shore, while Singapore retains much of its manufacturing base, one fails to see jc’s point (oh yes, that one, but the hat covers it well).

    When what I said was this:

    Hong kong uses far less input to produce a unit of GDP than Singapore two enitites that took off at about the same time and have similar racial characteristics. See RBNZ study fromt eh 90′s.

    I’m not talking about manufacturing here, Professor. I’m talking about units of capital input to demonstrate efficiency in being able to achieve more with less. HK was far more laissez faire than state directed Spore.

    The US has moved a great of manufacturing offshore, however there is a great deal more manufacturing done in the US in 2003 than there was in 1970.

    You’re ignoring that startling statistic of the US GDP being 3 times bigger 2003/1970 and 25% lighter.

  41. #41 mndean
    October 1, 2007

    Oh, look. Jc is copying my anger, even down to the vermin quip! How cute, a wingnut troller slavishly mimicking. They never can be original till they grow up, which in this case will likely be never.

  42. #42 JM
    October 1, 2007

    JC is confusing Pareto efficiency with efficiency in energy/resouce use.

    UNIVERSITY-TRAINED LIARS (Economists)

    DELIBERATE LIE #4. The market is “efficient”.
    This is central to economic theory, but it’s also a deliberate lie (actually an “idiosyncratic redefinition” of terms). Economists know that people who do not have economic training are going to assume that “efficient” is used in the same way that engineers use the word: acting or producing effectively with a minimum of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort.

    But for economists, “efficient” means either “efficient distribution” of profits or “efficient production” of products – not the “efficient use of materials.” Since the market economizes “money” (that which is limitless supply), the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The reason economists use idiosyncratic redefinitions instead of coining new terms (like every other discipline) is to make them better liars!

    Idiosyncratic redefinition allows economists to stand in front of your local Rotary Club and appear to HONESTLY use words that mean one thing to them, while Club members think they mean something completely different. This is how economists evade our innate ability to spot liars.

    Far from being “efficient”, the so-called “market system” is probably the MOST INEFFICIENT social organization possible! The overhead (commuting to work, banks, insurance companies, advertising agencies, etc.) associated with our present way of organizing consumes the largest fraction BY FAR of our natural resources.

    Here is a very rough idea: In 2004, Americans consumed about 342,700,000 Btu, per capita, per year. [8] This converts to about 86,358,951 calories per year [9] or 86,358,951 / 365 = 236,599 calories per day. But humans only require something like 3,000 calories per day to survive, so it seems we (very roughly) waste something like 236,599 – 3,000 = 233,599 calories per day, per capita.

    Studies show that food grains produced with modern, high-yield methods (including packaging and delivery) now contain between four and ten calories of fossil fuel for every calorie of solar energy. So we will allow ten calories of energy to grow and process each calorie of food delivered, so 3,000 * 10=30,000 calories per day is required to keep someone alive. Thus, 233,599 – 30,000 = 203,599 calories are still being wasted each and every day, by every American.

    Let’s allow 20,000 calories per day, per capita to collect and deliver food and water to each and every household in the country, so 203,599 – 20,000 = 183,599 calories wasted per day, per capita in the US.

    Population in America is 302,664,192 (August 2007 est.), [10] so 183,599 * 302,664,192 * 365 = 20,282,627,690,257,900 calories or 2,028,262,769 tonnes of oil equivalent is wasted each year in the US feeding people! (In 2006, oil production in the Middle East was only 1,221,900,000 tonnes! [11]) The market system is obviously the most inefficient organization in human history!!

    On a spherical planet, governed by the laws of thermodynamics, “the market system” WILL end – sooner-or-later, one-way-or-another.

    http://www.warsocialism.com/economic.htm

  43. #43 Evinfuilt
    October 1, 2007

    This is great, there’s someone here who didn’t know water is a limited resource. You learn something new every day.

    JC, go to Florida. Ask them whats happened as their aquifers dry up (sink holes, massive water shortages.) Realize they got tons of rain… See how none of your logic adds up.

    Water is a limited commodity.

  44. #44 Eli Rabett
    October 1, 2007

    Well, fresh water for sure is limited.

  45. #45 sod
    October 1, 2007

    You mean like doing more with less.

    Here Sod.

    US GDP trebled between 1970 and 2003. However if you picked up the US economy and weighed it, it weigh 25% less in 2003 than 1970.

    Hong kong uses far less input to produce a unit of GDP than Singapore two enitites that took off at about the same time and have similar racial characteristics. See RBNZ study fromt eh 90′s.

    The obvious corollary is that you believe the opposite.

    funny, but the term ENVIRONMENT does NOT show up in your reply. less cost of a unit of whatever does NOT imply a better environment.

    singapore is doing very well, btw. very high quality of life index, very good education.

    http://www.economist.com/media/pdf/QUALITY_OF_LIFE.pdf

    (and yes, for a moment let s us ignore all the other differences between Hong Kong and Singapore..)

    so again:

    “mind to name a SINGLE nation with LESS government “distortions” and CLEANER environment?”

  46. #46 JM
    October 1, 2007

    JC brings up nuclear power as the free marketers tend to do when confronted with the issue of powering their cornucopian utopias. The most important problem with nuclear power is a lack of fuel in the form of the necessarily concentrated uranium ores. I’m sure he’ll trot out dilute uranium “sources” like seawater, phosphates, granite, and coal. Low density sources are a non-starter from a net energy standpoint with our current once-through fuel cycles and highly speculative with fast breeder technology that nobody seems to be able to commercialize.

    http://ihp-lx2.ethz.ch/energy21/nuclearoption.pdf

  47. #47 sod
    October 1, 2007

    looking at nuclear technology, Jc s cailm becomes incredibely bizarre:

    if thee was ZERO state regulation on nuclear technology, we would have cheaper and safer nuclear technology and the industry would treat the wastes in a way, that cause LESS environmental problems/dangers.

    must be great to live in wonderland!

  48. #48 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    Where did I say that , Sod?

  49. #49 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    Eli,

    Nice try, I never said water wasn’t a limited resource.

    Do you often make things up, professor?

  50. #50 Jc
    October 1, 2007

    JM

    I’m not confusing anything. You are.

    I don’t suggest markets are pefectly efficient, you dope. I am asserting that market are superior in the allocation process than a public servant or in your case socialism.

    Nice try in suggesting socialism is superior. That’s possibly the dumbest comment I’ve read in while. It’s so dumb that even the people at this site would be embarrassed to support it openly.

    We have been through that arguemnt for 200 years of history of economic ideas. Yours was proved wrong ages ago. It’s not even worth discussing.

  51. #51 Brain Hertz
    October 2, 2007

    Jc wrote:

    How do you figure there is an undersupply, Eli, you big time science teacher you. Most water systems are supplied by governments around the world so we really don’t know what the real price for water actually is most often. With a Soviet command and control system we invariably see shortages develop.

    Yes, that’s absolutely right, Jc. We saw what wonderful efficiencies could be introduced into water supply when the UK privatized all of the water companies some years ago. The result was much improved efficiency for the investors, who made out like bandits.

    In particular, it turns out to be much more efficient to save money by not investing in infrastructure (specifically fixing mammoth leaks in the water distribution system), rather than inefficiently ensuring that there is enough capacity for hot years, which you don’t need most of the time. I mean, the lost profits that occurred when the water actually ran out every now and again turned out to be not worth chasing with additional investment. Simple math, really.

    Hooray for the invisible hand of the market!

  52. #52 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    Brian Hertz

    The British example is how not to privatize. It is a private monopoly with government supervision.

    Instead the supply and catchment should be seperated allowing anyone to supply the market.

  53. #53 Brain Hertz
    October 2, 2007

    Jc,

    I understand your point, but it doesn’t address the problem that occurred in the case of the UK situation in 1995-96.

    The problem wasn’t the supply of water at the source, it was the distribution (the pipes leaked and it wasn’t economic to fix them). How would you propose to create competition that can be exploited by individual consumers as to their choice of supply pipes?

    In any case, even if you could do that, it wouldn’t have solved the actual problem: specifically that it was more economic to have water run out in some places under extreme conditions than to invest in the (over)capacity required to prevent it.

    Incidentally, the problem was eventually fixed by government regulation. The market was clearly illustrated not to be capable of fixing the problem.

  54. #54 Brain Hertz
    October 2, 2007

    Clarification: what I referred to as “supply of water at the source” is, I think, what you termed “catchment”, and what I termed “distribution” is what you termed “supply”.

    Not making a point, just aligning the terms.

  55. #55 Brain Hertz
    October 2, 2007

    by the way, the reference in the OP to Sheryl Crow reminded me of the headline on one of the major US media websites (I think CNN) reporting on the controversy surrounding the joke. It briefly read (I’m not making this up):

    “Furor Over Sheryl Crow Toilet Paper Crack”.

    It got changed a little while later. I guess one of the “fact checkers” must have read it and decided that it sort of came out wrong…

  56. #56 Marion Delgado
    October 2, 2007

    It’s as if they don’t understand, not just balance in chemical reactions, but even mixtures.

    By the way, on my list of 10 books I wish we could force the fanatics to read, I would put Jeremy Rifkin’s Entropy at the very top. a good refresher on significance for the rest of us, it also points out the PRECISE things they don’t know about.

    A lot of other work (Jared Diamond’s comes to mind) is really just an expansion on it. and the “into the greenhouse world” expanded edition was quite ahead of the curve.

  57. #57 Marion Delgado
    October 2, 2007

    By the way, every one of their absurd “beliefs” seems to have an ulterior origin – anti-evolutionism? not just pleasing the traditionalists – it’s also useful for denying resistance to disease caused by agriculture and animal husbandry and unnecessary medical use of antibiotics and so on.

    And this water thing? Well, this way you can deny that what Israel does in the Occupied Territories and the US does in Iraq – denying the locals water, especially fresh water – is not a major atrocity and an unforgivable crime. It’s making the desert bloom and spreading democracy. It’s helping the market find the correct price (and correct buyers) of water.

  58. #58 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    Marion;

    in your previous life, did you have an ugly moustache, thin lips and referred to yourself as the general secretary of the party? Have you eve tried to channel this previous life of yours, dude?

  59. #59 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    Maron says:

    “By the way, on my list of 10 books I wish we could FORCE the fanatics to read, I would put Jeremy Rifkin’s Entropy at the very top. a good refresher on significance for the rest of us, it also points out the PRECISE things they don’t know about.”

    I capitalized what I thought was the most pertinet word in your rant there, Marion.

    As an aside, do you own a knew length black leather jacket, refer to most people as comrade and have this strong desire to put to death anyone who disagrees with your opinions?

  60. #60 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    Brian H

    Good question

    Allow many suppliers to enter the market. In fact allow anyone who wants to supply safe drinking water to enter the market.

    If the firm didn’t feel there was need to fix the pipes it’s their issue to figure.

    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.

  61. #61 dhogaza
    October 2, 2007

    in your previous life, did you have an ugly moustache, thin lips and referred to yourself as the general secretary of the party? Have you eve tried to channel this previous life of yours, dude?

    Godwin’s law …

  62. #62 sod
    October 2, 2007

    Where did I say that , Sod?

    you are slippery like a fish and prefer not to say anything of substance.

    but here is what you said:

    I keep repeating to you guys that a major cause of our problems are the result government induced distortions. Remove those and we’re on our way to a more efficient cleaner enviroment with more nations increasing their wealth status.

    i simply paraphrased that over to nuclear technology.

    I keep repeating to you guys that a major cause of our problems (with nuclear technology) are the result government induced distortions. Remove those and we’re on our way to a more efficient cleaner enviroment (concerning nuclear waste, fuel and technology) with more nations increasing their wealth status.

    so less state regulation, better safety, cleaner and more efficient nuclear technology?

    funny but even you seem to think that it doesn t make any sense.

  63. #63 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    “i simply paraphrased that over to nuclear technology.”

    Is that like you saying…..

    “I had an affair, dear. This time it was with my mother.”

    You had no reason to paraphrase, you sod. You’re just being mendacious.

    Hoggise:

    godwin’s law is a lefoid construct meant to close debate when the jackboot becomes too obvious. It’s old and very well past it’s used by date.

  64. #64 Tim Lambert
    October 2, 2007

    JC, cut it out.

  65. #65 sod
    October 2, 2007

    You had no reason to paraphrase, you sod. You’re just being mendacious.

    you avoided to make a point, again.
    that is a good tactic, when your points are generally WEAK, and when you tend to lose every discussion.

    so why not make a point, once in a while?

    would less state regulations improve the efficientcy and environmental influence of nuclear power or wouldn t it?

    how abaout water?

    your claim is:

    I keep repeating to you guys that a major cause of our problems (with drinking water) are the result government induced distortions. Remove those and we’re on our way to a more efficient cleaner (enviroment) drinking water with more nations increasing their wealth status.

    sounds reasonable. without government regulations into agricultural use of chemicals and industry waste water, we would have HIGHER qulaity drinking water.

    of course!

  66. #66 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    Yea , You’re right. Sorry Tim. No disrespect was meant to you.

  67. #67 Majorajam
    October 2, 2007

    jc, are you suggesting privatizing water distribution networks is a good idea? if so, you should know that not even the most deranged of neoclassical economists would advocate such a thing. this is a very strong statement by the way. reason being, water distribution is about the purest example of what’s known in the literature as a natural monopoly as there is. so, do us all a favor and go study up on the basics and then see if you can’t formulate a coherent comment.

    also btw, sod’s point is that the market has a tendency to come up short in dealing with public goods especially as they relate to negative externalities. again, a little reading goes a long way. have at it sport.

  68. #68 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    major.

    Don’t be silly.

    Bundling the water business as catchment and distribution together has got the UK in the mess it is now primarily because it is a natural monopoly situation for both catchment and distribution.

    Unbundling does two things.

    It focuses the distribution business in terms of getting the water from the seller to the buyer with less friction. Whose water? It doesn’t matter, as far as the distributor is concerned.

    Catchment of course becomes an entirely different business.

    The need for regulation is simple when the industry is unbundled. The distributor is not compromised in this deal, as the firm doesn’t care whose water passes through the pipes.

    Not unbundling has caused all sorts of problems in other industries after privatizations.. You see this in the Telco area where after several years of allowing one dominant telco to own the copper wire to the home competition is problematic without forceful regulation. Right now several countries like Sweden? and New Zealand are in fact forcing unbundling. In other words the distribution business- the copper wires- are being separated out from the rest of the telco for the obvious reason that the unbundled entity is not behaving as competitively as it could. The advantage is that the new entity ( the copper wire owning entity) will not discriminate and allow all players through the wires indiscriminately.

    The behavioral characteristics of the water business would be not much different in fact.

    The Coarse theorem would support the privatization of the water business as an unbundled series of firms.

  69. #69 Brain Hertz
    October 2, 2007

    Allow many suppliers to enter the market. In fact allow anyone who wants to supply safe drinking water to enter the market.

    If the firm didn’t feel there was need to fix the pipes it’s their issue to figure.

    Are you actually suggesting that streets should have multiple sets of water mains in them? Do you honestly think that alternate providers would start digging roads up to install competing water mains if they were allowed to?

    In any case, I think you’re missing the point. Absent regulation, the water runs out sometimes because that is the most economic solution for the providers. It doesn’t matter how much a particular individual wants to pay a supplier if there is no water being provided to that region. Is that really what you want?

    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?

    You’re just assuming, of course, that it is possible to create an actual market for water. For numerous practical reasons, as already described, there isn’t a way of doing that.

  70. #70 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    “also btw, sod’s point is that the market has a tendency to come up short in dealing with public goods especially as they relate to negative externalities. again, a little reading goes a long way. have at it sport.”

    Sod’s wrong and he needs a decent dose of remedial economics to get him back on track.

    He’s wrong under Pareto efficiency theory and he’s wrong under Coase.

  71. #71 sod
    October 2, 2007

    Bundling the water business as catchment and distribution together has got the UK in the mess it is now primarily because it is a natural monopoly situation for both catchment and distribution.

    you DO notice the significant difference between water distribution and telecommunication?

    anyone who is talking about the UK and the “benefits” of privatization should be forced to travel by rail. only.

  72. #72 sod
    October 2, 2007

    Sod’s wrong and he needs a decent dose of remedial economics to get him back on track.

    i am deeply impressed. Jc believes that i am wrong.

    as always, Jc does NOT support this claim with any argument.

    with no regulations by the state, nuclear power would be NEITHERsafer, more effeicient or better for the environment.

    with no regulations by the state, water supply would be NEITHER better, more effeicient or or providing cleaner water in the long term. FACT.

  73. #73 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    Brian says:

    “Are you actually suggesting that streets should have multiple sets of water mains in them? Do you honestly think that alternate providers would start digging roads up to install competing water mains if they were allowed to?

    No we can’t do that in existing cities as it is too late. However we can make the catchment business more of a cosntestable market and regulate the pipes business. This does increases competition.

    In any case, I think you’re missing the point. Absent regulation, the water runs out sometimes because that is the most economic solution for the providers. It doesn’t matter how much a particular individual wants to pay a supplier if there is no water being provided to that region. Is that really what you want?

    If it runs out it runs out and we’re all dead, we have to move or we desal. However it does rain still don’t forget.

    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.

    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?

    You’re food supply is supplied by the private market. do you think the government could supply it cheaper. If you do then the Sovs could have learned a thing or two from you.

    You’re just assuming, of course, that it is possible to create an actual market for water.

    I am not assuming it. I know you can.

    For numerous practical reasons, as already described, there isn’t a way of doing that.

    I don’t agree. Sorry.

    You are beginning to see a lot of movement from private firms in this area around the world as the capital costs of supplying water are beyond the scope of government budgets and the returns are quite good…. about 20% per year compounded for the last 5 years.

  74. #74 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    “with no regulations by the state, water supply would be NEITHER better, more effeicient or or providing cleaner water in the long term. FACT.”

    really Sod. When did you last buy your government supplied food such as meat and veggies. Go see why the socialists gave up this sorry caper.

    I never mentioned nuke in this context but seeing you asked……..

    Regulation of nuke power could be achieved through the private market with the government ensuring proerty rights are strenghtened and insurance premiums are paid annually. Nuke power can also be located 100 miles away from city population with the offer of ( I think) DC power.

    Sod, why do you wanna rely on public servant for your safety?

    Don’t be scared now.

  75. #75 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    “anyone who is talking about the UK and the “benefits” of privatization should be forced to travel by rail. only.”

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

    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.

    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.

  76. #76 dj
    October 2, 2007

    Response to Zeno: How about double plus un-sludge?

  77. #77 Brain Hertz
    October 2, 2007

    Jc,
    you might want to revisit your post at 73. Half way through you seem to start arguing with yourself (specifically your post at 60)….

    And by the way, “unbundling the rails” is a pretty good description of how rail privatization in the UK actually proceeded. It wasn’t pretty.

  78. #78 Majorajam
    October 2, 2007

    jc, you’re right and rockefeller was wrong. there is no advantage to monopolistic power over an extremely capital intensive network. water distribution would be practically free if we removed regulations on pricing so that free enterprise practicing firms would set up rival networks, i.e. stick miles of pipe in the ground having zero salvage value; bond holders aren’t typically concerned with such things. this can be seen by how much competition can be found on landline telecom and internet access in the us post deregulation. nuclear power plants would be much more cheap and safe if private companies who bear the costs of safety and waste handling were not regulated.

    don’t let the particulars of huge bodies of academic research let alone common sense dissuade you in your quixotic quest jc. you’re doing magnificently.

  79. #79 Joe Schembrie
    October 2, 2007

    A while ago, I read a Mark Steyn column about how internees at Guantanamo Bay were being pampered with catered meals and comfy pillows. This left me highly confused, because it conflicted with all the other reports of desperate conditions, but still I supposed that despite his humorous bent, Steyn was a legitimate journalist and had at least some tether to reality.

    To quote Rush Limbaugh, “To be funny, humor must contain an element of truth.” Now I realize that Steyn cracks jokes not to stretch the truth but to destroy it. He lied about Guantanamo. He lied about torture, and that’s just not funny. For me, Steyn once stimulated laughter but now he only provokes absolute contempt.

    You can consume your own waste products, Mark, because I won’t be reading them any more.

  80. #80 dipaolom
    October 2, 2007

    I have absolutely LOVED reading all of these comments. I read every one of ‘em. As a disinterested third party, I observe that JC seems to know what he’s talking about and is quite convincing. But maybe I just wanted to agree with him because he called someone “Popsicle.” That made me laugh out loud.

  81. #81 Jc
    October 2, 2007

    Majorjam:
    “jc, you’re right and rockefeller was wrong. there is no advantage to monopolistic power over an extremely capital intensive network.”

    Rockefeller was one of the most innovative people of the last 200 years. He totally revolutionized the refining and distribtuion business in the US and then the world. He made oodles of money because he was able to offer refined gas at a fraction of the price. The guy was a friggen hero to the consumer.

    Don’t make the mistake of confusing state sanctioned monopolpy with a concentrated number of players in contestable markets. If a market is contestable and has no barriers to entry set up by the government there is no problem.

    People/ consumers made Rockefeller rich becasue he was able to offer them cheap fuel. Buy a picuture of him and prey to him each night as he made all our lives better.

  82. #82 drummasterCB@gmail.com
    October 2, 2007

    A quick NYT Search query lists Steyn’s last column for that paper as having run in 1996. If that’s correct, Steyn starts out with, if not a lie, then a weird distortion. Eleven years is not “a few years.”

    But read on for the really juicy stuff. It’s Steyn’s pompous letter to the editor, and a lacerating reply by the reviewer. Gottlieb nails the problems with Steyn, which obviously continue today!

    Published: June 20, 1999
    To the Editor:

    I’m grateful to Robert Gottlieb for his advice, in his review of ”Broadway Babies Say Goodnight,” that I ”should have stopped more frequently to look things up” — stopping frequently to look things up being the defining characteristic of editing at both your esteemed organ and Gottlieb’s old home, The New Yorker.

    That being the case, I was interested to learn from Gottlieb’s review (and your headline) that I am ”British” and ”a transplanted Englishman,” and to note the conclusions he drew therefrom.

    As it happens, I’m a Canadian (untransplanted) — and it is, alas, the case that writing for a London newspaper can’t make you English any more than sleeping in the cowshed makes you a Holstein. In this instance, there was really no need for Gottlieb to stop and look anything up, since on page 319 of the book there is an account of my arrival at Heathrow Airport immigration so riveting and vivid that several London critics opened their reviews with it.

    Mark Steyn
    Montreal

    Robert Gottlieb replies:

    It would be unkind to readers of The Times to deprive them of the passage from ”Broadway Babies Say Goodnight” that the author himself characterizes as ”so riveting and vivid.” Here it is: ”I’d also like to thank Tom Sutcliffe of The Independent, who was the first person in the United Kingdom to ask me to write about musicals, and who gave me a fancy title, too: when the immigration officer at Heathrow asked me the purpose of my visit, I replied that I was here to take up a position as Musical Theater Correspondent of the London Independent. ‘That’s a job?’ he said. Thanks to Tom, it was.”

    No mention of Canada, but more to the point, Mark Steyn doesn’t say that this riveting account appears not in the actual text of his book but in

    the acknowledgments section (which I feel no remorse at having skipped). This is either carelessness or disingenuousness on his part, and not unrelated to the frequent inaccuracies and failures of tone that compromise his book’s real virtues of perception and styl

  83. #83 SG
    October 2, 2007

    Rhetorical tricks that JC holds in common with dodgy liberals that he hates:

    1) he loves ambulance chasing lawyers: in JC’s version of an unregulated market, whenever anything goes wrong we just sue – using the ambulance chasing lawyers much loved of the left

    2) Excessive desire to socialise costs: JC thinks that we should all pay for his unregulated market through increased insurance premiums. Why should everyone in Sydney pay increased home insurance because JC wants to slap a nuclear power plant on the coast?

    3) The Marxist defense: JC claims that even though every example of a type of revolution privatisation has gone wrong, this is because they didn’t follow proper marxist libertarian principles – the next one will work though.

    4) Love of centralised power: instead of a mixed market of diverse solutions to the problem, JC immediately jumps on the bandwagon in favour of the biggest, most centralised schemes he can think of (nuclear power, desalination, dams). It’s as if he wants all of our local and community systems to be forced under the control of big business

    5) Faith in the essential goodness of humankind: JC wants a completely unfettered free market in which businesses will be forcibly unbundled against their own best interests. How long will they stay unbundled in an unfettered market? As long as the essential goodness of their CEOs holds out…

    6) Faith in the Soviet system: the only unregulated nuclear industry in the world was the Soviet system, which had no safety standards and no unions. It’s a little known fact but Chernobyl is not the only or necessarily even the largest environmental catastrophe caused by that industry.

    7) Love of trendy products against his own best interests: the only currently totally free market in water provision in the world is bottled water, which has been shown repeatedly in quality tests to be of lower quality than govt run town water in first world countries, even though it is provided at much higher prices. It even fails taste tests against tap water in most cases, and isn’t always drawn in an environmentally friendly manner. But hey! It’s trendy.

    8) False idolisation of unreconstructed marxists: JC claims Australia’s most libertarian prime minister was Bob Hawke, who was responsible for the accord, i.e. centralised wage fixing in exchange for increased govt spending on social security.

    Have I missed anything? JC certainly sounds more like an old-fashioned US do-gooding “liberal” than anyone else on this blog…

  84. #84 Lee A. Arnold
    October 3, 2007

    A person claiming knowledge of economics brings up the Coase theorem. But unfortunately for free-market ideologists, the Coase theorem doesn’t support the privatization of anything. It does not argue that privatizing reduces costs. In fact, quite the reverse: the Coase theorem implies that if there are any transactions costs, any at all, a non-market institution might do the trick better — and you would have to study and find out, in each case. Indeed, privatizing water will increase some transaction costs, not decrease them. Far more friction, not less.

    The resource reallocation would be more “efficient” by the restricted definition, but whether or not that would be desirable, since income distribution then also becomes a determining factor, is an entirely separate theoretical and ethical question… On the pure ethics of it, most people worldwide reject water privatization, pretty much on the spot, and that pretty much decides the issue.

    Also — Nuclear power exists in the United States by an enormous government fiat. It is called the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act, look it up in Wikipedia, and it protects the industry against insurance liability claims over $10 billion. Try to finance a nuclear industry without government distortion!

    What is most remarkable to me about Mark Steyn is not his misinformation and foolishness — there is plenty enough of that to go around — but the fact that he is upheld by smart U.S. conservatives as being one of the best columnists. This is just baffling. It is truly an ideological movement on its last legs.

  85. #85 Brain Hertz
    October 3, 2007

    If it’s ok with you, Jc, I’ll respond to your post but skip over presenting a rebuttal to the arguments you presented against your own arguments, which I was quoting:

    Brian says:

    “Are you actually suggesting that streets should have multiple sets of water mains in them? Do you honestly think that alternate providers would start digging roads up to install competing water mains if they were allowed to?

    No we can’t do that in existing cities as it is too late. However we can make the catchment business more of a cosntestable market and regulate the pipes business. This does increases competition.

    I see. So when you said that the UK “went about privatization the wrong way”, what you meant is that they stupidly failed to move the whole country somewhere else?

    Here’s the problem: land is actually a very limited resource in some places (like, say, the UK). You can’t fix the leaky distribution system by adding more catchment when there’s no more room to put them. The problem is the distribution system leaks, and you can’t make up for that by adding more water supply. There just isn’t any more to be had.

    In any case, I think you’re missing the point. Absent regulation, the water runs out sometimes because that is the most economic solution for the providers. It doesn’t matter how much a particular individual wants to pay a supplier if there is no water being provided to that region. Is that really what you want?

    If it runs out it runs out and we’re all dead, we have to move or we desal. However it does rain still don’t forget.

    Oh, well that’s alright then. Good job you’re here to provide commonsense solutions. Where are you going to capture the rain when there’s no more room for reservoirs or energy for desalination plants?

    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.

    I’ll just step aside while you argue with yourself here…

    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.

    And again…

    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?

    You’re food supply is supplied by the private market. do you think the government could supply it cheaper. If you do then the Sovs could have learned a thing or two from you.

    Where did you see me suggesting that private markets don’t operate for food supply? There are different constraints and solutions for one don’t necessarily apply to the other.

    Are you capable of understanding that somebody who doesn’t think that a free market is the best solution in the specific case of water supply isn’t necessarily a communist?

    You see, I like markets. I think they’re great, very powerful tools which in the vast majority case provide great benefits. However, the really cool thing about recognizing the existence of tools besides hammers is that you don’t necessarily have to treat every problem like it’s a nail.

    You’re just assuming, of course, that it is possible to create an actual market for water.

    I am not assuming it. I know you can.

    Show me one that functions. I’ve shown you one that doesn’t, and you haven’t explained how it can be fixed within the constraints that actually exist.

    For numerous practical reasons, as already described, there isn’t a way of doing that.

    I don’t agree. Sorry.

    Then go ahead and show me how within the actual constraints.

    You are beginning to see a lot of movement from private firms in this area around the world as the capital costs of supplying water are beyond the scope of government budgets and the returns are quite good…. about 20% per year compounded for the last 5 years.

    And if there are situations in which that is actually true, I have no problem with it. However, you can’t simply extrapolate from that and say that it must work everywhere, period. It doesn’t.

  86. #86 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Great con job, SG. Let’s get to the juicy bits shall we? But beofre we do let me say you have no idea what you are talking about. It’s like putting a bunch of sentences together and hoping that they flow at random. Here’s why:

    1) he loves ambulance chasing lawyers: in JC’s version of an unregulated market, whenever anything goes wrong we just sue – using the ambulance chasing lawyers much loved of the left

    Don’t be a dope. Enforcement and clarity of property rights doesn’t have to be anything like what you portray. It’s dopey, shallow thinking.

    2) Excessive desire to socialise costs: JC thinks that we should all pay for his unregulated market through increased insurance premiums. Why should everyone in Sydney pay increased home insurance because JC wants to slap a nuclear power plant on the coast?
    Would that happen? Do you have evidence that home insurance costs would rise if a nuke plant was built 100 miles away from a population centre. You’re talking crap.

    3) The Marxist defense: JC claims that even though every example of a type of revolution privatisation has gone wrong, this is because they didn’t follow proper marxist libertarian principles – the next one will work though.

    They did make mistakes doofus which is why some countries are beginning to unbundle their Telcos. Our dailies are talking about that possibility in today’s issue.
    4) Love of centralised power: instead of a mixed market of diverse solutions to the problem, JC immediately jumps on the bandwagon in favour of the biggest, most centralised schemes he can think of (nuclear power, desalination, dams). It’s as if he wants all of our local and community systems to be forced under the control of big business

    In an earlier point you were suggesting I was too decentralized and now you’re inferring I prefer the opposite. Was the movie Memento based on you? You can’t seem to even recall what you wrote a few minutes before.
    5) Faith in the essential goodness of humankind: JC wants a completely unfettered free market in which businesses will be forcibly unbundled against their own best interests. How long will they stay unbundled in an unfettered market? As long as the essential goodness of their CEOs holds out.

    Oh we’re back to unfettered decentralized markets now. At least you’re consistent in you shoddy intellectual inconsistency. I’m am not suggesting we do anything forcibly, Doofus. I outlined the reasons why we have failed in previous privatisations.
    6) Faith in the Soviet system: the only unregulated nuclear industry in the world was the Soviet system, which had no safety standards and no unions. It’s a little known fact but Chernobyl is not the only or necessarily even the largest environmental catastrophe caused by that industry.

    Now I know you have lost it. The soviet system was a failure because the system didn’t allow for freedom and clearer property rights. Nuke has been the safest mode of power generation in the west. Placing the Russian disaster into the mix is fraudulent joke.
    7) Love of trendy products against his own best interests: the only currently totally free market in water provision in the world is bottled water, which has been shown repeatedly in quality tests to be of lower quality than govt run town water in first world countries, even though it is provided at much higher prices. It even fails taste tests against tap water in most cases, and isn’t always drawn in an environmentally friendly manner. But hey! It’s trendy.
    Bottled water is not the only example of a free market in water. It’s a different product in most ways. Moreover there are numerous examples of the private market beginning to supply town water around the world. In fact I am invested in a fund which for the past 5 has been getting a 20% return in this business.
    8) False idolisation of unreconstructed marxists: JC claims Australia’s most libertarian prime minister was Bob Hawke, who was responsible for the accord, i.e. centralised wage fixing in exchange for increased govt spending on social security.

    Yes. The accord was pretty bad. But he also did a lot of good in terms of being a reformist government. You think Fraser was more reformist? Do you?
    Have I missed anything? JC certainly sounds more like an old-fashioned US do-gooding “liberal” than anyone else on this blog. .

    I don’t you have missed anything. Blogs are good because it exposes stupid ideas like yours. But it coming, chipper as I’m counting on giving your opinions a hiding every time you show up.

    Keep emarrassing yourself, SG. It’s fun.

  87. #87 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Brian

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

    The food supply example is very good at destroying myths about the need for “POIBLIC” goods. There is no need for public servants to be supplying anything other than a pink slip when they fire themsleves.

  88. #88 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Lee

    You lifted that crap about Coase out of Wiki. You obviously don’t understand it. I would suggest you stop pretending you do. Now go read a few books on the subject before you go around casting judgement.

  89. #89 Lee A. Arnold
    October 3, 2007

    Never read the wiki on Coase. I read Coase instead. No why don’t you state the theorem for us?

  90. #90 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Gee. Now that would be challenging.

    Might you want to elaborate on this startling claim?. Go on hit us with more.

    But unfortunately for free-market ideologists, the Coase theorem doesn’t support the privatization of anything. It does not argue that privatizing reduces costs. In fact, quite the reverse: the Coase theorem implies that if there are any transactions costs, any at all, a non-market institution might do the trick better — and you would have to study and find out, in each case. Indeed, privatizing water will increase some transaction costs, not decrease them. Far more friction, not less.

  91. #91 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    If you read Coase and reached that conclusion, you’re hysterically wrong. Go back and read it again, lee.

  92. #92 Eli Rabett
    October 3, 2007

    It is useful to read Coase on Coase’s theorem, something JB has not done. It is obviously an argument for pollution taxation.

    In an ideal economic system, goods worth more than they cost to produce get produced, goods worth less than they cost to produce do not; this is part of what economists mean by economic efficiency. In a perfectly competitive private property system, producers pay the value of the inputs they use when they buy them from their owners (wages to workers in exchange for their labor, rent to land owners for the use of their land, etc.) and receive the value of what they produce when they sell it. If a good is worth more than it costs to produce, the producer receives more than he pays and makes a profit; if the good is worth less than it costs to produce he takes a loss. So goods that should be produced are and goods that should not be produced are not.

    This only works if producers must pay all of the costs associated with production. Suppose that is not the case. Suppose, for example, that a steel producer, in addition to using iron ore, coal, etc., also “uses” clean air. In the process of producing a ton of steel he puts ten pounds of sulfur dioxide into the air, imposing (say) $100 worth of bad smells, sore throats, and corrosion on people down wind. Since he does not pay for that cost, he does not include it in his profit and loss calculations. As long as the price he sells his steel for at least covers his costs it is worth making steel. The result is inefficient: Some goods may be produced even though their cost, including the resulting pollution, is greater than their value.

    It is inefficient in another respect as well. The steel producer may be able to reduce the amount of pollution by various control devices–air filters, low sulfur coal, high smokestacks–at a cost. Calculated in terms of the net effect on everyone concerned, it is worth eliminating pollution as long as the cost is less than the pollution damage prevented–in our example, as long as it costs less than $10 to prevent a pound of sulfur dioxide emission. But the steel producer, in figuring out how to maximize his profit, includes in his calculations only the costs he must pay. So long as he does not bear the cost of the pollution, he has no incentive to prevent it. So the fact that air pollution is an external cost results in both an ineffiently high level of steel production (it may be produced even when it is not worth producing) and an inefficiently low level of pollution control.

    There are two obvious solutions. One is direct regulation–the government tells the steel company how much it is allowed to pollute. The other is emission fees–referred to by economists as Pigouvian taxes (named after A. C. Pigou, the economist whose ideas I am describing).

    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.

  93. #93 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    For God’s sake Eli, it is not case FOR pollution taxation. It is a case for recognizing externalities and figuring a way for making compensation work and strengthening property rights. You see that’s the trouble you go to Wiki and you end up with the hard fought opinion of a 15-year communist from Singapore with his or her take on issues.

    Here’s a thought Professor Mergatroid. Get off your lazy butt, walk down to the Economics/business building of the uni or college you’re at and ask for Coase’s books and collection of writings.

    Don’t be scared when you enter the business building ok. You don’t have to wear a disguise in case the soft sciences crowd sees you (the horror). Rest assured the people in there won’t eat you for breakfast thinking your raw meat.

    Go on, Eli, make that the most important thing you today. I dare ya.

  94. #94 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Eli,

    Seriously, I reckon you could be at the dentist’s reading the recent issue of People mag’s latest on Paris Hilton’s exploits and you’d think there was something hidden in the story about AGW.

    Listen dude, Thomas Shelling (I think it was him) won a nobel prize for his work on game theory and externalities. I suggest you read up on his work before you go spouting off about AGW taxes.

  95. #95 Majorajam
    October 3, 2007

    Jc, your accounting of Rockefeller’s fortune and advocacy of the consumer is novel, but also off topic and I can’t let a troll like you off the hook so easily. You did catch the word ‘network’ in the sentence you cited, correct? And you do realize that the refining business is not a network, right?… On second thought, don’t answer that, I’ll be embarrassed for you.

    I was of course referring to his collusion with the rail monopolies, one of many examples that would lead a man with even a smidgeon of gray matter to the conclusion that water distribution will never be a competitive industry. Rail is a network, btw.

    The way you shout your ignorance from a mountain top is astounding Jc, even allowing for the fact that it only manages to defile a pseudonym.

  96. #96 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Major says:
    “You did catch the word ‘network’ in the sentence you cited, correct? And you do realize that the refining business is not a network, right?… On second thought, don’t answer that, I’ll be embarrassed for you.”

    Major, i am actually quite embarrassed for you. I read my missive and one thing I noticed where I erred was the spelling of pray.

    I ignored your network nonsense and decided the best thing to go after was the silliness you spouted about Rockefeller that needed to be corrected.

    You simply have no idea about the difference between monopolies (which can only be state sanctioned) and contestable markets do you? It’s astonishing really.

  97. #97 Lee A. Arnold
    October 3, 2007

    If it’s not a challenge for you, then please state the theorem for us.

  98. #98 Majorajam
    October 3, 2007

    You mean that you were right and Rockefeller was wrong? Indeed, that is silliness. Of course, some people might have judged that as irony, but then they likewise would probably fall into a different constituency than yourself, people with a functioning cortex.

    Speaking of embarrassing, this word you keep using, I do not think it means what you think it means. Is it your position that rail or water distribution are contestable markets? If you don’t know, not to worry, I’m sure there’s some more jargon out there just waiting for you to abuse.

  99. #99 Jc
    October 3, 2007

    Major

    Read what i said carefully.

    I suggested unbundling these two markets could make them more competitive and contestable. You can comprehend that, can’t you?

    “You mean that you were right and Rockefeller was wrong?”

    No, I never said anything about Rockefeller being wrong. I said you wrong and wrong about Rockefeller. Your comprehension skills are apalling.

    Lee.

    Sorry buddy, but I ani’t doing your homework for you. Read up on him yourself.

    Here’s a clue. He doesn’t advocate socialism as you implied. Go from there.

  100. #100 Lee A. Arnold
    October 3, 2007

    I knew you were bluffing before this/