Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Trickle down economics does not work, says 50 years of study


The paper, by David Hope of the London School of Economics and Julian Limberg of King’s College London, found that such measures over the last 50 years only really benefited the individuals who were directly affected, and did little to promote jobs or growth.

“Policy makers shouldn’t worry that raising taxes on the rich to fund the financial costs of the pandemic will harm their economies,” Hope said in an interview.


* * *

Bubble up works, though.


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Goodbye GDP, hello humanity


"It’s a model of economic success ill-equipped to withstand the impact of crises: pandemics, natural disasters, recessions or all three, said Jason Hickel, an economic anthropologist and senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London.

In fact, he said, the growth obsession 'is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place.' Cycles of extraction, production and consumption to feed economies hooked on growth have increased emissions and destroyed nature, exacerbating the climate crisis and increasing the likelihood of more pandemics. It’s a threat to our health, food and water security ― and to our economic stability."


Yay!  I hope this catches on.  

Saturday, November 21, 2020

biodegradable plastic alternative!


"Winding together long and thin bamboo fibers with short and thick bagasse fibers to form a tight network, the team molded containers from the two materials that were mechanically stable and biodegradable.

The new green tableware is not only strong enough to hold liquids as plastic does and cleaner than biodegradables made from recycled materials that might not be fully de-inked, but also starts decomposing after being in the soil for 30-45 days and completely loses its shape after two months."


* * * 

 The plastics industry doesn't care that the world is drowning in plastic, where microplastics have been found in the highest elevations and lowest ocean depths, never to degrade.  Something has to be done.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Let's dump the fantasy of perpetual economic growth


Even aside from the existential threat of ecological and economic collapse as we deplete resources, destroy biodiversity and heat up the planet, the assumption that economic growth generally makes us all better off is increasingly questioned. 

Developing countries tend to have high growth rates, as more people have disposable income and more markets open for consumer goods. But in industrialized countries, growth generally slows, and efforts to speed it up don't necessarily result in a better standard of living for most people. 

The work of economists like Thomas Piketty, author of "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" (which was not only lauded for compiling the most comprehensive data on wealth disparity to date, but was also a surprise bestseller), has shown that over recent decades, ordinary wages in industrialized countries like the US have stopped rising in line with productivity and growth. 

The benefits of economic growth have increasingly been going to the super-rich, with the divide between rich and poor yawning ever wider. 

* * * *

Yep.  Even just thinking about it logically, growth cannot continue exponentially when you have finite resources.


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Canada goes for a basic income test, and it works


"ot only did those who received the money spend fewer days homeless than those in the control group, they had also moved into stable housing after an average of three months, compared to those in the control group, who took an average of five months.

Those who received the money also managed it well over the course of a year."


The fear has always been that poor people will just blow the money you give them. Turns out this is not true.  Time for a reset.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Compton tries Universal Basic Income


"It is people like Andrade whom a new guaranteed income pilot program is trying to reach, Compton Mayor Aja Brown said. Later this year, the mayor says, the Compton Pledge will begin giving 800 Compton residents free cash for a two-year period. Brown said she thinks the program will have the greatest number of participants in a single U.S. city."


Several tests going!  We'll know soon...

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Whitehouse has more Covid-19 than a province in Canada


"A person — or persons — showed up at the White House with the virus, and more than 30 people have since become sick, including the president and first lady.

In Labrador, a health-care worker showed up sick, went to stores and worked at the hospital, and no one else caught the disease.

Same disease, different outcomes.

The comparisons tells us a lot about why the novel coronavirus spreads, and doesn't."


The pandemic is touching everything in society now.  I am of the opinion that a pandemic just wears human society down so they eventually just try to ignore it and go with the plan of trying to outlive it.  Different cultures, however, seem to handle it better than others. 



Money piling up for just a few


"The 50 richest Americans increased their net worth this year to an amount nearly equal to the combined money and assets of the poorest 165 million Americans, which is half of the U.S. population, according to new data from the first half of the year collected by the Federal Reserve.

The rich got richer this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic — while people struggling financially found themselves in even more dire straits. COVID-19, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans, has disproportionally hurt people of color, older people, women and workers in low-paying jobs."


We're heading back to the Middle Ages where the prince had his castle and an army of knights.  Everybody else was a serf dependent on the prince.  This is definitely going backwards.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A chance to get rid of all this plastic?


"Plastic pollution has contaminated the whole planet, from the Arctic to the deepest oceans, and people are now known to consume and breathe microplastic particles. It is currently very difficult to break down plastic bottles into their chemical constituents in order to make new ones from old, meaning more new plastic is being created from oil each year.

The super-enzyme was engineered by linking two separate enzymes, both of which were found in the plastic-eating bug discovered at a Japanese waste site in 2016. The researchers revealed an engineered version of the first enzyme in 2018, which started breaking down the plastic in a few days. But the super-enzyme gets to work six times faster."


This is great and all, but we really need to find alternatives to plastic in the first place.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

pandemic a great time to try Universal Basic Income


In other words, as Covid-19 has killed some 122,000 Brazilians, it has paradoxically driven down poverty and inequality, at least in the short term, and also placed government welfare at the heart of political debate, like a decade ago with the “Bolsa Familia” program that lifted millions. The issue will reverberate in November’s local elections, a dry run for the presidency in 2022.


* * * 

 People are out of work.  Businesses are closed.  If there was ever a time to try universal basic income, this is it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Universal Basic Income trial begins in Germany


"Germany is about to become the latest country to trial a universal basic income after 1,500 people signed up to a three-year experiment into how it affects the economy and the wellbeing of recipients.

As part of the study, 120 individuals will receive the equivalent of $1,430 a month for 3 years, which is just above Germany's poverty line, with their life outcomes compared to another group of 1,380 people who will not receive the payments."


The pandemic has shown that our economic system is not working correctly.  Time for changes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

minimum wage can't get you an apartment in any US state

"In fact, the average minimum wage worker in the U.S. would need to work almost 97 hours per week to afford a fair market rate two-bedroom and 79 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom, NLIHC calculates. That’s well over two full-time jobs just to be able to afford a two-bedroom rental."

Minimum wage should mean the lowest wage that lets you still make a living.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Turning dead malls into apartments

"At the Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, a suburb north of Seattle, an adaptive reuse project already in progress suggests that America’s vast stock of fading shopping infrastructure could indeed get a second life as places to live. Such transformation could even bring malls closer to the “village square” concept they were initially envisioned to become.
Developers are turning a wide swath of the 41-year-old shopping center into Avalon Alderwood Place, a 300-unit apartment complex with underground parking. The project won’t completely erase the shopping side of the development: Commercial tenants will still take up 90,000 square feet of retail. But when the new Alderwood reopens, which developers expect will happen by 2022, the focus will have shifted dramatically. One of the mall’s anchor department stores, Sears, shut down last year; in a sense, the apartment complex will be the new anchor. "

I wrote about this before about a mall in Mesa, Arizona.  Hopefully this idea catches on rather than just let malls rot.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Making cement with waste brine

"Brine contains magnesium minerals. Kemal Celik, an assistant professor of civil and urban engineering at New York University Abu Dhabi and part of a team at the university's AMBER Lab, extracted a magnesium compound from the liquid, and used it to make the cement.
Celik says the cement was cast into blocks, which were then placed in a carbon dioxide chamber to set -- an innovation which speeds up the production process. The cement was subjected to testing in the UAE before being sent to Japan, where blocks went through further strength and rigidity tests. In addition, an algorithm was developed to calculate how safe the blocks would be if used in construction, Mika Araki, a structural designer at the University of Tokyo, told CNN."
This looks great, although brine can be corrosive so it can't be used with just any other material for construction.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

more success for universal basic income

"The researchers, who conducted 81 in-depth interviews with participants in the scheme, concluded that while there was significant diversity in their experiences, they were generally more satisfied with their lives and experienced less mental strain, depression, sadness and loneliness than the control group.
The researchers also noted a mild positive effect on employment, particularly in certain categories, such as families with children, adding that participants also tended to score better on other measures of wellbeing, including greater feelings of autonomy, financial security, and confidence in the future."

Spain and Scotland are up next.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

maybe huge corporations aren't such a good idea

"Decades of consolidation have made food systems more vulnerable, say experts. Beginning in the 1980s, the federal government allowed more agribusinesses to merge and grow largely without restraint in the name of efficiency—before, antitrust and other policies helped keep these industries decentralized and competitive. Consequently, a small number of giant, often vertically integrated, firms, produce and distribute the bulk of food in the U.S. Their hulking and specialized supply chains are not so efficient in the face of disruption."

Covid-19 is exposing a lot of weaknesses in our corporate system. Just a friendly reminder that corporate law can be changed.

Friday, April 24, 2020

drones to surveil the poor

"Calvert County is one of at least four law enforcement agencies across the country using drones during the coronavirus outbreak to communicate with homeless people, many of whom are surviving outdoors without sinks to wash their hands, and without reliable bathrooms, healthcare, internet access or electricity.
The idea, according to law enforcement officials interviewed by NBC News, is that homeless encampments are often tucked away in hard-to-access areas, and a drone can allow police to patrol with a live camera feed and blast information from the sky without having to venture in person at a time when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging social distancing."


Friday, April 10, 2020

Trickle down is a lie

“Between the first computation in 1982 and today, the wealth of the 400 increased 29-fold — from $93 billion to $2.7 trillion — while many millions of hardworking citizens remained stuck on an economic treadmill. During this period, the tsunami of wealth didn’t trickle down. It surged upward.”

Warren Buffet is a smart man.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

a new attempt at plastic recycling

Since only 10% of plastic is actually recycled right now, many are trying to find a way to raise that trivial number.  Now a French company has developed an enzyme that can break down plastic into usable form.  This new process should be economically sustainable...

"How much would using recycled PET cost compared to starting with petrochemical feedstocks? The authors estimate that, if the protein can be made for about $25 a kilogram, then the cost of the process will end up being about 4 percent of what you can get with for the PET made from it. While that might not be as cheap as petrochemicals—especially now, after oil prices have collapsed—it's going to be relatively immune to future price shocks and is far more sustainable."

We can hope!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Spain moves toward universal basic income after Covid-19

Calviño didn't offer a specific date as to when basic income could be rolled out in the country. But she said the government hoped it would become "a permanent instrument."
"We're going to do it as soon as possible," she said. "So it can be useful, not just for this extraordinary situation, and that it remains forever."


This may be the first time in modern history anyway that a country has adopted this idea.

Basic income money spent on important stuff

"A new story from the Associated Press breaks down expenditures: the payee spends about 40% of his money on food, 24% of sales and commodities, and 11% of utilities. They spent the rest of their money on car maintenance, medical expenses, insurance, education, self-care, and even donations."

with the Covid-19 upsetting the social order, it is becoming obvious that everyone not only should have, but for the health of all of us must have, some basic safe and healthy lifestyle.  We literally are all in this together.

Friday, March 20, 2020

quarantined man lets drone walk his dog

"One resourceful man in Cyprus used a drone to walk his dog while on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Vakis Demetriou shared the video Wednesday and captioned it '5th day quarantine' while encouraging people to stay home, but also remember to care for their furry friends."

Unless the dog takes off chasing a cat.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Pandemics always come around, and we're always not ready

We spend billions on the military in order to be ready to defends ourselves in case we're attacked, yet not many millions on a known enemy that we know will come sooner or later.  We are crazy.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

electric vehicle with 400 mile range!

"GM’s Ultium batteries will offer battery capacities that range from 50.0 kWh to a massive 200.0 kWh. Although 50.0 kWh is a capacity seen on many electric vehicles today, 200 would be the first of its kind. Rivian, maker of the forthcoming R1T EV pickup and R1S EV SUV, has said that it'll offer a battery with a capacity of up to 180 kWh. Tesla’s biggest battery is 100.0 kWh, available in the Model S and Model X, which is one of the biggest batteries currently available."

And battery prices are coming down too!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The plastic conspiracy

"Since 1950, the world has created 6.3 trillion kilograms of plastic waste — and 91 percent has never been recycled even once, according to a landmark 2017 study published in the journal Science Advances. Unlike aluminum, which can be recycled again and again, plastic degrades in reprocessing, and is almost never recycled more than once. A plastic soda bottle, for example, might get downcycled into a carpet. Modern technology has hardly improved things: Of the 78 billion kilograms of plastic packaging materials produced in 2013, only 14 percent were even collected for recycling, and just two percent were effectively recycled to compete with virgin plastic. “Recycling delays, rather than avoids, final disposal,” the Science authors write. And most plastics persist for centuries."

Baby Boomers ignored the waste their wonderful technologies would produce.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Your internet use damages the environment

"A group of researchers from the European Commission, led by Dr Rabih Bashroush, found that those 4.6 billion streams of Despacito had used as much electricity as the combined annual electricity consumption of Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia, Sierra Leone and the Central African Republic."

I started wondering about this when I heard about the great lengths cloud computing providers go to cool all their equipment.  This is another example where we set up new technologies without worrying what the long-term consequences might be, or what a better alternative might be.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

the future of housing?

The "sleeping pods" would be priced at $1,000 to $1,375 and stacked bunk bed-style, with curtains in lieu of doors for privacy. On the building's ground level and above, 161 studio units, measuring 200-square-feet and with individual bathrooms and kitchens, will be priced between $2,000 and $2,375.

* * *
Expensive living in some places. I've seen photos of tiny apartments in Hong Kong somewhat like this.