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LQD - Water rights in California and Australia

by Zwackus Sat Mar 29th, 2014 at 01:47:14 AM EST

An interesting Op-Ed in the LA Times argued for comprehensive water-rights reform, based on the Australian model.  It seemed like something the good readers here at ET would find interesting.

The Water Revolution California Needs

This year's drought has thrown California into a sudden tizzy, a crisis of snowpack measurements, fish-versus-people arguments and controversial cuts in water deliveries. But in reality, crisis is the permanent state of water affairs in the Golden State -- by design, because our institutions keep it that way.

-snip-

Even with the gargantuan re-engineering of nature, there is never enough water. How could there be, when according to the calculations of fishing and environmental advocates, the state has granted more than five times as many water rights claims as there is water in our main rivers, even in a good year? When our Gold Rush-era laws all but compel water-rights holders to use as much water as they can, as fast as possible, lest they lose their entitlements?

-snip-

Instead, California ought to learn from the experience of Australia, the driest continent on Earth, with a broadly similar economy, climate and, until recently, a similarly balkanized and economically irrational water management system. Faced with a 12-year-long drought, which brought fatal brush fires to its cities and devastation to its agricultural communities, Australia's state and federal governments agreed in 2007 to manage their water "in the national interest rather than on jurisdictional or sectoral based views," in the words of the federal environment minister.

-snip-

So far, Australia's new water market has performed as economists predicted: Even in the worst year of the drought, with delivery cuts of two-thirds, the value of agricultural production remained 70% of normal, according to Mike Young, professor at the University of Adelaide. Initially, water prices soared, but they have since fallen back as farmers and urban users have learned to do more with less. Australia's cities, already relatively frugal, cut their use by 35% to 50%. Fear of hoarding by outside investors and market manipulation proved overblown, but California ought to take these potential pitfalls into account in designing its own water markets.

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LQD - New Blood for the Fed

by Zwackus Fri Jan 10th, 2014 at 09:18:28 PM EST

Obama to nominate Stanley Fischer, 2 others to Fed seats.

WASHINGTON -- President Obama will nominate Stanley Fischer, the former head of the Bank of Israel, to be vice chair of the Federal Reserve, and also tapped two other people for seats on the central bank's Board of Governors, the White House said Friday.

Lael Brainard, who recently stepped down as Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, was chosen to fill one of the vacant seats on the seven-member Fed board.

And Jerome H. Powell, a former Treasury official and investment banker who has served on the Fed board since 2012, will be renominated. Powell was confirmed to an unexpired term that expires on Jan. 31.

Thoughts?

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Class War

by Zwackus Thu Aug 22nd, 2013 at 09:25:27 AM EST

A familiar idea here on ET is that the 1% crowd is pushing for the creation of a neo-feudal order, waging a class war of the very richest versus everyone else in which they progressively destroy every ounce of economic and social security and independence held by those outside their circle, and neuter the ability of the state to step in and protect individuals from economic exploitation.  This is simply the end result of a push to maximize relative status.

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Utopian Ideas - Digital Infrastructure

by Zwackus Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 05:03:18 AM EST

Here on ET, it's generally acknowledged that infrastructure is something that is best done by the government, and preferably during recessions via deficit spending.  Infrastructure is commonly thought of as things that provide for the public good, and that are most useful when provided to all.

Lots of things count as infrastructure.  Roads and bridges are the obvious examples, but power generation and distribution, mail and package delivery, rail and air transport, phone and data networks, medical services, security and disaster relief, and a whole variety of other things could also be considered infrastructure.

How about software?

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Austrians finally discover hyperinflation - in Diablo III

by Zwackus Mon May 27th, 2013 at 11:53:52 PM EST

I ran across an interesting link at one of my favorite gaming review and discussion sites, Rock Paper Shotgun, that I thought the community at Eurotrib might find amusing.

Peter C. Earle, a scholar <cough> at the Von Mieses institute, has found what hard-money Austrians have always feared was just around the corner - hyperinflation.  Unfortunately, for them at any rate, its not in a real world economy, but in a video game's virtual economy, Diablo 3.  A Virtual Weimar

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LQD - 32 Trillion in Offshore Tax Havens?

by Zwackus Thu Apr 4th, 2013 at 04:52:52 AM EST

This is interesting.

Leaks reveal secrets of the rich who hide cash offshore

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MMT, full employment, and the limits of power

by Zwackus Wed Nov 28th, 2012 at 04:34:36 AM EST

In my previous diary, Once more into the fray, taxes, deficits, and MMT, an interesting discussion developed on the social and economic limits to the ability of the government to create full employment.  That is a really interesting topic which was only partly addressed in the discussion, and I'd like to invite the ET community to return to that topic for a more focused examination of the topic.

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Once more into the fray - taxes, deficits, and MMT

by Zwackus Mon Nov 12th, 2012 at 03:57:24 AM EST

I posted a diary a while ago on my understanding of what exactly taxes, deficits, and the national debt are, and it provoked a wonderful discussion.  I've been busy lately, and there was an election or something recently, so I never returned to the topic as I'd planned.

But a couple of days ago, I got a burst of inspiration, and wrote a long diary on the topic on Kos,  Why deficits don't matter

Thinking about it, I should have posted this here first, to get expert commentary and criticism before preaching to the unwashed masses.  Nonetheless, the reception was reasonable.  So take a look and let me know what you think.

As should be clear from the start, I was going for persuasive and readable over detailed and wonky, and got a bit over the top towards the end.  Next time.

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A Journey to the West . . . China! With Photos

by Zwackus Sat Aug 11th, 2012 at 11:45:37 PM EST

I just got back from an 11 day tour of central China.  I started off in Hangzhou, continued to Suzhou, then flew inland to Zhangjiajie, drove up to Fenghuang, and finally flew to Chengdu and did sightseeing in the nearby area.  Here are some observations I made during the trip that I thought the readers of ET might find interesting.

I apologize ahead of time that there are no photos.  I don't have pictures of many of the things I discuss in this diary.  Also, I have yet to figure out how to put pictures into ET diaries. [update] See photos in my Flickr gallery here

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LQD - Economists Agree ... that Republicans are crazy?

by Zwackus Wed Jul 25th, 2012 at 06:26:55 AM EST

This was linked on the front page of Daily Kos, and I thought it might be of particular interest over here - especially since I haven't seen a LQD in a while.

The US Economic Policy Debate is a Sham

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Japan's new Feed-in Tariff

by Zwackus Tue Jun 26th, 2012 at 05:27:16 AM EST

Courtesy of Sustainable Business News, hat tip to Daily Kos diarist Lawrence's diary, Japan about to experience Huge Renewable Energy Boom!

This weekend, Japan approved re-starting two nuclear reactors despite mass public opposition at the same time as announcing pricing for the country's landmark renewable energy feed-in tariff (FiT).

Solar stocks rallied on the premium price that will be paid for solar, which many think will boost Japan to the world's largest solar market.

The FiT could spur at least $9.6 billion in new solar installations with 3.2 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, around the output of three nuclear plants, forecasts Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Japan's FiT will no doubt shore up the world's solar manufacturing industry, but Japanese business groups worry it will raise utility bills and slow economic recovery.

The FiT requires utilities to pay $0.53 cents per kilowatt-hour for 20 years for solar, triple that of China's and almost double that of Germany.

Greenwashing, better than nothing, or a real step in the right direction?

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Socratic Economics XII: Utopian Government Finance

by Zwackus Fri May 25th, 2012 at 04:29:20 AM EST

Reading here on ET has given me a few ideas as to how government finance and the money supply work.  I'm curious to see what people think, and to have my thinking corrected by the infinite font of wisdom that is ET.

  1. Money is created by government spending and bank lending.
  2. Money is destroyed by taxation.
  3. The purpose of taxation is not to fund government, but to manage the money supply, and to penalize or support certain activities in the economy.
  4. There is no special connection between government spending and inflation - government spending is an inflation driver only in the circumstances in which the same spending by private entities would be inflationary.
  5. Maintaining a connection between government spending and taxation is completely pointless.

If these are reasonably correct, then what exactly are the outer boundaries for a workable system of government finance?

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Media Reform Ideas

by Zwackus Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 11:02:21 PM EST

Every so often I get big, utopian ideas that are probably totally unworkable and undesirable, but nonetheless interesting to think about.  ET is a great place for reasoned and rational discussion of policy ideas, and there hasn't been much talk along these lines outside of finance and energy of late.  So, here are some big ideas to think about.  Tear me to pieces, and in the process let's have an interesting discussion.

Up for discussion today is an old idea, the abolition of advertising, and a new one, the radical dissolution of media conglomerates.

When possible, I'd like to ask people to think about, "is this a good idea?" and "would this work as intended?", rather than "The powers that be would never allow this."  I'm fully aware of the utterly impossible nature of ridiculous Utopian ideas - but I do find it fun to think about them.

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Corporate Governance Reform - Ideas

by Zwackus Sun Nov 13th, 2011 at 09:47:02 PM EST

ET is excellent at deconstructing events in politics and economics, and at picking apart the dominant narratives that are destroying Western society.  Further, there has been a fair bit of discussion regarding alternative solutions (TINA) to the European financial crisis.

However, I've not seen so much in the way of real discussion of larger reforms that would help fix the mess we're in.  I'm not talking about utopian social reforms so much as legislative-type proposals that could use existing institutions and frameworks to solve various social problems.  Obviously, anything effective would be anathema to the powers that be, but it doesn't hurt to think about and discuss these sorts of things.

So here's an idea for people to mull over - Corporate Governance Reform.

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Western Intervention in Libya - a consideration

by Zwackus Thu Aug 25th, 2011 at 09:52:41 AM EST

In the comments of a recent Salon on an article about Libya and its future, I was called to task for being pro-intervention.

I don't think of myself as a rampant militarist, nor as an all-weather defender of "humanitarian" military intervention.  But I suppose I am a bit more supportive of the West's actions in Libya than some here.  I started to write a response on the issue, but it quickly became diary-length.  So here's the diary.

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Liberal Interventionism, Human Rights, and Political Philosophy

by Zwackus Tue Apr 5th, 2011 at 05:46:41 AM EST

A few days ago Frank Schnittger posted a very interesting diary on Samantha Power, the Monster, and the Libyan Intervention, inviting a discussion on what I think are fundamental questions and problems in liberal thought and political philosophy in the context of the Libyan Intervention.  Later in that diary, ceebs posted another quite interesting discussion of the origins and evolution of the idea of military humanitarian interventionism from the Adam Curtis Blog, Goodies and Baddies.

However, the diary got hijacked by a discussion of DPU ammunition without really addressing the matters initially presented for discussion.  So, round 2!

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PNAC and the Bush Legacy - Pathetic Failure?

by Zwackus Tue Sep 14th, 2010 at 02:01:58 AM EST

In a several day old Salon thread, on a thread about the legacy of Bush, Cheney, and the Project for a New American Century, I wrote this.

On another point, could you even say they got lucky?  Sure, they got their "transformative event," and the wars they wanted - which proved what a complete bunch of idiots they were.  The wars have been disastrous failures for everyone except defense contractors, and the people who argued for them are generally agreed to have been either dramatically misguided or idiots.  Their big master plan was shown to be little more than fanboy drooling, as America teeters on the bring of complete collapse.

This prompted a response from generic . . .

But in a lot of ways they succeeded. Constitutional rights are almost gone and a lot of their policies are now locked in.
Unemployment may be disastrously high, but absent a social movement that threatens the hierarchy of property in a big way that will probably only lead to more recruits for the army. The Federal deficit is quite a lot bigger than it would have been, but it is also not all that important. The army may be overstretched, but it also isn't needed to make defiance of US dictates incredible costly.
The point I am trying to make is as follows: The Neocons may have through their actions made most everyone worse off, but I doubt that they brought the US empire much closer to collapse.

It seems like something worth discussing.

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Is there a point to saving money?

by Zwackus Wed Dec 30th, 2009 at 02:27:23 AM EST

This is not a terribly substantive diary, nor one which presents new information or arguments.  However, it may be a place for substantive discussion, as the question posed in the title may perhaps be a gateway to a further discussion of one of ET's favorite topics . . . DOOM!!!!

So here it is - is there any point, given where the world economy and the whole of Western Civilization are headed, in saving money?

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Insanity in Japan

by Zwackus Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 05:35:00 PM EST

I had a bizarre encounter yesterday.

I was scurrying around after work, getting stuff ready for a department barbecue we're having after school today.  I had shopping to do, but I wanted to price things at several stores before I shopped, but I had something being delivered at 6:00, but I needed to eat because I knew I'd be likely pinned down until the delivery person arrives, possible not until 8:00. Hustle, bustle, scurry scurry scurry.

Continued after the fold

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It's just not worth it anymore

by Zwackus Wed Apr 15th, 2009 at 06:47:34 AM EST

The results of a recent study show what some of us may have intuitively felt for some time now.

Cost of Living Now Outweighs Benefits - America's Finest News Source

ET's always been strong on Doom, but it seems like the gloom side is still alive and kicking.

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