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Mitch SMith


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What are our true global economics?

I recently saw an estimate that human population is currently consuming 1.5 times the carrying capacity of the Earth.

This suggests that the resources we use - the plants and animals and energy required to keep us alive are generated by the planet ecology.
It suggests that the system, if left to itself, has a capital represented by sunshine, air, water, plants and animals.

It suggests that the carrying capacity for humans is like the "interest" on the global "capital"
The inference is that we are harvesting more than the interest and are well into the capital - harvesting at an exponential growth rate.
In other words, having eaten everything on the farm, we are now eating the farm. And there will be no more "interest" becasue there will be no more capital.
Like our global bank account is in free-fall.
One dimension of the assertion is that, by mass, the nitrogen in human beings is 1.5 the available nitrogen in the at-rest ecology.

Firstly, is this a valid assertion?
Are Earth resources truly finite as assumed?
Are the available resources measurable? If so - who has a good set of data we can use for modelling?

Secondly, if resources are finite and measured - and we are consuming capital exponentially - what are our options?
What lattitude do we have for increasing carrying capacity?
How far can carrying capacity be pushed?
Can we survive in a no-growth, or contracting economic model?
What are the options for population modification?
How long do we have?

These questions are not formulated to "troll" world views. I am asking questions that a lot of people should have rational answers for.
Please reply in the spirit of the questions. Data would be good, as well as well considered models that can be tested.
Also welcome are weblinks that have rational foundations - no ratbag theory please.


Closing Statement from Mitch SMith


I have digested available metrics and known models.

Like everyone else, I am finding that the non-linear factors render the numbers functionally useless. The modeling methods themselves seem to yield more information - but all models admit to not representing any comprehensive claim.

However, one thing is clear - the window of opportunity for business-as-usual closed sometime mid 1900's, the balance of carrying capacity against draw-down of fossil energy is well under way - capital is definitely being exponentially consumed and has a terminal point at around 2050 - at which point all life on planet earth will cease.

But this assumes business as usual based on what we think we know - as it turns out, we know very little.

So .. in this scenario - ignorance is bliss.

I the analogy of our common understanding, we are screwing the planet and the value it represents. So .. to stay within the things we understand - are we rape/murdering the panet - Or are we mating with it?
This distincion is the critical facto determining if a single human will occupy the universe past 2050.

2050 is a conservative estimate - I would recommend you start answering it now.
It might be too late for you, but you might have children.
If you value hope ..
Remember - hope is not required in the universe outside of your own skull.
What you do is important - to you.
I couldn't care less. _ I've made my choice.

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    Nov 16 2012: Fritzie

    "The typical Everyone, as I think you have mentioned often, Pat, knows essentially nothing about economics. While the antitrust act signed into law in the early 1890s, I think, was meant to protect consumers, over the years more careful scrutiny revealed that some parts, like prohibitions against price-fixing among those who should be competing is typically sensible, but lots of other prohibitions in the law, particularly in Sherman Act section 2, made no economic sense in terms of benefiting consumers."

    My point is none of it did anything to benefit customers. What people don't realize is that when penalties are imposed on a company they simply pass it along to their customers. The robber barons of the time brought lower prices to the customer. I was pointing out to Mitch that the market takes cares of monopolies without the benefit of government meddling. As we saw with Montgomery Wards replaced by Sears replaced by Walmart. Hell even the mighty GM would be gone now if it weren't for government meddling.
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      Nov 16 2012: Are you assuming that new entry immediately undermines the price fixing or that a cartel is immediately unstable because of the benefit to a firm in the short run of violating the agreement? Or another argument entirely?

      Maybe I should just post this article that represents the different arguments economists in the Chicago School tradition have taken on this issue: http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv12n2/reg12n2-debow.html
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        Nov 16 2012: I will read the link when I have time. I'm arguing for the prior in that especially today new entries in the market make any price fixing irrelevant. E.G. Microsoft was sued by the government for antitrust. 10 or so years later Apple is the richest company in the world if Google decides to write an operating system to go along with the 100 plus companies it has acquired not to mention internet advertising who is the monopoly now? This is a moving target whose speed is accelerating, what happens when the company just goes offshore? Like I said Montgomery Wards became Sears became Walmart became... The benefactor really is the consumer.

        Unions are a similar mechanism as long as they are subject to market place they are just fine if they get of control the the companies that use union labor go out of business. But if they are a government union they do not have to answer to the market place as is painfully the case here in Calif. In which case the customer i.e. citizen simply goes to another state. When the union has federal influence then the citizen goes to another country which is what will happen.
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          Nov 16 2012: That was a shame about Microsoft. I was in IT at the time Gates got split .. we were all rooting for MS becuase all our integration costs would just go away - the cost of IT services would halve overnight along with speed-to-market .. Mind you, Gates would become emperor of the world in the bargain .. Being an Asperger's that might not be too bad becuase he had little interest apart from his passion for computers .. but his empire might end up problematic with his successor.
          I think people should realise why we elect governments in democracies: we do it to have something occupying the dominant power-niche that has a modicum of transparency. Difference between democracy and dictatorship? Window dressing ;)
          Now when the electorate gets all righteous about morals and ideals, things get outlawed that should be kept in-house (drugs, prostitution, porn, gambling etc) - those things outside law are incubators for warlords, and the government has to deal with them secretly - thus comprimising the government.
          All large organisations suffer from this - at a certain point, the individuals personal agendas out-weigh the interests of the organisation and the thing starts to fragment. I would bet my left nut that the limit of stability os 200 persons per organisation - becuase that is the limit of our autobiographical capacity for effective social tracking - limited by the size of our brains.
          Based on that, I am looking forward to the crash - I probably won't survive it, but hey-ho, I've had a brilliant life - our kids will do better.
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          Nov 16 2012: I think you will be interested in the link when you have time You probably know the Cato Institute is a conservative think tank.
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        Nov 16 2012: Ok I read it the author is saying that the new critics are not cogent in arguing that antitrust laws are bad for the free market.

        I stick with what I have already said. The main area that I disagree with is that government intervention creates unintended consequences usually consequences that are 180 degrees of the stated purpose.

        As I said before with the speed of change in the market place further makes the laws superfluous.

        This is a video arguing antitrust the way I see it.

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          Nov 16 2012: I haven't yet had a chance to listen to your Ron Paul youtube, but I did the chirping cricket. Am I missing a message in that cricket?
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        Nov 17 2012: I thought we were actually going to have a real conversation about economics with the serious link and all. I thought maybe you were up to going a couple of rounds with the champ? but alas it was just threatening noises, I seem to recall you stating that you take a certain amount of joy in taking the loud mouth student down a notch... Cricket sounds were to point out the conspicuousness of your reticence...

        I respect all teachers if they are like you and really can teach. My disposition on economics is one of frustration in the ignorance of the subject by most. Not that I'm an expert, but most people are completely illiterate on the subject. And at this point we are circling the drain at an every increasing speed, to within 10yr the question I have is going to be Mad Max or a dystopian 1984.
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          Nov 17 2012: I meant no threatening noises, do not see you as a loud mouth student, and don't try to take students down a notch. I only like to see people (including students) consider views other than the one they most naturally hold. And I appreciate those willing to consider other reasonable and reasoned views.

          I have not had time to listen to your video and will not until tomorrow. I think perhaps you might be retired, but I am not, so work obligations intervene sometimes.

          Without the chance yet to see your video, I think I see two issues that drive the difference, perhaps, between your view and mine or for that matter between the two chicago-type views articulated in the link.

          One is whether one believes that price fixing arrangements are challenged fast enough given market dynamics to prevent great consumer losses in the interval. Doug Ginsburg and the Reagan justice department said not necessarily to this (in the sense of needing to be considered industry by industry) and you say yes, always.

          The second issue is whether the costs of the whole legal apparatus, both the direct costs and the costs in terms of inhibiting potentially positive economic behaviors by firms exceed the losses during the interval before market forces undermine price fixing.

          By the way, I don't see any of this as "going rounds." People I respect hold both views. Neither view reflects ignorance of economics.
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          Nov 18 2012: Yeah Pat, we need a great big bunch of honesty in this world.

          What's wrong with anger? Why has respect fo it vanished in clouds of "freedom of speech"? When all that gets said is vacuous noise?

          Why has everyone forgotten - That the "collective" is arranged around real humans not the other way around?

          you have done a lot of work in the realm of finance, the closest I got was inventory accounting. But I did notice the psychopathy taking over everything .. not just corporations, but everything.

          It seems that to live in this world, a human cannot be a human. I resent that. And I resent all those who run round pretending to be virtuous machines. And you have seen me - i get my chin way out there and see who can punch my lights out.
          And I don't just do it here - I go up to any self-proclained expert, and test if they know more than me .. and guess what - none so far.
          I hate all this - because I know we can do better, but .. right now, I give up.
          All this stuff is just egos getting hits. I just spent a few hours with one of the leading "new age conspiracy theorists" and guess what I found? An empty gassbag (Tsarion) all aliens and schizophrenia that does not know life if it jumped up and bit their A**s - as good as Ayn Rand apologising for her paedophile father. Life-long inhabitants of foolish institutions with their hands out for politically-correct strokes - better than money for a failed human.
          I'm outa here - it was fun for a while, but there's more important stuff to be getting on with.
          I don't like money, I don't like law, i don't like all the pretentious rubbish that passes for "knowledge".
          My advice, if anyone gives a damn is to just walk away - find your life, live it and forget about all the gass - better still, 300 million fat yanks on treadmills with pipes up their bums - and we solve the energy crisis. Not for the energy, but to just get them out of our faces.

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