11 August 2010

Speed blogging

  • Critical theorists will now inflict us with their opinions on ecology. Read the Journal of Ecocriticism (e.g., "Mining Westerns: Seeking Sustainable Development in Pale Rider and McCabe and Mrs. Miller"), but hold onto your sanity.

  • PERC has some great reports that ALL enviros should read (to make sure they are doing the RIGHT thing to save the earth): Recycling Myths Revisited (= don't bother) and 7 myths about green jobs (= they aren't).

  • Interesting: "Anti-immigrant backlashes don’t always track closely with actual immigration. They track with unemployment, popular anxiety, and a fear of displacement by strangers. They depend on woeful narratives of national decline, of which there is lately no shortage." Got that Dobbs? McCain?

  • The weakening of Hong Kong capitalism will lead to many problems, such as those manipulated regulations at Goldman Sachs and the banking industry. A pity.

  • The Do Not Call Registry tops 200 million numbers. I guess that people really DON'T like telemarketers! Read more on its origin and how telemarketers fought (and fight) it.


Kristen said...

I don't understand your comment about Hong Kong and the banking industry. I just don't see why guaranteeing poor worker's minimum wage (which is the main thing in the Hong Kong article) necessarily leads to greedy unscrupulous bankers (the main thing in the other two articles). It seems to me that greedy unscrupulous bankers are around even in places where governments make no effort to protect their citizens from being fleeced, used up, and thrown out with the trash. There are probably lots of them in Hong Kong now. So granting the poor workers a raise by forcing minimum wage on companies is not suddenly going to create them.

Josh said...

In regards to the "7 myths about green jobs" article, I'm curious as to your take on jobs and government spending in an economy where private spending is so low as to create a substantial capacity gap.

I'm going to read the paper, and I generally understand the crowding-out concept of public vs. private investments during a time of inflation. I also understand the need to maintain consistent inflationary pressures. What about when we are looking at deflation (e.g., 5-yr Treasury real yield curve rate is at -0.02%).

Josh said...

Okay, I'm reading the "7 myths" right now...
#1: I agree, that is a problem.
#2: What??? Over 2/3rd's of our work is in the service sector in the U.S. Are you seriously arguing that these jobs have no productive value? Have you ever run a business? How valuable are clerical hours to your business' efficiency? #2 is a joke.
#3: All jobs forecasts are unreliable, but okay.
#4: This is debatable. Growth comes from workforce & productivity increases. The question is a balancing act, not an either/or proposition. I'm guessing the proponents assume all public dollars and regulations are automatically less efficient than private ones.
#5: The fact doesn't relate to the claimed myth. Actually, the myth claim depends on the particular market.
#6: This is an ideological disagreement, and depends on the situation. Markets require social trust - stability and consistency - as much as they require an informed self-interest and property rights. The wording of the myth tips the ideological hand here, rather than really considering an issue.
#7: Again, the myth was poorly worded to provide an easy target. However, there is some merit to the claim.

Thanks for the link. I'll read it, and post about it at my blog.

albionwood said...

@Josh - And I'm reading the Recycling polemic right now, and finding similar issues.

#1: This is only true if you consider the USA as a whole, and believe that bigger is necessarily better. Even at that, it ignores the fact that the increasing capacity was developed largely in response to the perceived crisis.
#2: This is true - modern methods of collection and disposal have greatly reduced the health risks of garbage. The authors overlook the long-term implications of "dry-tomb" landfilling, but so does almost everybody. (Regulations only require owners to set aside enough money to maintain the facilities for 30 years after closure. What happens after that? Nobody knows.)
#3 - WTF?? Chickens? The NYT? Nothing in this discussion actually refutes the "myth." Yes, packaging has benefits; yes, it has gotten more efficient - in terms of weight, not volume; but landfill capacity is volumetric! (And isn't the NYT newsprint recycled?)
#4 - This is mostly true, if you ignore the resource depletion effects of shipping that waste around. National regulation of solid waste disposal sites (EPA Subtitle D) helped level the playing field between States.
#5 - Pure, unadulterated woo-woo. Remember, guys, past performance does not predict future results. Go read Taleb.
#6 - This one is completely true, and I wish they'd made it #1. How something is done often matters more than what is done.
#6 - It's true that landfilling is cheaper than recycling, but that's not actually the question, which is about resource consumption. The authors just equate money and resources, as if this were an idealized economic world. Nevertheless, they make some good points in the last section about sustainability and subsidies.
#7 - All true, but the "myth" seems like a straw-man. Does anybody really claim there wouldn't be any recycling, absent government mandates? And the poverty-driven recycling (scavenging) they admire so much has been largely eliminated by the same consolidation of the industry they lauded in #1, #2, and #4.

Here's one myth about economics: #1 - The Free Market Will Solve Every Problem and Make Everything Better.