Sunday, October 13, 2019

Do we still need to keep ramping up product production, or isn't there a more up to date economic strategy?

Trickle down economics keeps getting discredited, but somehow it persists. It gained lots of traction during my college years when inflation was rampant. Prices were going up for lots of commodities and products such as gasoline. There was some attempt to have price controls, but that often led to shortages. There were the gas lines of the 1970's. Some economists thought, if you help the producers, give them tax breaks and so forth, there would be more supply and lower prices.

Thus what I think Supply Side Economics is about? Question mark here as, admittedly, trying to read up on that subject causes my eyes to gloss over.

We face a very different situation now. Here in the US, we are awash in cheap products. There is usually lots of supply. There isn't the "Energy crisis" like in the 1970's. We've basically fracked (oil fracking) our way out of that. Today's problems are a bit different. It's been getting harder to afford a place on this planet that one can call home. Ramping up factory production, or oil drilling, isn't going to create more place for people on this planet. Better planning might, however. Density, transit and so forth; in the places where the jobs are and the people want to live.

We also have the cost problems associated with income discrepancy. Large segments of the population that can't afford the services provided by high income professionals such as medical services and insurance services. Education is effected by this also; for instance the high cost of college administrators. Giving more money to the wealthy isn't going to help here.

In my college years, I heard it said that giving money to consumers would just increase demand and push prices up farther, or lead to shortages. That thinking might work for gasoline, but not necessarily for all parts of the economy.

Today, I hear economists, such as Paul Krugman, talk about the need to stimulate demand for things we need; like building green infrastructure.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

As Greta Thunberg shamed them, they cheered even though many got to the UN by jet. Surrealistic.

It was surrealistic when young climate activist Greta Thunberg gave her speech before the UN. She was shaming the people as in how dare you. Shame on you and they cheered. Many in that audience arrived by jet plane.

There is kind of a disconnect between what people say has to happen and the lives of most folks being business as usual. This disconnect contributes to climate anxiety.

Making the needed changes is possible, but challenging. Here are some of the challenges.

Reducing the carbon footprint as world population continues to grow. Expected to level off at around 10 billion people; 3 billion more than currently alive. More people needing places to live, jobs and so forth.

Much of the Third World has been, and still is rapidly rising out of poverty. Good news in many ways, but challenging when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint. More people driving cars and so forth.

Countries, such as Japan have shut down nuclear power plants which has led to an uptick in power coming from fossil fuels. It may be even harder to reduce dependency on fossil fuels if we decommission nuclear energy at the same time. Nuclear is a large source of non intermittent power. Solar and wind energy is best, but these are intermittent sources; meaning they only work when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. The technology of battery and power grid distribution still needs improvement.

Significant reduction in the carbon footprint is doable, but it will require many changes in the way business and governments work, also changes in people's lifestyles, expectations and voting patterns. We also may have to rely on things like carbon sequestration and even geoengineering; meaning artificially reflecting some sunlight away from Earth.

How quickly we have to make big changes is up to debate, I think. According to Greta, pretty much right away; like in the next decade. That's anxiety producing, in itself. As for what the scientists say, that's a bit less clear. We do have a problem, but how quickly we have to solve it doesn't seem like the slam dunk; so to speak.