Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Scientists Create Liquid Fuel That Can Store The Sun's Energy For Up to 18 Years

IF this works, it will truly be the game-changer. Storing energy has been the ultimate quest since forever. So far, the best we can do is lithium-ion batteries—good enough to give us Teslas but unlikely to provide us with base loads and eliminate coal plants.  But the idea that we could capture solar energy and store it in a liquid form means we could reuse a bunch of the petroleum infrastructure.

But this is a lab experiment. We do not know how the process scales. We don't know how much energy it requires to make nor do we know how many storage cycles this magic liquid can do before it loses its transformative powers.

But good luck! May the land of Linnaeus and Celsius and Nobel get it right one more time.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Week-end Wrap - January 26, 2019

Week-end Wrap - January 26, 2019
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

[via North Carolina AFL-CIO 1-21-19]

North Carolina AFL-CIO 2019 Labor Legislative Conference (LLC) will be held at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel, 421 S. Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC on February 12-13, 2019. REGISTER & PAY ONLINE. This conference combines training on our legislative agenda with a Labor Lobby Day to advocate for working people. Registration is open to members of AFL-CIO affiliates and community allies. Register by February 1st to get our discounted, "Advanced" ticket pricing! Read more.

Martin Luther King on BASIC INCOME

[via Naked Capitalism 1-21-19]

Panic is on the agenda at Davos – but it’s too little too late
[Guardian 1-23-19, via PDOC member Kim Piracci]
Pity the poor billionaire, for today he feels a new and unsettling emotion: fear. The world order he once clung to is crumbling faster than the value of the pound. In its place, he frets, will come chaos. Remember this, as the plutocrats gather this week high above us in the ski resort of Davos: they are terrified.... 
In its pretend innocence, its barefaced blame-shifting, its sheer ruddy sauce, this is akin to arsonists wailing about the flames from their own bonfire. Populism of all stripes may be anathema to the billionaire class, but they helped create it. For decades, they inflicted insecurity on the rest of us and told us it was for our own good. They have rigged an economic system so that it paid them bonanzas and stiffed others. They have lobbied and funded politicians to give them the easiest of rides. Topped with red Maga caps and yellow vests, this backlash is uglier and more uncouth than anything you’ll see in the snow-capped Alps, but the high rollers meeting there can claim exec producer credits for the whole rotten lot. Shame it’s such a downer for dividends.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The way its supposed to work

The Diamond-Star auto manufacturing facility in Normal Illinois was shut down by Mitsubishi in 2015. Selling an old auto plant is amazingly difficult. They tend to be very large (2.6 million square feet—242,000 sq. meters) surrounded by rail yards an other transportation hubs. When in operation, an auto plant is an operating investment of roughly $1billion, with 1200 skilled operators to make it all work. At one point, this operation cranked out 200, 000 cars per year—or about one a minute.

This plant is being refitted to make electric pickups called Rivian. The selling price was $16 million. Some of the equipment is unusable. Some, like a paint shop, is extremely valuable. But the biggest advantage is that the plant has only been closed for four years. This means that many of those valuable producer-class types it takes to create a working production plant are still in the area. My guess is that the Rivian roll-out will be a lot smoother than the Tesla Model 3.

When I was in college, I worked at an auto-parts store that was part of a small chain. The head of purchasing once told me to never order parts from California—parts made in the Midwest were better-built, cheaper, and they arrived as promised. He was right in 1970. It will be interesting to see if the Midwest is still home to some world-class manufacturing expertise.

I am NOT a truck guy so I have NO idea if these things will sell to the folks who like their pick-ups loud and petroleum-fired.  Scaringe looks like HE knows trucks so this might work.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Week-end Wrap - January 19, 2019

Week-end Wrap - January 19, 2019
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

The Green New Deal: How We Will Pay For It Isn’t ‘A Thing’ – And Inflation Isn’t Either
Robert Hockett, January 16, 2019 [Forbes,via Naked Capitalism 1-18-19] 
I was frankly surprised to find so good an article in Forbes, which is usually a voice for the reactionary rich. But, stopping to consider: it makes sense that any person, even if rich and reactionary, who accepted the facts on the looming disasters threatened by climate change, would realize at some point that solutions are incredibly expensive, on the order of at least $100 trillion. The next obvious question: how to pay for the solutions? If you're rich and reactionary, it must be pretty terrifying to suddenly comprehend that if society is going to survive climate change, society is going to have to take a LOT of your money in taxes to be able to afford the fixes required. Modern monetary theory and its promise that governments can just create all the money needed, must appear as nothing short of salvation.
The short answer to ‘how we will pay for’ the Green New Deal is easy. We’ll pay for it just as we pay for all else: Congress will authorize necessary spending, and Treasury will spend. This is how we do it – always has been, always will be. 
The money that’s spent, for its part, is never ‘raised’ first. To the contrary, federal spending is what brings that money into existence. 
If years of bad or no economic education make that ring counterintuitive to you, you’re not alone: politicians and pundits who ought to know better are with you. But the problem is readily remedied: just take a look at a dollar (or five dollar, or ten dollar, or … dollar) bill. The face you see is George Washington’s – a public official’s – not yours or some other private sector person’s. The signatures you’ll find, for their part, are those of the Treasurer and the Treasury Secretary, not yours or some other private sector person’s. And the inscription you’ll read across the top is ‘Federal Reserve Note,’ not ‘Private Sector Sally’s Note.’

‘Note’ here, note carefully, means ‘promissory note.’ Money betokens a promise. Hence money’s relation to credit. We’ll come back to this later. The money that Treasury spends is, in any event, jointly Fed- and Treasury-issued, not privately issued. That is to say it’s the citizenry’s issuance, not some single citizen’s issuance. It’s like a promise we make to each other. Hence the term ‘full faith and credit’ you’ll hear about when asking what ‘backs’ our currency and our Treasury securities.... 
The truth of the resource constraint is that money usually can be publicly issued and spent only at a rate commensurate with new goods and services supply. If the money supply grows too rapidly for goods and services to keep up, you get the old problem of ‘too many dollars chasing too few goods’ – inflation. If the money supply grows too slowly to keep up with productive capacity, you get the opposite problem – deflation, a far more serious threat, as we’ve seen since the crash of ‘08
Over the past four decades or so, inflation in consumer goods markets – so-called ‘Consumer Price Inflation,’ or ‘CPI’ – has been by and large nonexistent in the ‘developed’ world. Our problem has been just the opposite – deflation. That is what slow, ‘anemic,’ and even ‘negative’ growth rates across the ‘mature’ economies in recent decades have been about. What inflation we’ve had has been concentrated in financial markets, where the ever-more rich in our ever-more unequal societies gamble their winnings. Meanwhile those below the top have had to spend less and borrow more, bringing deflation and, worse still, debt-deflations after the financial crashes inevitably brought on by asset price hyperinflations in our financial markets. 
Which takes us to the Green New Deal. Representative Ocasio-Cortez, whose educational background is in economics, understands as few leaders seem to do that our problems of late have been problems of deflation, not inflation. She also knows well that both inequality and the loss of our middle class have both caused and been worsened by these deflationary trends, along with their mirror images in the financial markets: our asset price hyperinflations – ‘bubbles’ – and busts. Her Green New Deal aims to do nothing short of reversing this slow-motion national suicide – and end our ongoing ‘planet-cide’ in the process.
[Axios, North American Wind Energy Association 1-16-19]
A combination of state, regional and federal policies could make the ambitions of the Green New Deal's goal for 100% renewables a reality, writes Robbie Orvis, director of energy policy design at Energy Innovation. "Although a massive undertaking, this energy transition is technologically feasible and economically beneficial," he writes.
[The Hill, via American Wind Energy Association 1-14-19]
American lawmakers must support the Green New Deal plans to shift away from carbon-emitting fuel sources toward completely renewable energy, wrote hundreds of environmental organizations in letter to the House of Representatives. "As the United States shifts away from fossil fuels, we must simultaneously ramp up energy efficiency and transition to clean, renewable energy to power the nation's economy," they wrote.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Leisure Class amuses itself

The following is from the Caucus99percent site. This is where all the good writers from Daily Kos went after it became abundantly clear in 2016 that Kos had no tolerance for the Progressive / Populist / New Deal wing of the Democratic Party and went out of his way to annoy the Bernie Sanders supporters.

The Russia Hoax sickens me. I have precious little tolerance for these sorts of maneuvers but this is worse than even the 1950-60s. My problem is that I have seen Russia, read her literature, listened to her music, and marveled at her playwrights.

And Ice Hockey—it's damn easy to follow the game in Minnesota and watched when Herb Brooks spent six seasons at the University of Minnesota reverse-engineering the hockey theories of Anatoly Tarasov—the supreme genius of Russian hockey. His efforts were rewarded when he coached a bunch of college kids to a Gold Medal in 1980 beating the top ranked teams in the world to do it—vs Czechoslovakia 7-3, USSR 4-3, Finland 4-2. Their only blemish was a 2-2 tie against Sweden who had the utterly awesome Pelle Lindbergh in net. Tarasov himself, who through bureaucratic Soviet stupidity was no longer the coach of the Big Red Machine, recognized that Brooks was his peer. How can such a relationship NOT be a good thing? And yet 39 years later we are being told that our diplomats are criminals if they even talk with their peers in Russia—thanks for nothing Russia bashers.

For me, the Russians are fellow people of winter and I find it exceeding difficult to watch politicians and news media defame these people for some cheap political advantage. They have suffered through great hardships over the last 150 years, and I find it disgusting to watch an ignorant weasel like Adam Schiff look into the camera and tell us easily refutable lies about one of the great cultures in history.

Moreover, the world is facing a climate calamity. Time is running out quickly. Our tax money should be spent of remediation, NOT on some exercise of "who can tell the biggest whopper and get away with it."

If You Have Been Playing "THE RUSSIA HOAX" at Home, along with Our Studio Audience, You'll Want to Grab this Clue!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Week-end Wrap - January 12, 2019

Week-end Wrap - January 12, 2019
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

Constitutional Foundation of the US Economy: Powers are Implied Not Enumerated
Tony Wikrent, April 9, 2017 [RealEconomics]
These issues go to the heart of the question: What is the role and purpose of government? They include such specific issues as the General Welfare clause, states rights, implied versus enumerated powers, and the reach and scope of the Commerce clause. Contrary to the idealized wrong-wing myth of the U.S. economy being founded on the principles of laissez-faire, the framers of the Constitution deliberately set out to create a central government strong enough to force the thirteen states into one national economy. To do this, the national government undertook a number of programs and policies to build and strengthen the national economy by encouraging and protecting manufactures and commerce, establishing a national banking system, and promoting and directly assisting the development of transportation. 
The first Act of Congress established the administering of oaths of office for federal officials, but the second Act was the imposition of the Hamilton Tariff to protect domestic industry and raise revenue. In 1791, Congress chartered the First Bank of the United States. The Patent Office was created in 1802. Direct federal involvement in the building of transportation infrastructure included projects authorized under the 1807 Coast and Geodetic Survey, and other measures to improve river and harbor navigation, which were formalized and put on a more permanent footing by the 1824 Rivers and Harbors Act. Various Army expeditions to the west, beginning with Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery in 1804 and continuing into the 1870s, gathered and disseminated geographical and scientific knowledge that was crucial to opening the West to settlement (see for example, the careers of Major Stephen Harriman Long, Major General John C. Frémont, and Brigadier General Randolph B. Marcy). These expeditions were almost always under the direction of an officer from the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, an organization that has been almost completely written out of American history, but which comprised the elite of U.S. Army officers. Pursuant to the General Survey Act of 1824, Army officers were assigned to assist or direct the surveying and construction of the early roads, railroads and canals -- whether they were private or state projects did not matter.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Another Producer-Class visionary—Mate Rimac

A car nut from Croatia, Mate Rimac, has grown up to be a VERY deep thinker on the future of transportation—who also happens to build beautiful hypercars on the side. In this presentation, he explains the problems and potential of autonomous vehicles. He also explains why making all this work is so important.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Week-end Wrap - January 5, 2019

Week-end Wrap - January 5, 2019
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

It’s Not Your Money
Ian Welsh, April 15, 2015
You also didn’t earn most of it. 
It seems like every time I discuss taxation, some libertarian will waltz in and say: “It’s my money and I don’t see why the government should be able to take it.” 
So let’s run through why, no, it isn’t your money. We’ll start with two numbers. The income per capita for the US in 2005 was $43,740. The income per capita for Bangladesh was $470. 

Now I want you to ask yourself the following question: Are Bangladeshis genetically inferior to Americans? Since not too many of my readers think white sheets look great at a lynching, I’ll assume everyone answered no. 
Right then, being American is worth $43,270 more than being Bangladeshi and it’s not due to Americans being superior human beings. If it isn’t because Americans are superior, then what is it? 
The answer is that if it isn’t individual, it must be social. On the individual but still social level, Americans are in fact smarter than Bangladeshis because as children they are far less likely to suffer from malnutrition. However not suffering from malnutrition when you’re a baby, toddler or young child has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the society you live in and your family–two things over which you have zero influence (perhaps you chose your mother, I didn’t!). 
Bangladeshis won’t, on average, get as good an education. They won’t get as much education either, since every child is needed to help earn a living as soon as possible. For most Bangladeshis, there’s no room for the extended childhood and adolescence to which westerners have grown accustomed, which often stretches into the late twenties or even early thirties, amongst those seeking Ph.Ds or becoming doctors or lawyers.