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Comment: Re:Net metering is little more than theft (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49161567) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

One example setup (albeit not a very good one) would be roughly if you took the EPA-as-is, separated its budget and revenue from the entire rest of the government, devised articles of incorporation, made all Americans shareholders, and made its officers subject to the same kind of accountability to shareholders as corporate officers.

Hm... Interesting. Only problem I see with it is that it might actually diffuse the power the American people have over the new corporation as opposed to the old EPA. Shareholders of large corporations tend to have less power over their CEOs than citizens have over the President, for example.

You'd probably also want to the new corporation to have some statutory power just to keep it from being immediately bankrupted by lawsuits from industry.

Also, how would said company gain revenue to give to the people, presumably in the form of dividends? The way I think of it would be what I propose - charging for pollution.

And if you think corporate officers aren't subject to 'lobbying', I have some bridges you might want to buy a share in...

Comment: Re:Net metering is little more than theft (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49151983) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

That is intrinsically impossible. The EPA can no more make rational tradeoffs about pollution for the entire country than the USSR could fix prices rationally: the EPA simply doesn't have the necessary information, conditions are far too variable across the country, and the people inside the EPA simply have no incentive to do the right thing

...Man, you're past jaded.
Necessary information: It has most of it.
Variable conditions: You do what you can.
No incentive to do the right thing: Says you. I'm not saying it'll be perfect, but collecting tax money is done rather routinely.
Job seeking after EPA duty: Meh. Like I said earlier, a fairly simple fee structure is harder to mess up.

You're still committing a fallacy - do nothing unless the solution is 'perfect'. I don't demand perfect.

Fascist economics means strongly regulated markets based on what politics decides is in the interest of society as a whole (a "mixed economy"). That is what you are advocating, isn't it?

Actually no. I'm actually advocating loosening control by changing the way the EPA does business. Currently it works on a basis of dictating the AMOUNT of pollution an industry, down to specific industrial facilities, can produce through a system of permits. If you violate your permit, you may or may not be charged substantial penalties. If it doesn't want a particular industry inside the USA, it simply has to set the permitted levels of pollution low enough, require expensive enough remediation, to render the business uneconomical. Meanwhile it preserves current players through grandfathering, often allowing orders of magnitude more pollution from older facilities.

By default, you don't have a right to pollute other people's private property at all, whether it's their air, their land, or their water;

Correct. Though 'their air' and 'their water' gets rather complicated because it's constantly moving.

you should have to pay for that right, just like you pay for the right to cross their land, mine their land, or do anything else to it.

Which is what I proposed, so why are you complaining?

Right now, the EPA gives you a free license to pollute and kill other people at no cost to you using some blanket standards that are too strict in some areas and too lenient in others.

Which is what I was complaining about... 'Grandfathering' = 'free license'. Blanket standards being too strict in some areas and too lenient in others is probably always going to be an issue, which is why I simply said 'use the best available science'. Then add an administrative fee on top because you're probably underestimating it.

'You're overcharging for sulfor dioxide and undercharging for nitrogen dioxide' isn't, to me, a condemnation of my system, it results in a shrug and me updating the fee schedule.

There are plenty of books on that. Murray Rothbard's "For a New Liberty"

Okay, read the pollution section from the ebook. I'll summarize my thoughts:
1. Just who do you propose to sell the rivers to, where they can still be used for trade, wildlife preservation, and such without massive, massive issues with negotiating with, potentially, thousands of owners?
2. How do you arrange it so that companies are liable for their pollution when it's basically impossible to point your finger at a specific factory having caused you harm, or making it so easy that anybody who gets a cough is suing everybody and clogging the courts up?

What I'm getting at is that my 'solution' is to make the government the overseer - the union, if you will(still not a good comparison, but I can't think of better at the moment). It then charges the industries for their pollution, so we can still have industry, but charges enough that it can then spend that money(through lowered taxes, if nothing else) to remediate the harm caused by remaining pollution, and industries, because they have to pay for what they emit, are 'encouraged' to prevent said emissions.

Just to let you know, you've been arguing with a self-described moderate libertarian. You may be closer to the anarchy scale.

I'll summarize:
1. We need a policy that is 'simple' enough for businesses to be able to work with it.
2. It needs to be as non-intrusive as possible.
3. It needs to render external cost(pollution) internal in as efficient of a method as possible. Lawsuits aren't efficient. Negotiating with potentially thousands or tens of thousands of people isn't efficient.
3a. By rendering the cost internal, companies are encouraged to not pollute.
3b. By avoiding lawsuits as much as possible, we can still have industry.

Comment: Re:Thieves looking to steal metal? lolwut? (Score 2) 131

by Firethorn (#49151869) Attached to: Vandalism In Arizona Shuts Down Internet and Phone Service

I think the problem is that you can't use PVC for hot water supply lines.

That's where you use CPVC. It's stronger than straight PVC as well as resistant to higher temperatures. My old house was plumbed in CPVC.

It's generally a tan color as opposed to white for PVC. The GP probably either didn't know or care about the 'minor' difference - it's still PVC. ;)

Comment: Re:Net metering is little more than theft (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49149899) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

You simply don't get it: I'm not objecting to setting a price, I'm objecting to who sets it. You want corrupt politicians and lobbyists to set the price and simply cannot conceive of any alternative.

No, you haven't suggested an alternative. I already said it's not the politicians and lobbyists who are setting the values, but bureaucrats and analysts. You ignored that.

I have suggested an alternative, you are simply too locked into your dirigisme mindset to even perceive it when someone states it clearly: the market should set the price for pollution by privatizing environmental resources.

Okay, build a coherent plan and/or example of how your system will work. Because it's sounding a bit like you're proposing to sell the air to private concerns. I think I'd rather see your actual view on a solution/plan before I speculate further.

get out of your goddamn ochlocratic and proto-fascist economic mindset in which government forces a single policy on everybody "for the good of society".

Get out of your ivory tower. The government 'forces a single policy on everybody' more or less because it's a blunt instrument and exceptions tend to lead to more corruption and waste than keeping it simple. For all that government is bad, it's the least bad solution for the problem that we've found. 'proto-fascist' means you either are completely misunderstanding me, deliberately or not, or don't realize what fascist means. I had to look up ochlocratic, and that's not something I have to commonly do, and my response to that, given that I read the first paragraph of the wiki on it, is that again, you're off somewhere attacking a strawman.

I'll repeat: We ALREADY have a government agency with power over industry, and people, in the name of protecting the environment. In the name of preventing stuff like rivers that are dead and regularly catch fire, rain that dissolves stone along with other things that cause harm to health like drastically increasing the incidents of lung cancer, not to mention other illnesses, we created the EPA.

I'm not talking about some drastic reform like the creation of the EPA was. I'm talking about reforming the EPA in ways that I believe will actually INCREASE freedom, REDUCE regulation, encourage lowering pollution more(via eliminating grandfathering), while encouraging new construction because the EPA isn't setting ridiculous rules about pollution.

Just because something isn't perfect shouldn't prevent us from doing it in the ultimately vain hope something better will come along. I happen to believe that my scheme would be beneficial.

Or are you so convinced that corrupt politicians are so evil that they would value human lives at something ridiculously low like $100k each? Because by my research, so long as they hit somewhere between $5M and $10M, it wouldn't make much difference.

In a free country, people make individual choices, and free markets aggregate those choices into overall policy. That is how "we" should maximize quality of life while minimizing pollution.

Okay, how do you propose to work this? I decide to heat my home using an open coal fire. The smoke can be seen for miles, everybody is hacking, but it's my decision, right? How do you impose the cost of everybody else's sickness on my decision?

Or are you saying that the public will simply boycott an industry that's polluting?

Comment: Re:Net metering is little more than theft (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49144917) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

Yes it does, as does government price fixing for lots of other things. Do you like paying too much for sugar because of government price fixing? Do you like the fact that you subsidize oil production to keep oil cheap? I certainly don't.

Oil is complicated... On average they pay taxes on it though.

As for setting a price on human life, I'll repeat: IT ALREADY HAPPENS. Realistically speaking, you can't operate without putting a price on it. If you effectively set it to zero by disregarding it as you apparently advocate for, you get rivers on fire and shit like that. If you set it to 'infinite', you can't get things done, and because you can't get things done, you actually cause MORE loss of life.

So what you do is try to find some reasonable value. Is $9M enough for you Nostalgia? Too high, too low? EPA values one at $6.9M. The FAA/DOT is $5.8M, though it's probably gone up a touch since then.

So let's say it's somewhere between $7-9M. To be perfectly honest, whether it's $7M or $9M doesn't really matter all that much.

And that's why I also don't like the price for pollution or human lives to be fixed by corrupt politicians and lobbyists either, which is exactly what you are advocating.

Actually, they already do that, see the EPA's valuation at $7M. So add it to your pile of apparently useless dislikes, seeing as how you haven't managed to suggest an alternative. Also, the levels tend to be set more by corrupt bureaucrats than politicians anyways. It's too technical for the politicos.

The result is that instead of businesses paying actual costs for the pollution they impose, some businesses pay way too little, and others pay way too much, and the environment is far worse off than it otherwise would be.

... You do realize that resource exploitation is fairly separated from pollution, right? I mean, we need to harvest resources if we're to have an economy(which is a good thing), the trick is to maximize the economy while minimizing pollution, with the goal of maximizing quality of life. That generally means pollution controls more than telling a company they can harvest in one spot but not another.

Comment: Re:Solar power and industry (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49140137) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

I wouldn't want to run mission-critical volume business operations on it, especially in an area where clouds come and go, but it might be useful for spot jobs.

Which is why I didn't even propose that it run entirely from that heat at any time. If a cloud passes overhead the induction heating system would just run more. Think of the solar heat as a pre-heater, it saves electricity by replacing it with cheap solar.

Comment: Re:Net metering is little more than theft (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49139979) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

In order to translate "lives lost" into money, you need to start by assigning a value to a human being, a completely arbitrary number.

Happens every day. NHTSA rates the value at saving a human life (VSL) at $9.1M. Insurance adjusters do it. Courtrooms do it. Etc...

And while arbitrary, it's not completely arbitrary. A lot goes into the figuring. Expected lifetime earnings, funeral costs, medical expenses, school costs, all goes into the figures.

Predicting extra illnesses relies on collecting data from medical studies subject to massive publication bias and never designed for that purpose.

Again: Educated guess. We know mercury in the environment is bad. Ergo, we set the fees for emitting it extremely high. $10M/ton might actually be an OOM low. $100M/ton might be closer.

Whatever. The idea is that you have a serious board that 'does their best', and regularly reviews the pollution list, adding new pollutants and adjusting the fees as new science gives you 'settled' values. I say settled because values shouldn't be assigned on the basis of 'cutting edge' science, but science that has been verified for a bit. If nothing else, it allows industry to keep an eye on the studies and have a good idea what they're going to be charged in the future.

As for parking/speeding tickets, first you'd have to define a goal. When your publicly stated goal is prevention, but your actual goal is revenue generation, of course the fee structure is going to look odd.

That is why people are getting upset with the regulatory overreach we are experiencing now. People are faced with arbitrary fines completely out of proportion to any harm they could conceivably be causing.

Ah, good thing I'm talking about fees, not fines. It's the difference between a sales tax and a speeding ticket. I also explicitly stated that the schedules would be set in proportion to harm being caused, at least as best as we're able to. Of course, that brings up a different point - it should probably charge different amounts depending on whether the pollution is affecting the ground, air, or water.

As for civil asset forfeiture, I laugh because I just got a nice letter back from my senator after I wrote him to ask for actions to seriously limit said seizures. I haven't heard back from the other congressional members(state & federal) that I also wrote, but oh well.

So I'll repeat: These are fees, not fines, in that they're not punitive. Things do tend to get crazy when you go punitive. This is 'simply' an attempt to render an external cost not paid by the business doing the industry, an internal one, so they have incentive to reduce their pollution. While actually REDUCING the regulatory burden, because now rather than sticking their noses in 'state of technology' and saying you have to have XYZ technologies installed, they simply charge for your emissions, and the business installs XYZ simply in order to save money. They even have incentive to seek new pollution control technology because it'll save them money, as opposed to the current situation where they don't want to see new technology because the EPA will subsequently mandate it.

Comment: Re:Net metering is little more than theft (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49138889) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

Very well stated. I'd also note that the 'easiest' way to cut all pollution from any one industry is to get rid of the industry. It'll most likely move to China and result in even more pollution on the planet, but at least it's not in your yard! Well, unless you're along the west coast of the USA.... A substantial amount of their air pollution is from China at this point.

Anyways, my whole idea is to turn the externality of pollution into a cost paid by the business, even if it's in a flawed 'guesstimate' way.

So there needs to be a balance, and to find the right balance you have to study and know how much you value things.

Very much so.

Comment: Re:Net metering is little more than theft (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49134707) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

Really? And what would the basis for these calculations be?

The usual: Lives lost, work days lost due to extra illness, medical care, damage to infrastructure and habitats, etc...

I think the very idea that you anybody can assign a meaningful, fixed dollar amount to pollution is ludicrous.

Then you're not thinking it through very well, because we do it all the time. Are many of these numbers anything more than WAGs? Often no. We can't assign meaningful damage to any given pound of pollutant, but we can make an educated guess, and that's really all I'm asking for.

If the further developments in science say that $10M per ton of mercury released is understating the cost, then we increase the fee.

Comment: Re:Net metering is little more than theft (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49134397) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

And these numbers come... out of your ass?

Those two numbers? Yeah, pretty much pulled out of the ether, just to make an example. Calculating the real charges for polluters would require pulling out the serious spreadsheets and crunching some numbers.

Why? Are you thinking you'd rate them differently?

Comment: Re:Net metering is little more than theft (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49133193) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

Do you understand what this means:

Fossil fuels are being burned in places like China to manufacture panels that, over the next 30 years, will not produce a greater amount of energy than went into the creation of the panel (and inverters, etc).

ibpook's original statement is incorrect for modern panels, and has been for quite some time. Modern solar panels will create more Joules of electricity than the joules it took to make them, their mounts, and yes, even the inverter, in about 4 years. Even if they were initially made by burning coal for energy, they will eventually more than offset that carbon by displacing carbon here in the USA(or Europe, or anywhere). Even if it's displacing natural gas, or in a slightly non-optimal area. Up here in Alaska, it might take 6.

Comment: Re:Realistic (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49133147) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

I posited on using 'retired' EV batteries here.

Heck, a solar future where most cars are charged in the daytime(at work?) because it's cheaper would have massive load leveling capabilities simply by playing with the charging amounts for the vehicles.

Still massive numbers of home power batteries depends on numerous factors, including where you put them. Don't forget the fire hazard for LiIon.

Comment: Re:Let's avoid FUD from both sides, please (Score 1) 364

by Firethorn (#49132905) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

We're working on it.

Low average density means we have a lot of room for biomass and such, like in the article you mentioned. Solar isn't so hot in the winter, and the heating demands are, of course, extreme.

Still, there's a lot of projects going forward to use biomass to provide heat & power, even in the dead of winter.

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