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Comment: Re: I never thought I'd say this... (Score 1) 296

by silfen (#47944571) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

I come at you from a base libertarian, market friendly ideology.

This discussion is no more about ideology than creationism is about ideology: people irrationally believe in creationism for ideological reasons, but that doesn't make opposition to creationism ideological. We're talking about simple, empirically verified economic facts.

The current, very imperfect system of agriculture has a very good track record in the "not starving" department.

Yes, and the system demonstrably works because of futures markets, global trade, efficiency of scale, and other free market mechanisms; it works despite of government subsidies and price controls (which, while costly, are still pretty limited relative to the market).

You can directly measure and demonstrate how using market mechanisms mechanisms reduces risks, reduces volatility, and improves food availability. The more countries utilize these mechanisms, the more secure their food supply is. We aren't talking about a hypothetical, idealized free market solution vs some working real-world compromise, we are talking about quid-pro-quo incrementally-reduce-market-interference-incrementally-gain-security kind of choices.

Conversely, there is not a shred of evidence that government subsidies of agricultural producers achieve the effects you claim they achieve, and there is no theory by which they would accomplish that. You are waving your hands for ideological reasons, I'm not. You're like a creationist arguing "irreducible complexity" despite two centuries of evidence to the contrary. (But there is tons of evidence that agricultural subsidies have numerous negative effects and are mostly a wealth transfer to the rich.)

Supporters of farm subsidies have argued that such programs stabilize agricultural commodity markets, aid low-income farmers, raise unduly low returns to farm investments, aid rural development, compensate for monopoly in farm input supply and farm marketing industries, help ensure national food security, offset farm subsidies provided by other countries, and provide various other services. However, economists who have tried to substantiate any of these benefits have been unable to do so (Gardner 1992; Johnson 1991; Wright 1995).

http://www.econlib.org/library...

Comment: Re: It's getting hotter still! (Score 1) 607

by silfen (#47943217) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

If we dump all 16,000 gtc of potential fossil fuel in the atmosphere, that would put our levels up by a factor of 20

The maximum we can actually recover and release is about 1/4 of that. A second, serious error with your assumptions is that you think all the released carbon goes into the atmosphere; much of it goes into the ocean and rocks. The upshot is that even 2000 ppm is probably not achievable under any scenario.

Mammals are delicate. There are lots of ways for us to go down. Complex is not good, in terms of being a hardy survivor.

Primates have survived hundreds of glaciation cycles, with swings in global mean temperatures as large as 15F and much of the northern hemisphere covered by ice. Humans today survive in environments from the arctic to the Sahara desert without any significant technology (and with technology, we don't even break a sweat). None of the realistic climate change scenarios come even close to what mammals, primates, and even humans have already experienced many times already.

Comment: Re: I never thought I'd say this... (Score 1) 296

by silfen (#47943125) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

What? Starvation is a historical fact, and in fact still continues today.

It does happen today. But your thesis was that it happens because of free markets and can be cured by regulation and subsidies, when exactly the opposite is the case.

And what happens when prices are high? You sell out your stocks and there is nothing left in inventory should something go wrong.

I have no idea what that even means. If prices for Texas beef are high, people buy less of it and maybe substitute a bit of Alabama chicken. That means stocks of Texas beef last longer instead of selling out quickly.

I'm suggesting subsidizing food production. You are absolutely right - it will ruin the efficiency of the markets. However, I contend that paying a little extra is worth the insurance.

But it does the exact opposite: it prevents insurance from working because farmers don't have to be as concerned about protecting themselves against risk anymore. They just produce what is most subsidized, and if the production fails, the government bails them out.

Let's say that you're argument has won the day and that a pure market approach will keep us all fed and happy. Is it not fair for me to point out that it is impossible to achieve a pure market approach? That corruption and crime will always exist? Couldn't corruption or fraud undermine the market system when a stressful event occurs?

Corruption means businesses paying off the government in order to obtain advantages. Corruption is a problem that occurs when government subsidizes and regulates. The freer a market, the less corruption is possible.

Punishing crime and enforcing contracts, on the other hand, is, of course, a proper function of government. Rather than in opposition to free markets, it is an essential part of how free markets operate. But it is a function that is completely unrelated to subsidies.

Why shouldn't we accept that as fact and build in some safeguards, even if it spoils the efficiency a bit?

Because the choice you pose is a false one; government food subsidies do not improve food safety, they hurt it.

Comment: Re: It's getting hotter still! (Score 1) 607

by silfen (#47941821) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

Concerning the Cretaceous, there is a critical factor you have not considered. The so-called fossil fuels (i.e. carbon laid down by land plants eons ago) was deposited in the Carboniferous, i.e. around 300 million years ago - i.e. before the dinosaurs.

Correct. But atmospheric carbon concentrations were actually lower during most of the Carboniferous era and reached 2000 ppm only at the beginning. And no matter how much we try, we can't actually burn all the fossil fuel deposited during the Carboniferous era because much of it has become inaccessible. There was no runaway greenhouse effect and complex, multicellular life was doing just fine during the Carboniferous era.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 2000 ppm again during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Again, there was no runaway greenhouse effect and complex land animals were doing just fine. And that period was recent enough that there were no significant differences in solar radiation.

"... even if we burned all of it, we'd still be on a livable planet (where do you think fossil fuel came from?)"

As I have demonstrated, it is fallacious to assert that because the fossil fuel was once non-fossil, and living things got along just fine, that it would be OK if the carbon were once again in the biosphere - what's the big deal?

My statement is correct: if burned all of the fossil fuel, we'd probably get to about 2000 ppm, the planet would be perfectly livable (and probably quite pleasant). Your calculation totaled up totally irrelevant carbon sources.

If only they'd had another few million years of evolution before getting slammed by that hunk of space rock,

The problem dinosaurs had was that they had adapted to a stable climate and therefore couldn't deal with climate change; that's why they died out when the climate finally did change.

Mammals and humans succeeded precisely because we are capable of adapting to rapidly changing conditions. That's why we have well regulated body temperatures, strong immune systems, and big brains.

Comment: Re: I never thought I'd say this... (Score 1) 296

by silfen (#47937533) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

With most things I would agree with you. Food is different. We absolutely, positively cannot be subject to the sharp rise and fall of capital markets where it concerns food.

Even if such a "sharp rise and fall" were not just fear mongering, food is such a tiny percentage of US household expenditures that it just wouldn't matter. But sharp rises and falls in food prices are almost always the result of misguided government policies.

Food markets can't be very efficient anyway. The lag between an uptick in demand and, well, a whole growing season is simply too long. People can't wait 6 months to eat.

That kind of reasoning applied about 300 years ago. Between markets, insurance, worldwide production, and modern food storage, these concerns simply do not exist. Each year, some harvests are good others are bad in different places; markets match up supply and demand to smooth that out. It is food price guarantees and subsidies that are actually causing oversupply and shortages.

The solution is to always produce more than you need and then throw away or store the extra. The private market can't do this because the extra would appear on the market and depress prices below the cost of production.

That is in fact, exactly, what private markets do, and they do it extremely well. If prices are very low right now and there may be a shortage next season, I am going to store the food, trade options, and/or diversify geographically. If prices for some product are frequently too low for me to keep producing, I'm going to start producing something else. All of that stabilizes and regulates food production better than any government policy can.

The idea that free markets are good for food production is not an ideological question; there simply is no shred of evidence for the economic mechanisms you believe in, and they contradict everything we know about economics. Agricultural subsidies are objectively harmful and fail to achieve any of the objectives you want.

Comment: Re: I never thought I'd say this... (Score 1) 296

by silfen (#47937167) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

I'm not disputing that. But these farms do not exist in a vacuum. They need to have infrastructure and skilled (as well as the unskilled that you mentioned) labor. Farms need to have mechanics, electricians, plumbers, doctors, lawyers, roads, etc.

Yes, and if we stop subsidizing those companies, they will have to pay higher salaries in order for people to move there. Those subsidies are effectively subsidies for big agribusinesses, nothing more.

If you think it is good for our democracy to have vast swaths of the country controlled by mountain people, well - we're going to have to disagree.

I think it would be good for our democracy to stop both farming and rural subsidies, import a lot more food, and encourage people to live more efficiently by ending subsidies for inefficient lifestyles.

I also think it would be good for our democracy if crony capitalists like you saw the light instead of fabricating problems where there are none in order to justify transferring huge amounts of tax dollars to inefficient and often destructive corporations.

The irony in our current political system is that the people who complain the loudest about big bad corporations, agribusinesses, destruction of the environment, carbon emissions, suburban lifestyle and private cars, money corrupting politics, sustainability, etc.--you know, progressives and big government types--are largely the ones responsible for those problems in the first place.

Comment: Re:Americans shoudln't subsidize internet service (Score 1) 296

by silfen (#47937091) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

But you would condemn them to sub-standard living just for the reason of residing outside of a large metropolitan area.

They are not "condemned" to do anything. They can choose to stay or move.

Many of them are middle class or wealthy to begin with and have more than enough money to pay for the true cost of the services they use.

Comment: Re:Americans shoudln't subsidize internet service (Score 1) 296

by silfen (#47937073) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

Sooo .. all the people out in the countryside with the subsidized phone, water electricity service should just suck it up in this case?

They should suck it up in every case: water, electricity, sewer, phone, flood insurance, fire insurance.

You should pay what it actually costs to live some place, not have other people subsidize your country estate, ski chalet, vanity ranch, retirement vineyard, or beach front home.

Comment: Re:We have (Score 1) 296

by silfen (#47937049) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

Nonsense.

http://www.netindex.com/downlo...

http://www.akamai.com/dl/akama...

http://www.xconomy.com/boston/...

http://www.bloomberg.com/slide...

If you count the US on a state-by-state basis and compare with the rest of the world, US states would take most of the top-10 spots.

On the other hand, parts of Europe (and the EU) are poorly served in terms of telecom services, charging high prices, having low penetration, and/or being slow.

Comment: Re:We have (Score 0) 296

by silfen (#47936933) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

Yes but Europe doesn't have IDIOTS who believe all the garbage that comes from Libertarian think tanks or PR stories paid for by the companies we try and regulate.

In fact, Europe does have those "IDIOTS" and they run places like Germany and the UK: conservatives who advocate free market principles but are also in bed with big corporations. When they deregulate and privatize in Europe, things tend to work better there; that's why the Internet and mobile markets took off and work well in Europe. When they nationalize and regulate, as in the electricity grid, things get really expensive real fast. That's why taxis, food, transportation, housing, etc. are a lot more expensive in Europe.

Comment: Re:well, duh? (Score 1) 296

by silfen (#47936877) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

the issue we have is that each ISP has its own little area with no competition

And why is that? Is it because evil corporation conspire in the market to build monopolies? No.

It's because politicians create artificial monopolies by making corrupt deals with companies and hindering competition through regulation (you know, "you must make special provisions for low income this and that", "you must plant a few thousand trees", whatever). Look at the hoops even Google has to jump through to get permission to put in high speed Internet in various communities.

And after government f*cking up the competition, people then complain that the market isn't working and that Internet service should become a public utility.

And what takes the cake is that people then point to Europe to justify their arguments, when the system in Europe is different and if anything points more to deregulation and privatization.

Comment: Re: I never thought I'd say this... (Score 1) 296

by silfen (#47936713) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

If a rural place is so backward and so lonely that no one wants to be a farmer, what do you think that will do to food production?

Nothing. Most of our food comes from huge factory farms. The people living there are often migrant workers. And the companies running those factory farms are already heavily government subsidized; the bigger they are, the more they get.

Not to mention the simple distastefulness of having barefoot poverty within the US.

Living in the middle of nowhere is expensive, just like living in prime real estate in cities is expensive. In either case, it's not the job of tax payers to subsidize your expensive tastes. If you are mentally ill and want to continue to live that way, that's your choice. Most normal people sooner or later figure out that it's better to move to a place they can afford, which is something we should encourage.

Sometimes market efficiency has to take a back seat to other priorities.

When those other priorities are subsidizing big corporations and people with expensive tastes, we should put an end to it, and that's what agricultural subsidies and subsidies for rural living are.

Comment: Re: I never thought I'd say this... (Score 1) 296

by silfen (#47936663) Attached to: FCC Chairman: Americans Shouldn't Subsidize Internet Service Under 10Mbps

Yes, but at the same time, paying for an internet line to be run to your house can actually cost more than your house in rural areas...

So you're rich enough to afford a house, you enjoy the quality of life of a rural area, but you want other people to subsidize your utilities. Hey, why not demand that other people drill your well, dig out your septic tank, and pay for your solar panels too?

Of course, other people already subsidize your insurance if you live in a beach house, and roads and bridges to the middle of nowhere, a lot of which goes to the already well off or one percenters.

Comment: Re: It's getting hotter still! (Score 1) 607

by silfen (#47934627) Attached to: Extent of Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches Record Levels

The total is 47,600 gtc. That's 60 times as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere. Currently, the atmosphere is 0.04% CO2. So, if we put all the fossil carbon back into the atmosphere, we'd have 2.4% carbon dioxide. ... Which brings me to the other thing that's changed. Early, single-cellular life was adapted to whatever temperature the Earth was at

Most of that carbon is irrelevant because it can't possibly be released. Putting all recoverable fossil fuel reserves into the air might possibly get us as high as 2000 ppm, roughly what existed during the Jurassic and Cretaceous ages. There were no catastrophic positive feedback mechanisms and no runaway greenhouse effect (and the sun is not significantly hotter today than back then). The climate was warm, the ice caps had melted, sea levels were a bit higher, huge land animals roamed the continents, and mammals and primates prospered, but it was a fine, livable earth, arguably nicer than what we have today. Really, stop the pseudoscientific fear mongering.

Wasn't there something about a PASCAL programmer knowing the value of everything and the Wirth of nothing?

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