Monday, April 27, 2015

Free Trade has Free in it. Don't oppose freedom!

Oligarchy apologist and hack, a.k.a. "economist" Gregory Mankiw had an op-ed in the Sunday New York Times, Economists Actually Agree on This: The Wisdom of Free Trade.

Well, not all economists agree. I'm beginning to lose patience with God: if there were justice in the universe, Mankiw would be run over by a armored car carrying cash to a clientele of payday lenders.

Anyway, one poster on DailyKos credits Mankiw's article with changing his mind on the TPP.

And on heart surgery.

I can't help but conclude by the same logic that it would be a great idea for me to have open heart surgery. After all, medical researchers and cardiac specialists are almost unanimous in saying that the surgery is statically beneficial to the patients who get it done. Since I'm a big believer in science, say no more, I don't have any need to get down in the weeds with all the 'why' questions. I'm in excellent health now and can't wait to experience how fantastic I'll feel afterwards.
The very first comment is pure genius. It may not be the commenters' original, but I think it is, because posters on DailyKos are pretty good at giving credit when due. Forthwith, here is one of the best commentaries on FTAs, "free trade agreemnets" I have ever seen:

1). Free Trade has Free in it. Don't oppose freedom.
2). Free Trade has Trade in it. Don't oppose trade.
3). All FTAs are always great, because neoliberalism.
4). When US exports rise after a FTA, game over. FTAs rule!
5). When US exports fall after a FTA, it wasn't the FTA's fault.
6). THIS NEW FTA is DIFFERENT from the last CRAPPY FTA.
7). Yes, it has the exact same language. But more FREE!
8). No, it is not a problem that corporations write it.
9). THIS time, the corporations put words that say labor things and environmental things in it. It's basically a revolution.
10). No, the new rules can't be enforced or punished. But FREE!

Musk as a Producer Class hero

Climate change is exposing a serious problem in the social order.  Because the underlying cause of atmospheric carbon loading is the use of fire, it is a problem completely outside of the known methods for collective social action.  I mean, think about it, have you ever read any religious or political manifesto that condemns the use of fire?  I have been around religion and politics my whole life and I have never seen anything like that—although I supposed it might be theoretical possible.  MOST religions and political movements spend their major energy on the subject of sex.  It's kinda of like rock music that way.  I remember the music of the late 60s and early 70s as the sound track of my political activism.  Yet now that I have made a serious attempt to collect the best pop music from that era, I discover that about 95% of the genre is a manifestation of the band's sexual energy.

So here we have have it—a problem that is right in the wheelhouse of the nerd elites.  I have a friend who took a course at Harvard called "Physics for Poets."  Such a class might be good in theory but the outcome is that he never learned real physics.  At least he didn't learn the main reason for such a course at Harvard—the idea that science is this exotic sub-specialty that you hire done if necessary.  Because if you confuse thinking about the social implications of a phenomena like fire, with the thinking necessary to replace a human activity that has existed since before recorded history, you wind up becoming Bill McKibbon—the author of over 20 excellent books on climate change who couldn't dream up any solution more meaningful than a march on the UN.  Of course Veblen nailed it in 1899 when describing the Leisure Classes—if you don't respect the useful arts, the best you can be is a third-rate critic of the practitioners of those arts.

But as so many people have pointed out to me, of course a global problem like climate change is political.  "At least we can vote out the people who stand in the way of a serious effort."  It's a valid point.  Yes it would be a good idea to incarcerate the brazen criminals who have seized control of society's economic levers to enrich themselves.  Yes it would be wonderful if the politicians would vote to spend a serious fraction of the $100 trillion it will require to update the global infrastructure.  But just remember, even IF we were to close down Goldman Sachs and sentence their big criminals to hard labor, AND got the congress to fund a development bank to spend the big bucks for new systems, we would still only be at day one of real solutions.  So when I argue that climate change is not a political problem, I am really arguing that compared to solving a problem like eliminating fire, the politics is just a Leisure-Class detail.

Fortunately, we really aren't at day one for building out solutions.  Because while a Harvard boy was organizing a march on the UN and concerned bureaucrats were jetting to Durban and Lima, some members of the Producer elites have been busy actually rolling out their vision for a new society.  Earlier this month, I wrote a post about a man named Fred Olsen who is making the crazy-difficult problem of erecting off-shore wind turbines almost routine.  And today we see an enthusiastic California lefty praising the accomplishments of Elon Musk.  A good reminder that if the problems of climate change are to be solved, it will be done under the direction of engineering visionaries like Musk and Olsen.  The best the Leisure Classes can do is ensure that such people are properly funded, and then get out of the way.

Just remember, the recent explosion of solar installations is not due to hectoring by the NGOs, or a religious awakening, or the fact that we all got good karma at the same time.  Solar installations are exploding because folks did the hard work of figuring out how make affordable solar panels.
The 24/7 Solar Battery Systems

Tesla Tackles Global Warming

by ROBERT HUNZIKER  APRIL 26, 2015

Somebody’s gotta do it!

Meanwhile, America’s Congress ignores one of the biggest problems of all time, global warming/climate change. America’s entrepreneurs know better. They’re not waiting for Congress to fiddle whilst the planet burns.

American ingenuity, in the hands of Tesla Motors Inc., is taking on global warming head on. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, is risking a fortune to make a fortune with renewable energy. And, yes, he’s in it for profits, not as a benefactor to “Greenies,” but who really cares if he sets in motion an unstoppable nationwide renewable revolution.

In that regard, America is about to witness one of the greatest economic revolutions of all time as renewable energy creates jobs galore, high-paying jobs, and America’s infrastructure gets a well deserved scrubbing, out with fossil fuels, in with solar and wind.

After all, somebody has to fill in for Congress’s shortsightedness, as several prominent members of that august (cough) body don’t even believe in anthropogenic global warming, denigrating human-caused climate change at every photo-op. But, then again, what do they really, truly believe in? Where’s the nation’s “vision” when it’s so desperately needed, rather than obstruction?

But the situation with Congress is even worse than their outright obstructionism. While Tesla works to create a clean energy country, several members of Congress are scheming behind the scenes to knock down the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which will be “the first-ever national limits on global warming pollution from power plants,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. What’s wrong with this picture? A lot! Really, really a lot!

Nationwide Renewable Energy Announcement Coming, April 30th

Shouldn’t Congress be making announcements like this?

Elon Musk recently informed Wall Street to prepare for a major announcement come April 30th when Tesla will announce a home battery system and a “very large” utility-scale battery for 24/7 solar power. Of utmost interest, Tesla will explain the advantages of the new battery solutions as well as the reasons why past battery solutions were not compelling.

A system of 24/7 solar energy, including auxiliary battery-power, is America’s energy dream come true in response to critics who astutely point out that solar doesn’t work so well when the sun sets.

Tesla’s innovation not only revolutionizes energy worldwide, it impacts foreign policy throughout the Middle East, breaking the U.S./Saudi juggernaut, which arguably keeps the region in constant conflict. After all, Saudi Arabia may go broke.

Not only that, America’s Congress should be shamed, embarrassed, humiliated as they’ve been sitting on comparable technology used by the International Space Station for years.

Anyway, the Tesla story only gets better. Here’s what Tesla Chief Technology Officer, J B Straubel said last month at the Vail Global Energy Forum: “Eventually you’re going to have a 100% battery electric vehicle fleet, working in tandem with an almost 100% renewable electric utility grid full of solar and wind” (Bloomberg News).

Significantly, Tesla’s charge into renewables for home and biz is not a pipedream. It’s happening right now in real time.

24/7 Solar Battery Systems

“Tesla has been able to install more than 100 projects, really without anyone noticing,”

Andrea James, analyst with Dougherty & Co. (Bloomberg News, April 22, 2015).

Tesla has already installed its batteries in 300 California solar-powered homes.

Wal-Mart has already installed Tesla batteries in eleven California stores with solar power.

According to Wine Business Monthly, Jackson Family Wines in Santa Rosa, California is in partnership with Tesla for battery storage and vehicle charging stations.

Cargill plans to use a one-megawatt system with Tesla batteries for clean energy at its Fresno, California plant.

The Temecula Valley Unified School District in Southern California is planning on use of Tesla batteries for their solar installations. According to Janet Dixon, director of facilities at Temecula, “We spend roughly $3 million a year on electricity, and most of that is lighting and air conditioning. We are going solar to reduce our overall costs and the battery storage should help us manage our peak demand.”

At the end of the day, one can only wonder whether Elon Musk’s face belongs on Mt Rushmore right next to Abraham Lincoln who saved the country from itself by winning the battle against ignorance, intolerance, and small-mindedness. Although not a public servant like Lincoln, Musk is fighting the same battle today on behalf of the entire country.

Musk’s technological genius is a potent dynamic, offsetting all-powerful political forces that deprive the country of a nationwide renewable energy plan… clean energy!

All of which goes to underscore the shamelessness of dirty politics and dirty fossil fuels, which go hand-in-hand. more

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Finnish election

The night the Berlin Wall came down, I was spending time with a Finnish journalist who was pretty certain the East Germans would be less likely to celebrate if they had any idea what was in store for them.  She pointed out a serious list of the things DDR did well.  She was actually pretty depressed about the whole affair.  After awhile she decided it wasn't the time to be so gloomy and she suddenly brightened and said, "But I forget the greatest tragedy of all—if the Berlin Wall disappears, where are USA Presidents going to go to give their hopelessly embarrassing speeches about democracy?"

At that, I dissolved in laughter because that crack was funny on about a dozen levels.  I have lived in Finland and met doormen and cab drivers who had probably forgotten more about Russia / USSR than the whole Russia section of USA State Department will ever know.  My journalist friend spoke five languages fluently and lived close enough to Leningrad / St. Petersburg to get their TV shows—she was several clicks more informed than the cab divers.  The Finns have a vested interest in understanding their big neighbor with whom they share a 1000 km border.

But what made her remark especially funny was the simple fact that compared to the Finnish multiparty democracy with her informed and committed participants, the goofy version we have in USA is really a joke.  Here in Minnesota, we brag about our nation-leading voter participation rates of nearly 70% in presidential elections.  In Finland, 70% would be a bad day in Black Rock.  There a many nations with much healthier democracies than in USA, but Finland really does have a perch from which to point out our flaws.

All this comes back to mind when I read the results of Finland's most recent election.  I am quite certain that she wants to be an excellent member of the EU but if she doesn't have a healthy relationship with Russia, her economy will suffer badly.  As one Finn once told me, "Whether the EU succeeds or fails, we will still have a 1000 km border with Russia."  Finland cannot afford to indulge the foolishness / evil of the USA neocons.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015

I was there for the original Earth Day in 1970.  Heard some decent speeches before a group of us marched over to a GE share-holder's meeting being held nearby.  A woman next to me managed to chant "Save Mother Earth" about a jillion times before I gave up and went home.  I was cold—it wasn't really spring yet.  I was so depressed that the best we could muster in the face G frigging E was to chant mindlessly.  I would never attend a protest event again.

My thinking on the relevance of the environmental movement hasn't changed much since then.  The problems facing the planet are severe and acute.  Problems for grown-ups are met with with "solutions" that barely rise to the level of begging. But in some ways, I actually believe this might be changing.  The reason is obvious—the price of solar cells has dropped so dramatically that all those schemes to subsidize a transition to solar suddenly seem unnecessary.  So here we see no less than Michael Klare recognizing the new facts.  He has been a traditional environmentalist over the years so this really is encouraging.

So here's to spring and another Earth Day.  It has taken a long time but we finally might have turned some sort of corner.  Let's hope so.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bad times for Bakken and fracking

Fracking is one of those ideas that doesn't even look good on paper.  It's crazy expensive, it's environmentally insane enough to have provoked organized political objections, but mostly, there isn't very much oil in those tight shale formations—the well's production drops off pretty rapidly.  Fracking only exists because the easier ways to get liquid hydrocarbons have been exploited.

Fracking barely makes sense when oil is $110 a barrel, and for a wide assortment of reasons having to do with the decline in speculative interest in all commodities by the hot-money guys, that price may not be seen again for several years.  So what happens?  The guys in charge of reporting the facts on the ground start fudging their figures, and when that won't work, they come up with more creative interpretations of the data.

While North Dakota isn't all fracking, it's a best-case scenario.  So if there are problems in Bakken, the whole industry is probably in trouble.  This story is definitely worth watching.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dutch suit over Climate Change

This is a story that is interesting because it is (somewhat) unexpected.  Holland is one of those places where environmental matters are treated with utmost seriousness.  The place is crawling with bicycles, the trains run often and on time, while preparations for rising sea levels is both serious and extensive (which is to be expected in a nation that has significant areas below sea level.)

And yet, we see that there are Dutch citizens willing to take their government to court for lack of action over Climate Change.  If those folks believe the Dutch government is being irresponsible, they should come here to see what real irresponsibility looks like.  But that is pretty much the whole point.  The Dutch have made the progress they have made because they have citizens like this.  And these activists are totally correct—not even the Dutch government is doing nearly enough.

Unfortunately, suing the government is not going to help much because the real problem is that the budgetary constraints forced on the country by the EU means they cannot spend what is required to meaningfully address the problem.  And in an odd way, the Dutch are partly responsible for that too.  One of the hard-core neoliberal crazies is Jeroen René Victor Anton Dijsselbloem, the Dutch Labor politician who has been president of the Board of Governors of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) since 11 February 2013.  He is enforcing the party line that made the Euro an instrument of neoliberal policy when it was signed into being in Maastricht Holland in 1992.  So even though Dijsselbloem is behaving in a wholly irresponsible way, he probably thinks he is the adult in the room.  I'll bet Herr Schauble just loves the young man.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Escobar on China / Russia

The USA believes their sole-remaining-superpower self-delusions largely based on the idea that because we spend more money on the military, we will always win.  There's a couple of problems with such thinking; 1) While the ability to wreck things may be in fact an indicator of power, it isn't terribly relevant most of the time.  For example, the ability to wreck things does not come in so very handy when the problem is climate change, etc., and 2) Even IF an oversized military leads to the perks of power, it is no guarantee that some combination of weaker opponents won't win the day in the end.

Unfortunately, the USA has huge disadvantages that high explosives cannot always paper over.  I always worry how our pathetic education system, our tolerance for historical illiteracy, our insular smugness, our contempt for people outside our borders, etc., won't eventually make us so weak we will fall on our faces when tripped up by some supposedly weaker force or combination thereof.

So now we see China and Russia figuring out that between the two of them, they form a legitimate force that will allow themselves to at least ignore Empire USA.  If they could rope Germany / Europe into their new club of nations, they would bring down the Empire in many meaningful ways.  As it is, China-Russia is probably terrifying some of the geopolitical strategists in Washington.  Some.  The rest are too close to total unconsciousness to care.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The power of the Bank for International Settlements

Not long ago, I made an assertion in a casual conversation to the effect that the world's central banks coordinate their activities—a statement beyond rational debate—yet I was immediately accused of being conspiracy nut for saying it.  I was literally flabbergasted.  "Of course central banks coordinate their policies," I sputtered, "in fact they have a big bureaucracy in Basel Switzerland that does little else called the Bank for International Settlements.  Look it up!"  And because this is the age of smartphones, he did.  After a few minutes of reading he looked at me and just said, "Oh!"

Not one person in 100 has any notion that this Swiss institution is arguably the single most powerful one on earth.  It literally holds the power of life and death over the heads of billions of people.  And IF those cranky bankers in Basel were to decide that we needed a scientific and technological explosion to cope with climate change and were prepared to fund it, the rest would be Producer Class details.  Which pretty much means that we will know who was responsible if the problems of climate change are not meaningfully addressed.

And that's the whole point of something like BIS.  If we were to put it out of business, something very much like it would have to be created in its place.  BIS exists because it is needed.  But what we certainly do not need running the place is a bunch of Calvinists with 16th-century mentalities who believe the solution to the various global calamities is to encourage austerity.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Varoufakis, Stiglitz, and Galbraith on Greece

The Greek mess has NO conventional solutions.  There is really no way the Greeks can pay off those astronomical debts.  And so they talk about putting band-aids on an open wound.  Finance minister Varoufakis somehow believes that he can simultaneously fulfill the promises made to the voters without leaving the EU or abandoning the Euro.  Sorry Yanis, math still works and without abandoning the currency built on neoliberal assumptions, you can either pay of the Troika or take care of your citizens—both not both.

The tiny remnants of progressive economics has rushed to do what they can to help Mr. Varoufakis in his time of dire distress.  Stieglitz has gotten his oar in the water along with folks like James Galbraith.  Good intentions unfortunately do NOT trump math.

First up, we have a panel with Varoufakis and Stiglitz.  Stiglitz is about as enlightened as anyone could be who was once a house neoliberal for the World Bank and a Riksbank award winner.  So he doesn't wander off the reservation.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Understanding Russian history

As someone born in 1949—just four years after the end of WW II—I felt like the specter of that war just hung in the air.  Many of the men of my father's generation had participated.  By 1945, there were over 12 million people in the various armed forces so the experience was not rare.  Some experiences barely qualified as warfare—I knew a guy who spent the war flying barrage balloons to advertise that entertainers were going to try to sell you war bonds.  Others faced harsher realities—a neighbor was actually in on the liberation of Dachau and had pictures to prove it.  Here in the midwest the war was often a tale of half-starved farm boys from dust bowl Kansas who became skilled B-29 mechanics in just months.  WW II was largely a good thing for the USA economy with major real-world investments that are still paying off.

But WW II was no damn party for the people of USSR.  They were being invaded by people who thought them subhuman—with an agenda to match.  The destruction was almost indescribable.  The Germans didn't just want to kill and enslave the people of USSR, they wanted to destroy their culture down to the last trolly car and Tolstoy manuscript.

Unfortunately, the tale of their war was never told to our generation.  We had aerospace to celebrate, and drive-ins, and rock around the clock.  The number of my fellow citizens who even know that Russia was in WW II is tiny—I can count on one hand the people I have met in life who know about USSR vs Germany.  Yes I know, its a big topic and folks have other interests.

Here we have no less than Frank Capra explaining the war in USSR in about as clear and compelling way as can be imagined.  The footage is remarkable—that it even exists borders on the miraculous.  His films came out in 1943, were funded by the war department, while he was a known Republican.  That it is propaganda designed to get folks of USA to at least cheer for our ally in the fight against the Nazis is obvious.  But even today, it is a giant step better than the pure ignorance most have on the subject.  Consider it the minimum anyone should know about the battle for USSR.

The "Enlightened West" is boycotting the Russian 70-year remembrance of the end to their Great Patriotic War.  They believe they are punishing Putin.  They are not.  Rather, they are trampling on important history and so confining themselves to a world that never makes any sense—the logical outcome of the self-satisfied historical illiterate.  If nothing else, it is embarrassingly rude although I guess from the Russian perspective, rudeness is an improvement over Barbarossa.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Meaningless, student-council-irrelevant democracy

For those of us who may have forgotten (or the non-USA citizens of the world who cannot believe it is true) the wonder that was student-councils in our high schools should have clued us in to the fact that we were never going to get within miles of any meaningful political decision—not in high school, not ever.  When I was a senior, our student council spent the vast majority of its time planning the Senior Prom—including such weighty matters as the "theme" and what color of crepe paper would be hung from the ceiling.  Considering that the male population of the school was slated to become part of the killing machine in Viet Nam, there were actually political events that would have been slightly more relevant.  But no, we got to choose prom colors.

At the university level, the war in Viet Nam disrupted the careful plans to keep us hopelessly mired in irrelevance—mostly because the student body president was arrested and jailed for burning his draft card.  But by 1974, the university administration had shoved that genie back into the bottle.  The effort was helped along considerably by the substitution of identity politics for those of economic justice and making war.  Even the newcomer, the environmental movement, came pre-castrated to the point where folks advocating the return to wood stoves or building houses of straw bales were taken seriously.  It has gotten so bad that in the fall of 2014, organizations devoted to climate change held a march on the UN to demand they take the problem more seriously.  It was a clear example of political powerlessness and irrelevance.  The environmental movement has grown so accustomed to its irrelevance that most supported the big march because it was such a lovely gesture.

Of course, the biggest irrelevance of all is that almost none of us have any say in how the economy is organized.  Any politician who would dare question the root assumptions of the neoliberal consensus is immediately dismissed as irrelevant AND crazy.  And so the biggest issue for most people—their standard of living—has been removed from political control.  The banksters love this arrangement and since they control the money supply, can buy whatever propaganda necessary to control the sheep.  Considering the we in USA have been conditioned since puberty to accept our irrelevance, the banksters really don't have to spend much considering how much power they have and how rich they have become.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

An innovative billionaire turns his attention to wind power

One of the reasons I wince whenever I hear some lefty go off on the evils of the rich is that not all rich are created equal.  Some really are the disgusting jerks whose very presence inspires revolutions.  But some are in fact creative, giving, imaginative leaders who use their wealth to make the world a better place.  After all, used well, wealth is just another term for opportunity.  And while a bunch of corrupt and cold-hearted banksters make me furious at their very existence, rich guys like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk do not bother me one little bit.

Look at it this way.  In the very near future, some very big decisions must be made about the way the global society is organized.  The better these decisions are made, the more likely it is we are going to survive as a species.  The question then becomes—who is going to make these big, life-critical decisions?  Committees tend towards mediocrity, military leaders tend to be damaged by training as killers, politics has been captured by the corrupt and hopelessly ignorant, bureaucracies tend towards inertia, and academia is usually at least one generation behind the leading edge.  But there IS one group that has consistently shown the imagination, organization, and leadership to re-invent the way the world works—the Producer Class elites.

The following is from Fortune magazine.  These folks tend to worship the rich without making a whole lot of distinctions about how they got rich—for Fortune, that is just a detail.  But in this story, we see a profile of one of those Nordic billionaires who have egalitarian instincts and have been shaped by a culture that teaches that it is good to be useful, even (or especially) if you have become rich.  This culture also teaches that learning is a life-long pursuit and so we see a guy who produced huge innovations in the oil industry now solving some of the big problems of off-shore wind generation in his old age.

A Producing Class hero is something to be.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The importance of design

My first big speech after Elegant Technology's publication was to the AEA convention in Anaheim 1993.  I believed I had come to the point in 120,000 words when I wrote the book so distilling those ideas into a 12-minute speech was pure agony.  I was not entirely sure I had chosen the best topics to cover even after the speech had been published in the Journal of Economic Issues months after it had been given.  But some 20+ years later I am much more charitable about my choices because if there is any ONE thing I would wish folks could understand, it is that the most serious environmental problems are the result of conscious choices made by some the greatest geniuses to have ever walked the planet.  Yes indeed, my precious Producer Class elites have designed some monumental disasters.  Which means the following really is the book's most significant insight.
The need for elegant technology assumes that:
  • Humans cause pollution (apes and dolphins may be bright, but they never created a toxic waste dump.)
  • Humans are conscious beings.
  • Pollution is caused by the conscious acts of these humans.
  • The more difficult the act of humans, the more planning it takes.
  • The truly difficult pollution problems are caused by acts of significant planning and design.
Therefore, pollution is a function of design.

If we can design to pollute, we can design not to pollute. Elegant technology is rooted in the decision not to pollute.
Note: We are talking about design here.  Design is a process whereby some neural synapses become the specifications for something new.  And it is at that stage that better decisions can be made most easily.  It much easier to move a wall on a set of building plans than it is to move that wall after it has been built.  Because this is true, I have been following the subject of industrial design for much of my adult life.  I came to the subject from the POV of the early 20th century Nordic designers who believed that beautiful and functional products were the right of everyone—not just the idle rich.  They believed that sociology was a critical factor of good design.  And of course, economic ideas are also vitally important.

The most famous large USA company that glorifies the creativity of good industrial design is, of course, Apple.  And interestingly, the Apple people are especially impressed by the work of Dieter Rams and his body of work at Braun.  Ram is impressed by the work of Apple and is flattered, rather than annoyed, by the design compliments from guys like Jonathan Ive.  The great industrial designers form a very small town.  It is a tiny group because industrial design is crazy-difficult to do well.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Checking up on Italy with Beppe Grillo

In early 2013, a Populist political movement swept through Italy on its way to winning over 25% of the vote—a significant showing for a brand-new party run by a comic.  Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement had become a haven for those Italians who had become thoroughly disgusted with the idea the the political system had to be hopelessly stupid and irredeemably corrupt.  So a bunch of new citizen activists were elected to change things only to discover how deeply the world of evil and stupid were entrenched.  Worse, they discovered that when it came to economic complaints, merely being a member of the national parliament did not ensure an invitation to any important meetings because the world of the banksters is effectively beyond political control.

Sp two years have seen no improvement at all in the problems that brought all those accomplished idealists into the Italian government.  In fact things have gotten considerably worse—to the point where Grillo is now pushing very hard for Italy to leave the EU.  But Grillo is more than capable of explaining himself.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Green energy is losing its political definition

One of the things that will surprise folks from USA visiting Germany is that the Green Energy movement is not particularly a lefty thing.  When Germany decided to get out of the nuclear power business post Fukushima, the decision was made by the VERY right-wing government of Angela Merkel.  Der Spiegel, the newsmagazine that has published superb articles on the problems of actually building a green society over the years, has shown itself to be mindless parrots of neoliberal economics and is Ted Cruz-crazy on the subject of Ukraine.

Because, I follow green technologies pretty closely, I read a lot about the German efforts.  So the idea that the political right can be enlightened on energy issues does not come as a surprise to me anymore.  Even so, I am especially delighted with the story of Georgetown Texas making an attempt at 100% renewable.  No Minnesota lefties in that town, I'm guessing.

When I think about this, it shouldn't come as a big surprise.  The institutional reality is that energy production requires a LOT of big, expensive, heavy-duty machinery.  Deep-water drilling oil platforms are designed and built by people who are comfortable with GINORMOUS things.  Most lefties I have ever known are so confused by technology, they actually consider assembling something from IKEA an "ordeal" (actual description overheard at a lefty political gathering—no one burst out laughing!)

So just as the revolutions are won when the navy mutinies, perhaps the serious efforts at building the Green Society will come when the conservatives sign on.  I mean, the folks who create the ability to power spaceship earth on its solar income will probably drive to work in a pickup with the Rushbo on the radio.  Meanwhile, the IKEA-is-an-ordeal crowd will remind us of their essential futility by marching in the streets protesting everything including meaningful solutions. This crazy idea that passing a few international agreements will solve something like climate change is, unfortunately, just another manifestation of the 'government is magical form of room service' mentality.

Solving energy problems at the municipal level has deep traditions here in USA.  Going green could bring this back.  Go Georgetown TX!