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Comment Re:This is retarded conservatism to help 'coal' (Score 1) 463

The advantage for Americans is we expend our labor making other things, and we end up with more stuff being bought per person. That is to say: the import of cheap goods from China has made every single American--from the poorest class to the richest class--more-wealthy, improving our standards-of-living immensely. We would have to pay greater amounts of money for the same goods otherwise, and thus we would live at a lower standard--it'd be as if we were all substantially-poorer--to no advantage to the American worker or the American economy.

Comment Re:prediction... more good comments... not (Score 1) 463

Morality is irrelevant; minimum wage is an efficiency model. More to the point, though, minimum wage espouses a particular goal, and it cannot meet that goal if its purchasing power becomes continuously lesser.

If it were about morality, we'd have an unresolvable conflict: implementing a minimum-wage increase throws some of the poorest of poor out into the unemployment line to starve; while not implementing a minimum-wage increase lets all of those poorest of poor continuously face greater hardship until they begin to starve. QED, who gets randomly executed because fuck it?

Your labor force is made of adults. Children don't produce; they simply consume. Your laborers work for forty years--from age 18 to age 58, roughly, although it's longer now--and if one of them dies, you need eighteen years to begin replacing them. That assumes you can pop out a baby, feed it, clothe it, give it medical care, grow it to an adult, and then dump it right into a job without investing any more in preparation which you could have avoided by not killing your previous laborer. The other side of this is we expect retirees to be essentially cheaper than children, or at least we want the full ROI of their employable lifetime before they become an economic burden.

Minimum wage is a type of welfare. We have a minimum wage and public aid system, which ensures that the working-class at least get a minimum viable income, while the reserve labor force (the unemployed and underemployed--not working full-time) gets aid to keep them alive and healthy. It's spotty, and worked as best anything could before a Universal Social Security became technically and politically viable; now the United States can now end all hunger and homelessness at a $1 trillion reduction in total costs to the taxpayer--without raising taxes on anyone--and so that's technically-better.

These aren't feel-good moral actions. These are efficiency. When you come up short on efficiency in an economy, people die unnecessarily. You have the capacity to care for the sick, to feed the hungry, to supply the means to live, to stabilize lives; and you squander it, you waste it, and so people die of disease, they starve, they become homeless. The more-efficient your economy is, the greater the standard of living; and the more-stable your economy is, the less-likely people are to have good savings, a good income, insurances, everything to keep them ready for any sudden life crisis and still suddenly end up poor, homeless, and dying of diseases we should have eradicated decades ago.

We trade efficiency away for moral reasons. We accept more death, more poverty, and more suffering so that we can pursue things which we enjoy, and so we can go through life without living in constant fear. The ideals for efficiency by central command simply don't work; but efficient control through constant surveillance, state-controlled information to shape political opinions, and other means of crushing out freedoms can bring strictly-better prosperity. That's bland and it takes away peoples's humanity, or something along those lines; it's the kind of world nobody wants to live in unless they're in charge--and often not even then. Those are the things of which we accept the costs, although to be fair they're usually costs paid by someone else--most of us don't end up the one starving in the streets because of a little loss of efficiency, so we'll gladly trade it away.

You can't claim "morality" if you're going to be blind to what pain and suffering you do and do not cause taking your high ground. That gets you such brilliant, morally-sound ideals as cutting off trade with China, condemning hundreds of millions of people to joblessness, homelessness, and starvation, because we think their wages are too low and want to equate Chinese labor to slave labor. Murder on a grand scale far beyond anything Hitler ever did is what a surprising number of people believe would be "morally-correct" and "The Right Thing To Do(TM)", so long as they can stand far enough back from the carnage to claim their hands are clean.

Comment Re:prediction... more good comments... not (Score 1) 463

They're facts. Minimum wage increases keep minimum wage in line with the actual purchasing power of money. The job cycle caused by minimum wage drift and correction is an unsightly side-effect. Conservatives don't want to admit the former; liberals don't want to admit the latter; both are true. The objective conclusion is minimum wage increases are necessary for a healthy minimum-wage system, and should occur at small intervals to keep the system stable and avoid wide employment and poverty cycling.

As for hiring quotas, you realize you can't actually pay wages if you don't have revenue, and you can't get revenue unless people are buying, right? Jobs aren't created by businesses selling; they're created by consumers buying. A job comes into existence because money is being thrown in the direction of a void and keeps bouncing off; we put a worker there and the money starts flowing through.

Comment Re:This is retarded conservatism to help 'coal' (Score 1) 463

Aircraft, medical devices, plastics, and organic chemicals. Food is also a big one, since the United States controls the largest fertile basin in the world. For that matter, we export a lot of fiber (cotton, mostly).

We also have a lot of domestic infrastructure work, services like shipping and retail, medical services, and even exportable services like logistics (businesses all over the world ask American businesses how to run a business, and pay for the service). Much of that stuff simply can't be displaced; the high amount of retail and shipping is actually supported by the large amount of purchaseable products we import, since the source of those products doesn't affect how many can be shipped or retailed by the same technology (trucks, cashiers). That means if consumers purchase 40% more pants at the Chinese-import price than they do at an American-made price, there's 40% more trucks carrying pants, 40% more mechanics maintaining those trucks, 40% more fuel used by those trucks, 40% more cashiers scanning those pants, and so forth. Pants are, of course, a small fraction of all retail, and the increase in these domestic service jobs is 40% of the proportion represented by pants in this model.

We also produce a lot of oil, steel, and so forth. We also make cars that get sold all over the world. Americans hand-construct heavy machinery like cranes and hydraulics rigs.

Manufacture is bigger in America than it ever was, and yet employs fewer workers than ever. The same is true of farming, with something like 3x as much farm output since the 1940s yet a sharp reduction in workers actually involved in farm production--all the way up the supply chain, not just on the farm. Other sectors have grown much more than these, however, and so the proportion of American productivity represented by manufacture is actually shrinking, while things like medical and IT have grown tremendously.

Those are things we wouldn't have if we insisted on making all our crap here at inflated costs. We'd be passing our money back and forth and talking about how we saved the Rust Belt, and we'd be poor as shit because people would be factory workers instead of doctors and computer programmers. There would be no high-speed Internet, no Spotify, no Netflix. We'd look like America 1950s medical technology, where things like fMRIs and cancer treatment just didn't exist, and many diseases were just untreatable. We'd have fewer pharmaceuticals, and we'd get those by having fewer regulations so that we could just fire off poorly-tested, poorly-understood drugs and deal with the consequences of serious side-effects, birth defects, and whatever else doesn't get picked up by rigorous testing.

Seriously, how do you think we went from a stable 58% labor force participation rate to 65%, with under 5% unemployment, while getting so much shit from import trade? Jobs continue to "go out of the country" and the number of employed Americans keeps growing faster than the number of actual Americans. Why do you think we haven't outsourced the stuff we do make here, when China is begging us to let them sell us more crap? It doesn't make sense to spend $38M on an aircraft you can build locally for $36M.

Comment Re: Yes but (Score 1) 711

He didn't say, "The light timer implementation attempts to provide a yellow of 15 seconds, but is flawed and runs its cycle in 5." He said, "The light timer implementation attempts to provide a yellow of 5 seconds, and does so; 5 seconds is incorrect and it should be 15."

Unless the timer is technically intended to do something other than what it's currently doing, he was arguing civil engineering. According to his actual letter, he was arguing that the timing was too short from a civil-engineering perspective. He was arguing about the movement of traffic.

The specific flaw he was pointing out was in the time selected. That is an attribute which can be implemented by a mechanical, non-electrical system that moves candles about. It has nothing to do with electrical engineering, and is an ends to which you can use electrical or mechanical system--or a bunch of humans counting aloud--as a means.

Comment Re:prediction... more good comments... not (Score 2) 463

People are always competing for social status. They want everyone to recognize that they're better than you. Being wrong is a bad way to go about that, hence why debate is about influencing the audience and not persuading the other guy.

Honestly, think about it for a second. Suddenly the deterministic, factual, correct conclusion is "an opinion" so both mutually-exclusive assertions are equally-valid and thus that person can claim to be not-wrong. That doesn't even make sense in technical discussions. Why would somebody pull that particular argument? Why does it happen so frequently in online forums?

Comment Re:Keystone pipe is mainly for shipping oil to Chi (Score 1) 463

We're already pipelining oil from Canadian tar sands through existing US pipelines, at high pressure, causing enormous oil spills. Taxpayer money cleans those up. Even if we're just letting Canadian companies sell it to China, they now have to pay American companies (which American governments can tax), and a properly-designed pipeline will spill less oil that we then need to clean up, as I said above.

Besides, if Canadian oil is cheaper than American, then we'll buy it here in America. If American is cheaper, we'll sell ours to China.

Comment Re:Keystone pipe is mainly for shipping oil to Chi (Score 1) 463

Sounds like American companies get a piece of oil that would route around them, then. We get revenue from this shit?

What about the environmental impact of current routing of oil through leaky pipelines run way outside their design pressure? Taxpayer superfunds still pay for that.

Comment Re:Storage? (Score 1) 463

Advanced forms of compressed-air storage with thermal recouperation are the next-generation technology. There's a lot of talk about batteries from battery suppliers and uneducated pundits who don't know shit about city-scale power storage and can only conclude that large storage facilities are made of big, expensive parts while battery banks are made of small, cheap parts.

Think about it this way: A battery is cheap. We can just slap a battery onto a power pylon. We can space them around the city, close to point of use, so there's less loss from battery to house consuming the power. We can expand this with the grid, laying batteries out everywhere. That's obviously a cheap, cost-effective solution with many benefits.

Snipe the obvious technical problem first: Power generation has to flow from the source to the point of use, with a battery in the middle for intermediate storage. Having it close to the source means more loss to the destination; having it close to the destination means more loss from the source. Location of the generator matters; location of the storage facility doesn't, so long as it's "in between". Either way, it matters much less with high-voltage DC transmission, so "in between but a little of to the side by 20 miles" is functionally-equivalent to "right on the pole connected to my house".

A battery is cheap, blahblahblah, okay. What costs more to build, maintain, and operate: a 1,000MWh storage facility built out of $178-per-cell lithium batteries, or a 1,000MWh storage facility built out of giant tanks and piping for a recouperating compressed-air storage system that cost millions of dollars for the tanks, the pipes, pumps, turbines, and so forth?

That's the thing: batteries are cheap. They're versitile. You can throw one up on a pole--and you can drive all over the god damn place for hours to get to the widely-spread batteries, climb the pole, bring the battery down, repair it (replace bad cells), and so forth. You can put the batteries all in one place to avoid that.

Problem is a facility to store a ton of power generation for one hour of run time. I've seen $145-per-kWh cells, and a city of 80,000 homes requires 45MW. That's 45MWh to run for one hour. For each hour of stored energy, that's $6.525 million. If you built a regional storage facility for 1 million homes for 1 hour (562.5MWh), the battery cells alone (never mind any BMS circuitry, housings, or the facilities around them) would cost $81.5 million.

Texas built a 300MW-output, 30,000MWh (yes, 30GWh) CAES plant for $200 million. Not the equipment. The entire, operational facility. Again: just the lithium battery cells for a battery plant storing 45MWh cost $81.5 million. The fractional cost of that capacity in the Apex CAES is $0.3 million.

It's funny because people keep talking about batteries, largely because Tesla is talking about making a lot of money selling batteries. Lithium battery grid storage is a giant scam. Tesla makes excellent cars, end of story; grid-scale storage is not a Tesla battery problem.

Comment Re:If coal is dead, killing its bueaucracy won't h (Score 1) 463

Nobody migrates from job X to job Y, in a positional sense. Those jobs will continue to exist as long as required. Causing 10,000,000 people to go unemployed over 5 years instead of 5 weeks prevents an economic recession by unemployment spike, but those people--whoever is sitting in that seat when it comes time to downsize--will be lain off.

They'll then go into the churn with people who already don't have jobs, and compete. Either they get the next job, or some other guy gets the next job; somebody in this pool stays unemployed.

There are no people. The romantic ideal of migrating a worker from an excessed job to another one by some economic oversight is complete and utter bullshit, and outright evil. It means taking people who are already transitional--in and out of jobs, currently out of a job--and condemning them to forever-unemployment.

Comment Re:This is retarded conservatism to help 'coal' (Score 1) 463

The problem is the people of that region got poorer; literally every other American got richer.

That means the middle- and lower-class money purchasing coal power moved to purchasing oil and natural gas power (this is why the oil companies are so damned rich; everything goes back to energy, and their huge profits are actually... pretty small, really, just that being a pretty small portion of fucking everything).

That means a bunch of other jobs are supported by the money that used to support the coal miners.

So who is entitled to their livelihood? The people on the wrong side of progress (because they were in the right place at the right time), or literally every other person, with special emphasis on people whose current employment is based in being further along in the path of progress?

Remember when people died of low-grade diseases, running water was too expensive to implement, and an iron railroad cost more than a decade of the entire world's GDP? Remember when everyone had one set of clothing because a shirt required 479 labor-hours (thus priced at 479 hours of wage) in total to make rather than 1.91? (1.91 hours at $3.20/hr Chinese labor, including wage and social insurance taxes, all the way up to coming out of the factory--excluding the 6 cents of shipping to the US, the several dollars of shipping domestically through distribution centers to the retail center, and the 0.83 cents per item for a cashier at 980 item scans per hour.)

Technical progress--the reduction of labor-hours invested in producing a thing--means some people get displaced out of their jobs along the way. It also means everyone who has an income can now buy those things with less of their income. That's how we got clean, running water and sewage management instead of cholera and plagues. That increase in wealth is what raises the poor up generation after generation--they're still poor, and yet they're a lot better off than middle-class a hundred years ago.

I keep saying this: this is why we have welfare. It's also how we have welfare. It's too expensive to take care of displaced workers with nice things like unemployment insurance when everyone needs 95% of their income to survive, because you can't take another 6% without a bunch of people starving to death. On the other hand, "an entire industry collapsed" is a nice sob story that manages to ignore "a lot of cities are dirt-poor ghettos where people struggle to get by": you get to claim that, somehow, these poor people were wronged, and are more-important than those poor people. You also get to ignore that other people who were poor are now rich--or at least that some blown-out shithole in Washington became a technical empire with $170k salaries while Detroit became a crippled ghost town with rusted-out factories.

That's the way the world works. It's a constant net-gain, but it has voltage potential. Why do you think I've been after a Universal Social Security since it became technically-possible in 2013?

Comment Re:This is retarded conservatism to help 'coal' (Score 1) 463

Manufacturing is rapidly automating

Fortunately, we import shitloads of things from China. It's cheaper than making it in America, and we have the Americans make other shit that's more-expensive to make elsewhere. That's trade advantage.

Suddenly: mass-automation, cheaper to make in America.

Well. That's a nice economy you've got there, China. Too bad somebody decided to come along and fuck it up by moving all the stuff you've been exporting to local factories staffing like 10 people to your 500, shipping via self-driving electric lorries, and leaving you with a sudden 27% upsurge in unemployment.

Seems we were exporting knowledge. IT services, business logistics. Also a whole hell of a lot of food, because you can automate a farm, but it costs a hell of a lot more to simulate climate than to just live there. That doesn't just magic away overnight. Sucks to be you!

Comment Re:prediction... more good comments... not (Score 3, Insightful) 463

The problem is Slashdot, Reddit, and the rest of the world are all full of assholes; and people like to claim reasoned, weighted analysis of facts are "opinions" rather than something like "conclusions". That lets people claim their so-called opinion is as valid as yours and, specifically, not capable of being wrong.

Take a minimum wage argument. Minimum wage has some complexities if you have a firm enough grasp of economics and money in economics.

Minimum wage increases because the amount of money increases faster than the amount of people, which requires more spending on the same products, which can only happen if prices increase. That means a fixed minimum wage starts to fall as a wage; with a given positive rate of inflation, that means these people's buying power and standard-of-living falls. To avoid minimum-wage workers becoming poorer and poorer, you have to raise the minimum wage along the way.

At the same time, wages are paid from revenue. That means spending. Spending comes out of income, which means it's a periodic cycle. Higher wages for everybody (proportionally) means inflation; higher wages for a subset means fewer things bought, which means fewer jobs. As minimum wage falls in purchasing power with inflation, additional jobs are created in this lowest-class; and when we true it up, those additional jobs are lost.

So a minimum wage increase 1) is necessary to meet the specific goals of minimum wage; and 2) has consequence of reducing the number of jobs, largely due to artificial increase in jobs available by lowering wages and thus allowing price lowering. Those are real, verifiable impacts largely agreed upon by economists across decades of publications, with a few dissenters who published papers with murky conclusions, weak assertions, and flawed methodology. That's a similar pattern to anti-vaxxer and climate-change debates, to which we tend to default toward consensus.

This draws all kinds of asinine responses everywhere. Most of it is people arguing economics from their own ideals instead of reasoned thought or a survey of consensus. To be fair, people argue a lot from often-repeated but factually-inaccurate ideals not supported by science, like that minimum wage increases are paid for almost 100% by the rich, or that a $1 increase in a minimum-wage income becomes $6 of spending and jogs the economy 6 times as hard. Most of the things we talk about are things we haven't personally been able to verify.

One of the enormous red flags, though, is the reasoning of "opinion". Someone, recognizing they've lost the reasoned argument because the facts stacked in front of them are too obviously-correct to attack, will claim that their "opinion" that raising minimum wage increases the number of jobs available (via minimum-wage spenders being able to spend more--never mind that they're only getting money that now isn't spent elsewhere, and will have to spend a larger chunk of that money on things produced by minimum-wage workers) is just as valid as your "opinion" that raising minimum wage decreases the number of jobs available.

You might notice these things can't be opinions. They're causal outcomes. Action X gives result Y.

Opinions are great. We can discuss opinions all day. Where will technology take us? Is Uber or Lyft better? Is Bullet for my Valentine as good as Iron Maiden? Is Final Fantasy 7 or Ocarina of Time more overhyped? Opinions are not facts, and conjectures occur in the absence of sufficient underlying reasoning and historical trends--and even conjectures have some factual basis, largely suggesting the form of what's missing. At a point, we're discussing what some of us understand better than others--and much of the world is filled with children who have less knowledge than the people who they're arguing with, and insist they must be right even though the other guy once thought the same thing, and was wrong then.

Welcome to a world full of assholes who care less about facts than about furthering their social position by either being right or being allied to a group of peers with the same imaginative fantasy about how the world works.

Comment Re: prediction... more good comments... not (Score 1) 463

Assuming that Keystone-piped oil is at a price point lower than other oil, the Keystone pipeline will reduce the amount of money Americans spend on current products (oil and oil derivaties, like transportation run by diesel trucks) in a number of ways, all of which reduce the labor invested in getting oil and thus the cost of oil (hence the price).

One of those ways is a reduction of environmental spilling (loss of oil for which wages were paid to mine, load, and pipeline) and, correspondingly, a reduction of environmental clean-up (paid for by oil price increases or tax hikes to disconnect the price of spills from the price of oil). Current pipelines run over design pressure and spill a lot; the Keystone XL pipeline runs at a higher design pressure and will spill less.

The other ways are all just "it's cheaper to get oil here, but it's harder to move it where we need it, so we fixed that".

So the question is: will we still use a lot of jet fuel, diesel, non-plant-derived plastic, non-synthetic lubricant, and other crude-derived products for long enough to make ROI on Keystone XL? If so, then the price of products with these things in their supply chain falls in terms of income percentage (i.e. we keep creating more money than people, so prices go up; but by the time incomes double, products cost 1.8x as much, so the products have gotten cheaper). If not, then it's a waste of labor on things we could build otherwise and thus makes us less-rich than comparable alternatives.

Mind you, it's not quite that simple, either. I've frequently taken financial actions on which I'm never hitting ROI simply to increase stability. Sending 70% of your money every month to pay loans and utility bills is a bad position; sending 17% of your money that way after expending $35,000 over 2 years is better, even if you're not going to break even on that unless nothing changes in the next 25 years (meaning probably going to end up tens of thousands behind in the long run), because you're now highly-flexible and can recover huge piles of emergency fund money in little time.

Keystone XL simplifies American oil production and distribution, reduces costs, and decreases the scale of environmental damage caused by continuing operation. Will it give an ultimate ROI? If not, is the intermediate stability provided by these impacts worth the up-front capital expenditure? Complex question.

"Yes" and "No" aren't honest answers to that question in this case. Sometimes it's damned clear. For example: solar installations are cheaper than coal, oil, and natural gas installations now, in many cases; the span of costs has overlapped for a while now, such that some proposed new power installations would be cheaper as solar projects than coal, oil, or gas in near-term total running cost. In such cases, the answer to "is installing solar capacity good for all Americans?" is a solid "YES!" because it lowers costs, reduces environmental impact, and provides capacity which is cheaper in the long run to operate than any fuel-consuming capacity (meaning you can turn down the gas and oil because solar is effectively "free" at max capacity, in that it's not cheaper to generate half as much on purpose whereas you'd use less coal if you turned down the output on a coal plant). This is not so clear-cut in the case of Keystone XL, with numerous concerns about ROI period and the intermediate position it affords otherwise.

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