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Comment Wrong (Score 1) 492

Rational investment decisions are made on the basis of whether the risk/reward ratio is low enough. Higher capital gains taxes reduce the reward (the denominator in that ratio) as a first-order effect, and increase the risk as a second-order effect.

Buffett's folksy aphorisms are irrelevant (and in this case, wrong). There are sometimes good reasons to raise tax rates, but stimulating investment is never one of them.

Comment Rising CO2 (Score 1) 663

Given the following facts, how can you can argue that rising CO2 is bad for the environment?

* During the vast majority of Earth's history, there were no polar ice caps at all. The only reason our planet currently has ice caps is because we are still emerging from the most recent ice age. When the earth is in its "more normal" state of having no permanent ice, sea level is about 610 feet (186 meters) higher than it was 20,000 years ago, and 210 feet (64 meters) higher than it is today.

* When Antarctica iced up there was a large-scale extinction event. The creation of the Antarctic ice cap was NOT good for life.

* "Millions of years ago, Antarctica was warmer and much wetter, and supported the Antarctic flora, including forests of podocarps and southern beech." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... ) "During the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event about 34 million years ago, CO2 levels have been found to be about 760 ppm and had been decreasing from earlier levels in the thousands of ppm." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... )

* So there you have it: when life was thriving, the CO2 level was thousands of parts per million. The CO2 level in June 2015 (as humans are well along in the process of transitioning away from fossil fuels): 402 parts per million

* Also keep in mind that every species that's alive today, including polar bears, survived the comings and goings of dozens of ice ages.

Comment Re:I'm torn.... (Score 1) 663

I can't defend sugar, but I can defend CO2.

During the vast majority of Earth's history, there were no polar ice caps at all. The only reason our planet currently has ice caps is because we are still emerging from the most recent ice age. When the earth is in its "more normal" state of having no permanent ice, sea level is about 610 feet (186 meters) higher than it was 20,000 years ago, and 210 feet (64 meters) higher than it is today.

When Antarctica iced up there was a large-scale extinction event. The creation of the Antarctic ice cap was NOT good for life.

More fascinating truth about climate: "Millions of years ago, Antarctica was warmer and much wetter, and supported the Antarctic flora, including forests of podocarps and southern beech." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... ) "During the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event about 34 million years ago, CO2 levels have been found to be about 760 ppm and had been decreasing from earlier levels in the thousands of ppm." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctica#Climate )

Imagine! When life was thriving, the CO2 level was thousands of parts per million. The CO2 level in June 2015 (as humans are well along in the process of transitioning away from fossil fuels): 402 parts per million

Comment I can imagine... (Score 1) 904

Driverless changes everything forever in ways we can't yet even imagine.

Something you didn't touch upon: I'm guessing the average privately-owned car is in motion 40 minutes per day; that means it sits around doing nothing 97% of the time. Not good to have so much of society's capital tied up in idle assets! If we could quickly summon driverless cars to get us around, those cars would have much higher utilization rates -- maybe they would be in motion for 13 - 16 hours per day -- in theory, driving the cost of personal transportation way down, with none of the drawbacks of mass transit (like having to walk a mile to a bus stop, and being tied to its fixed schedule).

Comment Not as much progress in New York? (Score 1) 904

Watch the AQI loop around New York, and you can see air pollution rising and falling along the commuter roads into the City in lock step with the morning commute. I can't even imagine a New York with 50-80% fewer gas-powered cars on the road.

I've been watching air quality around Denver for 20 years. The used to be thick smog over the city every day. Now, thanks to cleaner-burning engines, it takes a rare, severe weather inversion for that to happen. So I can easily imagine a Denver with no internal combustion engines, because pollution-wise, we've effectively made it 95% of the way to that destination.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 904

Autonomous cars should benefit everyone (resulting in both lower premiums for drivers, and higher profits for insurers). If not, someone is doing it wrong.

Here's how that works: when a business's costs increase, it tends to pass some but not all of the increase along to the consumer. Some, so that its profits don't bear the brunt of 100% of the cost increase, but not all, because that would make it less competitive.

The same thing happens in reverse when a business's costs decrease (such as when an insurer finds itself paying out fewer claims): it tends to pass some but not all of the savings along to the consumer. If it pockets 100% of the savings in the form of higher profits, it will lose market share to competitors who don't do that. If it pockets 0% of the savings, the owners are not acting in their own interest.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 904

It won't be the government that pushes people towards autonomous cars. It will be insurance companies.

That depends on how quickly both insurance companies and government notice that accident rates decline when humans are no longer in control. Ludditism will make a lot of people refuse to believe, and must first be overcome.

Comment Bike culture (Score 1) 904

The car lobby and car culture in the US has been successful at limiting the options for biking.

My observation is that Europe developed a "bike culture" out of necessity because it was economically devastated by two world wars. The resources just weren't available to effect the same high rates of car ownership as in the U.S. The pressure continues to this day, with fuel prices of $6 - $10 per gallon (after converting from Euros and liters).

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