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Forum Post: Electricity should be free

Posted 2 years ago on April 17, 2012, 2:29 a.m. EST by francismjenkins (3713)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Okay, so we probably need new technology (like thorium) to accomplish this, but electricity (like healthcare, food, water, and education) is a basic human need at this point.

108 Comments

108 Comments


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[-] 2 points by Zombiefighter (-16) from Ione, CA 2 years ago

Nothing is free. Nothing. Who is going to pay for this electricity that you deem a "need". I know more than a few people that live without it.

[-] 1 points by luparb (290) 2 years ago

Nothing is free. Nothing

everything is free, actually.

Nature is free. The water, the trees, the metals, the minerals, your body - it was all free. Nobody paid anything for it.

Then some people (aristocrats, capitalists, imperialists) came along and claimed exclusive rights to nature and made everyone pay for their own existence.

[-] 1 points by Frizzle (520) 2 years ago

That's ofcourse not true. A lot of things are free. The most important thing you need, the air you breath is free. The sun (which is the source of all our power) is free. You got free food and care when you were born most likely untill well within your teens.

In fact in nature, everything is for free. There is no such thing as money in the real world.

[-] 2 points by Builder (4202) 2 years ago

The energy itself is free. It is all around us.

The installation of the technology to capture this free energy will be a one-off cost for home-buyers.

See this link for details. It's here already.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXFrF_3l2W4&feature=BFa&list=PL210363D8A2772090&lf=results_main

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Great ideas, but I didn't hear anything about generating power (although I suppose with some of this technology, things like solar become more viable).

[-] 2 points by Builder (4202) 2 years ago

There is no "generation" of power with passive solar.

The film they are describing in that video is simply a power card. It doesn't need anything other than light to produce a current.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

That would be super fantastic (and probably much cheaper than building a bunch of thorium reactors).

[-] 0 points by Reneye (118) 2 years ago

What a fantastic video! This and other information is becoming more and more mainstream. Once enough people start to understand how much technology has been withheld from us, there will be no stopping the demand from the masses, and the anger at the .01% for keeping us as slaves to energy to line their pockets.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I'm not sure to what extent this sort of technology has been withheld from us, these are the sort of things PhD students and their professors in the sciences (some variation of chemistry and physics) are working on (and these people generate a new idea per minute). The main problem, as I see it, is we're not a very science oriented culture.

I mean, most people would rather watch snooki than Nova (and so I think we need look no further than our own culture when we wonder why people don't know about these things).

Obviously, if we had a more participatory democracy, valuable information would be disseminated in a much more effective way. In a sense, everyone would be a reporter. Ideally, we would have physicists at general assembly meetings. People would spend time discussing what they learned at last nights general assembly meeting in the break room at work, instead of snooki (or at least discuss snooki less, and ideally, eventually figure out how retarded that bullshit is, but I digress) :)

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

We used to be a very science oriented society. The 60's were the last years that enjoyed this privilege. Once the NASA moon missions were over, NASA had their funding cut dramatically..... so did many science funding outlets of government like the NSA. Without funding for basic research we are losing our lead in high tech. It's a tragedy.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Indeed, which raises the question, even if space exploration won't produce anything scientifically remarkable (and it probably can't, given the limitations of current space travel technology, which could probably only get us to Mars, speaking of "manned" space flight), would the inspiration it provides make it worth the money? I suppose if our government could actually come with something that would provide tangible benefits, like a serious energy development program, it might have the same effects?

[-] 0 points by Zombiefighter (-16) from Ione, CA 2 years ago

The space program has produced so many scientifically remarkable things( medicine, metallurgy) and you are aware of none of themZ.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I'm not sure how or why you would just assume that I'm not aware of what our space program generated. I can name many of those discoveries off the top of my head. Satellites (indispensable in today's world), microwave ovens (and microwave technology in general, also important in communications), and the list goes on and on. My point was that we really don't need to send men to Mars to discover what's on Mars (we have much more sophisticated tools compared to the 1960's, where this can be done with unmanned space missions, robotics, satellites, etc.).

So it's less likely we'll produce major breakthroughs by caveat of something like a manned space mission to Mars. NASA recently sent up a satellite that will actually travel some distance "inside" the sun (before it's ultimately destroyed by the sun). This is far more important from a purely scientific perspective than a manned mission to Mars.

If we were to do a mission to Mars, it would mostly be a public relations thing. I mean, we already know we can do it (the science is already established), we probably won't gain anything in terms of new technology that we won't otherwise gain through other, more efficient means of space exploration (like many of the things we're doing now). However, if it made more people interested in science, it might be justifiable (but that's a big "maybe").

[-] 2 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

Resources... precious metals, rare earths, metals for structural material. That is what Mars and the asteroids promise. Their is no better way to assay what is there then with boots on the ground, as a geologist I can attest to this, remote sensing takes you only so far, robotics have limitations as well.

"So it's less likely we'll produce major breakthroughs by caveat of something like a manned space mission to Mars."

Based on what? New propulsion systems, life support requirements, energy generation systems will be required. These things normally aren't required for robotic missions, but for human missions they are, and that's what will drive tech innovation.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Good points ... although I have serious questions about the idea of mining minerals on other planets. Imagine how expensive that would be? Moreover, we don't need to set as a goal a Mars mission to do this sort of research (although maybe it would give science a kick in the pants, and inspire them to reach beyond where they would otherwise go ... I'm not sure, but it is speculative).

You're basing this, I think, on the fact that it generated immense benefits in the past, so therefore it should be able to repeat that performance. But that's not necessarily valid, or at least it's not something that can be accepted as a foregone conclusion.

[-] 2 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

'You're basing this, I think, on the fact that it generated immense benefits in the past, so therefore it should be able to repeat that performance. But that's not necessarily valid, or at least it's not something that can be accepted as a foregone conclusion.'

By the same logic, your premise that we are less likely to produce major breakthroughs falls into the same category.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Indeed, and I'm not claiming to have a crystal ball. I'm simply playing devils advocate here. I don't think your assumptions can be taken for granted, but I acknowledge that my apprehension could be misplaced. I also think that we tend to "overthink" when it comes to big ideas (so there's some merit, occasionally, in just rolling the dice and giving it a try).

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

One thing for sure.... If you do nothing you will never advance.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

You're preaching to the choir on that one ... I'm already a lawyer, and masochistic enough to be pursuing a grad degree in molecular bio (so I say, try until we die) :)

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

With you on that one 100%

[-] 0 points by Zombiefighter (-16) from Ione, CA 2 years ago

Yeah, your right. Let's just give NASAS budget to welfare queens and Israel. Let's have to beg Russia for rides into space. Face it. You left wing assholes are gutting NASA hope you are happy. Assholes.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Wow, a red neck NASA supporter. I'd think you guys would want the money to buy more snakes for church, or maybe to brighten up the swamp :)

[-] 0 points by Zombiefighter (-16) from Ione, CA 2 years ago

Yep. Following your talking points. Your masters will be proud of you.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Ooooo ... that was a swift one sharpy (even a word with more than two syllables, I'm impressed) :)

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I keep hearing conservatives talk about fiscal reality, as if we're not all aware of fiscal reality (remember, the modern era of massive deficits traces back to Reagan, under Clinton we briefly had a balanced budget, then Bush put us back on a trajectory of massive debt). Republicans pretend as if social security and Medicare are our big problems, when in fact those programs are self-funding (and indeed, we've been taking surplus revenue generated by those programs and using it as general revenue). I guess it goes back to the old republican strategy. Make it look as if the other guy is guilty of your own malfeasance. Really disturbing, is how well this strategy has worked?

[-] 1 points by blackpanther6389 (39) from Peoria, IL 2 years ago

Electricity should most definitely be free. Gotta work on that green infrastructure first so people don't have to transport coal and whatnot, but then poses the issue of maintenance, which I would gladly do no charge =).

[-] 1 points by cbernard7 (16) from Coral Springs, FL 2 years ago

http://www.ted.com/talks/donald_sadoway_the_missing_link_to_renewable_energy.html

hopefully a time will come for when we can implement things like what this speaker talks about and the demand for electricity can subside much more because the supply has risen up.

[-] 1 points by zoom6000 (430) from St Petersburg, FL 2 years ago

We need to Nationalize oil compnies,electric compnies,universities health and so on,.,,,,Why not we pay taxes

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 2 years ago

food and water should be rationed

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Yes, I think we should start by rationing food available to conservatives (since they seem to have fatter asses than the rest of the population). Until I was stationed in Texas for a year, I used to think 200 lbs. was fat. Boy was I surprised to see how grotesquely fat a human body can become. No wonder why they need trucks, they just can't fit in a car :)

[-] 0 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

Rationing food to conservatives because they are fatter... Where does this even come from?

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

A joke obviously (but seriously, we need to something about obesity) :)

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

I'm good with throwing out a joke to lighten things up every now and then... :-)

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

Oh, gosh. I don't know the CDC?

As States have become conse(R)vative they get fatter.

The (R)epelican't elephant syndrome?

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

I didn't see a correlation between weight and political affiliation in the CDC study...but that's ok. There are so many directions to take this...

Here's some more pointless research: http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/89/6/2590.full - 2004 Blacks and hispanics have a disproportionate rise in rates of obesity over whites. Blacks and hispanics vote largely democratic. Therefore we should start seeing some changes in our obesity maps! Exciting!

Besides, wouldn't it just be more equitable to ration food to people based on their weight, regardless of political affiliation? They should just put scales in the lines at the grocery store, and then cap your purchase based on how much you weigh. OOoooh.. Or they could ring you up for your entire purchase, but take part of your groceries and give them to skinny people. Of course, we would have to require the skinny people to eat the food or it would go to waste. I'm seeing a win-win here!

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

Pretty good change the subject.

If you're serious, the cutting edge research is now looking into our biota as a possible cause.

Then I just found this.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417221952.htm

[-] 1 points by Craiggiedangit (99) 2 years ago

Thorium is an element, not a new technology.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I understand that ... actually, even thorium reactors aren't new technology (per se). The US successfully developed a thorium reactor prototype in the 1960's (we just went with uranium reactors because of the synergy with our nuclear weapons program). In retrospect, thorium would have clearly been the better choice (but, in fairness, scientists had much more to consider than merely energy production, the nuclear arms race was in full swing).

[-] 1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 2 years ago

Check out Tesla. There is no reason why we are not all driving on electric cars, and only paying around $10 a month for that and our house.

Its rigged bullshit.

[-] 1 points by penguento (362) 2 years ago

Well, why don't you build yourself a Tesla coil and avail yourself of al of that nearly-free electricity? There's no secret to doing so -- all of the engineering drawings are available. There's a lot of talk on this forum about having free things, but I don't see anybody going out and creating them, and there's absolutely nothing stopping them from doing so.

[-] 2 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 2 years ago

I'm not a "Free things" guy, just saying that our current costs are insane. In Tampa, the electric company is going to start taxing everyone on a nuke plant that they may or may not build. Thats pretty messed up, if you ask me. I certainly couldnt treat my customers like that, but they have the monopoly, so they can. Unless the people smarten up. And I dont see that happening anytime soon either...

[-] 1 points by gnomunny (6614) from St Louis, MO 2 years ago

Exactly. Which is why the feds swooped in immediately after Tesla died and confiscated almost all his papers.

[-] 2 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 2 years ago

What a shame. Even more of a shame is how content people are to pay through the nose for this stuff.

[-] 1 points by gnomunny (6614) from St Louis, MO 2 years ago

Quite true. I know most of it would probably be over my head, but I'd still love to see that pile of documents. Anytime I think about Tesla, it invariably leads to me thinking about what Edison, poster boy for the 1%'ers, did to him. That pisses me off a little.

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 2 years ago

Sorry it cant we all wish but it not possible for it to be free. With fusion reactors it will come close but it takes billions to make these plants. Along with finding thorium in the earth.

I have a nice discussion if you want to talk about it i know all the ends and out of that industry

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Nothing can truly be "free" ... so in a sense I agree with you, but the question is, who pays and how do we pay? Imagine the advantage we would have if our manufacturers didn't have to pay for electricity? Sure, someone would have to pay for it (e.g. tax dollars would have to sustain electrical production), and I admit, this is a very technical subject (that requires examining a panoply of different factors).

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

"I admit, this is a very technical subject (that requires examining a panoply of different factors)."

LIke the Jevons paradox?

For those that don't know: The Jevons paradox is the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used, tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource. In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal-use led to the increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to common intuition, technological improvements could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Right, but this assumes that electricity is a bad thing, when the only real problem is how we produce electricity. I fully admit, I love electricity. It keeps me cool in the summer, warm in the winter, keeps my food from perishing, my water clean, if I get sick and have to go to a hospital, it keeps all those nice medical instruments operating, it's powering my computer right now, the light in my office, my television, the alarm clock that will wake me up tomorrow (hopefully), etc.

If we were producing electricity in sustainable ways (whether it be new materials science, thorium, solar, wind, etc.) electricity would be the least of our problems. We might wonder, can we produce steel, components that require metals, plastics, etc., ad infinitum (and the answer is obviously no, since all of those things are produced using finite resources).

But frankly, even those issues are surmountable. Plastics can be produced with alcohols (like butanol), which can be produced in sustainable ways, we don't necessarily need metals, there's nanomaterials that are far more conductive (made from simple carbon), we have materials that can easily replace steel, etc. So I really don't buy the idea that we have to reverse our commitment to technology. Aside from the fact that it's not gonna happen (as far as unrealistic goals go, that's pretty high up on the unattainable list), we're just too dug into technology (so I think the best thing we could do is innovate our way out of this mess, Mr. Jevons notwithstanding).

So while I agree with Jevons (and in fact I don't even think that his theory is counter-intuitive, it's perfectly intuitive in my view, if we can do or produce something more efficiently, more abundantly, and for less cost, assuming that thing is desirable, obviously we'll use more of it), the relationship between electricity and "fuel consumption" (as in fossil fuels) is not a law of nature.

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

I don't think the assumption is that electricity is bad in the Jenkins example. I see him saying that if the production of electricity becomes very efficient, like through thorium reactors, then thorium reactors are going to be popping up everywhere quickly as demand (consumption) will drastically increase... this will cause side effects that may not have been thought of, such as a large volume of nuclear waste being generated from such an increase in consumption.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

There's really no nuclear waste from thorium (or I should say, it has a very short half life, so for all intents and purposes, the "waste" problem is eliminated). Ideally, new materials science (e.g. nanomaterials) will ultimately predominate (and eliminate the need for power plants altogether). How quickly can this technology move from the laboratory to the general public is another question (beyond my ability to answer at the moment, but I'm pretty sure we don't even know how to mass produce this stuff at this point, and if we're talking 50 years in the future, or longer, then I think it behooves us to produce electricity in ways that does not kill our atmosphere, because I don't think our atmosphere can withstand another 50 years of pollution at current rates).

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

The nuclear waste elimination scenario is an oversimplification. The core is highly radioactive, all the piping, valves, and containment bldg, long term radioactive. Multiply that by many cores, pipes, valves, etc as the new power plants are put in en masse, and you now have a waste problem that will mature at roughly the same time, when the reactors have outlived their life cycle.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I mean, thorium waste becomes safe after 200 years, versus about 10,000 years for uranium waste (so I would say hand waving this as "long term" waste, without detailing the enormous differences between uranium and thorium, is an oversimplification). I've seen the projections on this, waste could be stored on site (without any need for off site disposal). Plus, there's the added benefit of no appreciable proliferation risk, no melt down risk, etc. Not to mention the fact that even our current nuclear power industry is extremely safe. Tens of thousands of people die each year from respiratory illnesses associated with coal fired electric plants, while the number of deaths caused by nuclear plants each year in the US, is exactly zero. I'm not endorsing uranium plants (thorium is a far better solution), but these numbers cannot be ignored. There seems to be somewhat of a disconnect between popular perceptions of this technology, and the scientific facts.

I understand some people and groups would like to send us back to primitivity, but that's patently absurd. So when I hear a group oppose any idea (not matter how meritorious); that's when I begin writing them off. Opposing everything is not a serious solution to anything, it's just an unproductive distraction (and I have to wonder, what are the real motives of these people)? By opposing all new ideas, they simply reinforce the status quo.

[-] 1 points by geo (2638) from Concord, NC 2 years ago

No argument about fossil fuels being evil. I'm just saying that we have to look at whatever new tech comes along critically.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Yes, I agree, but we can't overthink ourselves into paralysis either. We already know what the consequences of doing nothing will be (or we at least have a very good idea, sea levels will rise, coastal areas will be submerged in sea water, the temperatures our species evolved in will change, and overall, it's a very bad outlook).

Solar and wind, unfortunately, could "at best" serve 10 or 15% of our energy needs (but we would have to reconfigure our entire grid, these power sources are intermittent, so they can't serve as base power, etc.). It's not really technically viable (at least not as a serious replacement for fossil fuels).

Put it this way, the status quo loves the fact that we're bogging ourselves down imagining every conceivable risk, and scaring ourselves out of doing anything. As long we do that ... they keep making money, and continue burning up our planet unabated.

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 2 years ago

it would be amazing if manufactures didn't have to pay. I know we would love that since we use a small city in processing.

If we taxed it out of people it would be the same as paying the bill just in a different way. We must pay for the energy we use as a constant reminder that we are not green and energy independent. In a way it keeps us connected.

I will tell you that our grid is what needs to be redone not the plants. we lose a lot and i mean a lot of energy in power lines. If this was redone power cost would be cheaper since they wouldn't have to produce as much. This is a touchy subject just because from the amount of factors that go into it.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

We probably need to upgrade our plants (using more appropriate technology, considering the undesirability of CO2 emissions) AND certainly upgrade our grid (although, we always lose a certain amount of electricity when we transport it long distances, it's simple physics, well, maybe not that simple, at least not when I studied physics :)).

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 2 years ago

no your right we will lose power overtime but we can try to control how much we lose

[-] 1 points by jph (2652) 2 years ago

There is no 'free energy' device. This is a pipe dream of the 'lets keep the massive over consumption going' mentality. We do not need any science fiction or un-invented technology to provide a good life to all, we only need the will to end the rule of the 1%.

The solutions are all here and now; Permaculture, Degrowth, Relocalize, SlowMoney,. .

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Even if we do all these things, we'll still need electricity. Also, how do we "relocalize" the suburbs? I think a variety of different solutions will be necessary, no one size fits all solution can work here. Cities are different than suburbs, rural communities have unique needs, etc.

[-] 1 points by jph (2652) 2 years ago

Yes, we will keep using electricity, and there are many ways to generate it with current technology, no need to invent fictitious tech. and pretend it is real. There are people that like to promote these 'free energy' ideas saying things like "just a few years" and we will have tech. x y or z. The thing is they have been saying this same sht since the 70s, we do not need another techno-fix, we have all the tools we need to get to a much more balance system.

Why do you think the suburbs harder to relocalize? They are way easier than the cities in my opinion. Just picture all those big lawns full of intensive gardening, people walking and riding bikes on those nice wide streets, and people working in those communities instead of commuting an hour and a half each way five days a week!!!

Yes, I agree each level of density; city, suburb, rural, wild, has different possibilities and varying strategies are being used in each. Once again, I see very few things that are not just always process, it is not about achieving utopia, it is about wanting to try to make life and the world better, making constant improvements in the quality and diversity of all life. Arriving at the 'goal' is not the goal, striving towards the goal is the goal.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

What are you calling fictitious technology? I mean, we successfully built a thorium reactor way back in the 1960's (so there's nothing fictitious or for that matter scientifically remarkable about thorium). Some of the materials technology is in the developmental stage at this point, but the research is extremely promising (even if a bit further in the future).

We can actually retrofit existing nuclear plants with a thorium core (so thorium is something we can certainly do now, and the science is well understood).

But, yes, suburbs are obviously more challenging to localize, by simple caveat of the physical reality ... they're more geographically dispersed. Urban residents don't necessarily need cars (and electric cars are much more feasible in big cities). Yes, they need electricity, but alternatives like thorium reactors provide a reasonable solution. They're perfectly clean (they don't emit anything), they're safe (all the problems associated with conventional nuclear reactors, like waste disposal, melt down/leak risk, and proliferation, disappear), etc.

I would encourage anyone who's concerned about our environment (which should be everyone) to research thorium. The largest source of CO2 emissions in the US is coal fired electric plants, but vehicle emissions run a close second. The electricity problem is much easier to solve. But imagine if large cities installed fast charge plug in devices on the streets. Maybe they could give away special parking permits to residents who own purely electric vehicles, and locate the plug in outlets where some parking meters are located today.

Very near NYC is a nuclear plant called Indian Point. If we retrofitted that plant with a thorium core, not only do we eliminate melt down and leak risk, but we could safely burn our nuclear waste in thorium reactors (two birds with one stone). Another well understood process is gasification and the Fischer-Tropsch process. Instead of burying our garbage in landfills, we could gasify it, convert it into syngas, and burn syngas in our turbines (to generate electricity). It's a dirtier solution than thorium, but it's cleaner than burning coal in the conventional way (btw, we could also gasify coal in the same way, and we're doing this now in some places, research IGCC power plants).

[-] 1 points by JamesS89118 (646) from Las Vegas, NV 2 years ago

"Keep your money close and your jobs closer."

[-] 1 points by SPAR23 (25) 2 years ago

No it should not be free. The power companies spend money to get the power sources need money. So therefor they have to charge people. Everythin is not a basic human right, you dont get evrything handed to you.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Obviously someone would have to spend money to generate power (assuming we needed power plants of some sort), the question is whom, and under what conditions? The concept of "free" electricity has obvious implications (in terms of who spends money to generate power).

[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 2 years ago

Are you fishing for trolls? This forum is about Occupy.

[-] 3 points by Builder (4202) 2 years ago

Yes it is, and occupy# is all about escaping the control mechanisms of the 1%, including the cost of power generation and supply.

[-] 1 points by JadedGem (895) 2 years ago

Especially power supply! As one ticked off person who runs around trying to keep my money out of their hands, electricity and oil are two big money sinks I've been unable to escape. It irks me. I am going to order some heirloom seed and start a garden, looks like in my ex's yard. The grain fed to livestock is still a suck, plus I'm not sure I will make every loaf of bread. However, I am working on getting to that point. I noticed the thread on working real hard to get ahead. Most of the people who had skills were not self-employed so their skills were used to enrich the 1%. I decided I did not agree with or like somethings before I even went to college. I decided that since I was above average intellect wise, I could withhold this from society at large and only take jobs that a trained monkey could do. I lost a little income, I'm good with that trade off. I'm playing a totally different game now, and its not about what I can do to get ahead in this world. :)

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Why, isn't alternative energy (and a sustainable planet) an important (and relevant) issue?

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[-] 0 points by penguento (362) 2 years ago

The notion that there's some sort of conspiracy among big businesses to keep technology from people is silly and naive. That's not how businesses work. If there was some remarkable new energy technology out there, some venture capitalist would buy it in a second, and they'd be reselling it to you and you could get your thorium reactor at Amazon. They wouldn't think twice about putting Exxon or Chevron out of business. The idea that there's some gigantic conspiracy is just silliness, folks.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I never implied such a thing, although corporations do pursue their self interest (so I imagine there's some amount of collusion and artificial barriers to adoption of new technology). But yes, overall I acknowledge the statistical improbability of conspiracy theories :)

[-] 1 points by Frizzle (520) 2 years ago

It's not really the question if there is a conspiracy or not. But if the power of something so important should be in a the hands of corporations. After all they don't care what's the best solution, they only care what makes them the most money.

And lets face it, oil still makes them a lot of money yet is clearly a horrible energy source that's destroying our world. Same with nuclear power, it's clearly not the best solution either. But it's making them big bucks.

[-] 0 points by friendlyopposition (574) 2 years ago

I try to teach my children the difference between "free" and "included." For example, a restaurant advertises that if you buy a lunch combo, the drink is "free." My kids now understand that means the drink is "included". You already paid for the meal. It isn't a difficult concept, but it is one that is lost on many people. The fact is that nothing on your list above can be free. Public education (kindergarten through high school) may be thought of as "free," But it is actually just "included" as part of your taxes. We are all paying for it.

It is similar to the concept of "no free lunch" (I must be hungry with all of these food examples). If the same restaurant offers a "free lunch" - it may be that you don't have to pay for it, but the time and materials required to produce that lunch cost someone. Whether it was the business owner, or the Government through a sandwich grant. If you are going to make an argument about basic needs - then put it out there the way it is. "Electricity, like healthcare, food, water, and higher education is a basic need and should be provided to everyone by the government and funded by taxes."

Which brings up another point - when you say something is a 'basic human need' that means it is a universal need for all humans. Do you really think electricity is a basic human need everywhere in the world? The key word being 'basic.'

[-] 0 points by monetarist (40) 2 years ago

And whos gonna pay for the free electricity? The tax payer. Nothing is free. Get a reality check

[-] 0 points by penguento (362) 2 years ago

Well, if you want free energy from Thorium, who's going to build a free reactor for you? And if someone spends all their time building free reactors for other people, how will they live? If people provide a living for them while they do it, then its not free, is it? And if you think there's free energy all around you and you're entitled to if for free, why don't you build your own thorium reactor? No one's stopping you, any more than anyone's stopping you from starting up a workers' cooperative and providing all the pay and benefits you feel like providing for everyone who's part of it. All you have to do is stop talking and just do it.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Obviously I'm suggesting a public energy program (funded by tax dollars).

[-] 0 points by penguento (362) 2 years ago

So it's not free after all. You're just writing the check to a government utility agency rather than the local utility company. They must still build the power plant and all of the infrastructure, and maintain it, and pay everybody who works there. So you have government utilities, government heath care (that must also maintain facilities and pay people) government whatever else, and it's till all got to be paid for, and since it's the government, its "free", but you pay 90% of your paycheck in taxes. I fail to see where the savings accrue. And if you think that 90% figure is high, take some time to study the Danish tax system. They have an excellent social welfare program, but that's the price of it.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

If it were that expensive, then I'd say it would be too much. I'd at least like to see a move towards clean energy (but not pie in the sky stuff that doesn't even meet base power requirements).

[-] 0 points by Pequod (17) 2 years ago

This is a horrible idea! People waste energy as it is, can you imagine if it were free?! No one would turn iff a lightswitch.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Obviously this assumes clean electricity (and by clean I mean completely clean). Under current conditions, I absolutely agree with you (it would be a terrible idea).

[-] 0 points by JonFromSLC (-107) from West Valley City, UT 2 years ago

Ya, education, gasoline, cars, houses, bicycles, horses, dogs... everything should be free! yay!

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

No need to be silly, although "education" should be free (at least there should be cost free alternatives, like state universities with adequate ability to meet demand, quality public schools, etc.). Ideally, we move past the need for gasoline (and stop destroying our planet). Healthcare should be free. Everything else, not free, but ideally, mostly made in the USA :)

[-] 2 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

I find it peculiar that Mexico, what many consider a third-world country, offers tuition-free universities. I know Mexican dentists and doctors, who are repaying part of the costs of their educations--books, etc--by offering free clinics once or twice a week, since Mexico has socialized medicine as well as privitized medicine for those who prefer specific choices.

[-] 1 points by penguento (362) 2 years ago

Ever been to Mexico? I have. You should go there sometime yourself. You might find yourself preferring conditions here, unless you are very wealthy.

[-] 1 points by po6059 (72) 2 years ago

if you were to be an inhabitiant of concentration camp,....everything would be free. well not really free, the cost is your liberty , freedom and eventually your life. but what the hell,....................... who wants freedom when the state will give you everything you need to exist..

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I sort of agree with your sentiment, I'm not a fan of paternalism. But I think it's worth considering the idea that the state (if we're to have a state at all) can provide some services, and maybe even more effectively than otherwise possible. But I agree with something (maybe) implied in your response, the state is not necessarily the only vehicle to accomplish these things.

[-] 1 points by po6059 (72) 2 years ago

the "state" is the federal govt.

[-] 0 points by JadedGem (895) 2 years ago

Tesla was working on a way to make electricity so cheap the government to make it and beam it directly to homes and charge nothing for it. Unfortunately Tesla's research was being funded by J.P. Morgan. He shut Tesla down saying their not profit to be made from that! If any of Tesla's research exists it would be a great place to start.

[-] 1 points by penguento (362) 2 years ago

Here's a list of all 300 of Tesla' patents with patent numbers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nikola_Tesla_patents

If you click through the links for each patent, you can access the materials for the patent itself--descriptions, drawings, the whole shootin' match. If anybody here is interested in pursuing Tesla's work, here's your chance. You can also access his patents using the numbers via the search engine at the United States Patent and Trademark Office

[-] 1 points by JadedGem (895) 2 years ago

http://www.gravitycontrol.org/Nikola-Tesla.html Here's a link that mentions it. Now that you know what to google you can find many interesting things.

[-] 0 points by gforz (-43) 2 years ago

Well damn, Francis, you left out a lot of things. I mean, gasoline is pretty necessary, it should be free. What about shelter? Are we all to live in the elements? Free. Cellphones? Absolutely. Beer? I'm pretty down with it being dictated as a human need. Who's with me? Transportation of some kind, provide everyone with a car or other vehicle of their choice. A burial plot? Everyone needs one. Free. Clothes? C'mon, I don't want to see most of you naked. Free. Female hygiene products? Ooooooh. Free. Makeup? Free.................

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Let's think about this from the inverse perspective. Why should government provide military protection, police, prisons, etc.? Why is that any less paternalistic than healthcare, education, or energy?

[-] 0 points by gforz (-43) 2 years ago

Those institutions protect us from others doing physical harm to us, which enables us to go about living our lives and pursuing that which we wish to pursue without fear of being kidnapped, raped, or murdered. There are some things that make sense for society to do as a whole. Liberals just want to keep expanding the list, and they've been pretty successful.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

So what, why do you need a babysitter protecting you from physical harm? Can't you protect yourself? And why don't hospitals protect us from physical harm?

[-] 0 points by gforz (-43) 2 years ago

I see where you want to go with this. I'll cut it short. It's a matter of degree. Liberals want MORE, always more. And want to pay for it with someone else's, ANYONE else's money.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

What does "liberal" even mean?

From the Latin: līberālis, befitting the free.

So I'm not sure how this became a dirty word in American politics (oh wait, conservatives essentially endorse theocracy, albeit a soft form of theocracy, so I guess they can't really be considered liberal).

But anyway, I think you mean to say "democrats" ... who haven't exactly been endorsing "democracy" lately (but I digress).

Matter of degree or a matter of where we put our priorities? The way I see it is any authoritarian structure represents a concession to pure liberty and democracy. Some of these power structures may be necessary, but they should always be identified, challenged, and found justifiable (or they simply shouldn't exist).

I mean, how many police is too many? In theory, if we had enough police, built enough prisons, enforced laws harshly enough, we could eliminate virtually all crime. Of course then we move from soft authoritarianism to totalitarianism. Indeed, if we had enough police (and were willing to use harsh enough tactics), it wouldn't matter how poor and uneducated our population became, the state would be able to control it (indeed, under that scenario, maybe the dumber people are the better).

The worse part of it is, conservative philosophy only leads us down the road of more authoritarianism, more government, ever expansive intrusions into our lives, etc. So their philosophy is flawed even according to their own metrics. BTW, acknowledging this doesn't make me a democrat :)

[-] -1 points by gforz (-43) 2 years ago

That whole screed is a barely veiled threat of violence again. I am not for a police state, or building innumerable prisons, but what you seem to be saying is "Well, that's what your conservative government is going to have to do unless you give us the money from the rich and corporations and let us invest it where we see fit". You're trying to blame conservative government for becoming totalitarian as a result of not throwing more money down the drain in education or welfare payments. That's be like Nancy Pelosi blaming those silly companies who moved out of California for the need to raise taxes again. Our priorities should not be in anesthetizing our populace into becoming wards of the state, and providing everything from their food to shelter, (one talking on this forum about free electricity), never ending unemployment, ad infinitum. The larger and more bureaucratic a government grows, the more it is a threat to liberty and democracy. Everyone hates politicians, yet wish to give them more power by creating new departments and agencies to regulate this or that over which that politician has the purse strings and which needs to be funded by new taxes, which enables him to be corrupted. Doesn't make sense to me. Should we invest in education and reducing poverty? Sure. We already do. We have for 40-50 years. More isn't better.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

This sounds like a regurgitation of the popular political discourse in this country. When new ideas come along, people are so immersed in the status quo, they can't even recognize new ideas for what they are (they default to trying to fit every idea within some preexisting political framework). This is exactly how the powers that be would like you to think, in their terms.

[-] 0 points by gforz (-43) 2 years ago

"New" ideas aren't pouring more money into the Department of Education, or giving even more money to to welfare programs or unemployment. A "new" idea in my mind, would be to take a couple of billion dollars out of the military budget immediately, find out what industries need workers,and spend that money training enemployed people to fill those jobs, immediately. We need to take the existing amount of revenue we have, supplement it reasonably if possible, and drastically reorient spending priorities to get people educated and trained for decent paying jobs. These people will then pay taxes. I would liken it to a family where there are a lot of needs and the family is struggling to pay its bills. It becomes an "all hand on deck" situation where you both curtail your spending and tell the kids to start working as well after school or during the summer. Everyone contributes and as a consequence everyone is eventually better off.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I agree, and not a terrible idea (although I'm not sure if lack of trained workers is that big of a problem, but it could be I suppose). Another idea, 42,000 factories have closed since 2000 (almost all because of offshore sweatshop type labor). We have thousands of employee owned companies in the US, and studies have shown ESOP's (and similar models) to be more productive, survive longer, etc. Why not a loan program to enable workers to buy these closed down factories, and resume production? There's a few million jobs right there, add in the multiplier, we get millions of more jobs.

How about a value added tax (with an exemption for cottage industries, which should be allowable under WTO rules) to replace some or all of our income taxes (at least taxes on average workers)? Even better, we could split revenue collected from a VAT between states & the federal government (and shrink the federal government, but start by getting rid of homeland security, a giant bureaucratic inefficient monster, and reducing military spending, why are we defending wealthy countries like Germany anyway).

While we're at it ... a national energy strategy, focused on technologies that could actually solve our energy problem (like thorium, alcohol fuels, gasification, etc., versus things like solar or wind, which at best, could only meet 15% of our energy needs, and could never meet base power requirements)?

I'm not sure ideas like this would even be considered in today's political environment. Unless we get the corrosive influence of money out of politics, reform our financial system, and move towards real participatory democracy, I don't see a very good future. The only interest that isn't represented in our checks and balances system, is the people. Until that changes, we're stuck with half assed top down solutions, quasi-authoritarianism, and probably decline.

[-] 0 points by gforz (-43) 2 years ago

I think we're at a crossroads, where we're going to have a choice to kind of muddle through, be conservative, try to curtail our spending, suffer for a long while, and eventually be OK, or speed up the process and either succeed wildly or absolutely go down in flames and be like Greece. We can throw caution to the wind and double down on the debt, hope interest rates don't rise (just because they haven't Mr. Krugman, doesn't mean they won't), and hope the investments we make pay off, but if they don't, or they do, we're in deep shit, deeper than we are now. The corresponding spending cuts and tax increases would kill us. Or, I guess we could tell the world to fuck off, we aren't paying our debt, and see how that flies.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I think more creativity is required. For instance, if we reduced spending in the obvious places (where it's not useful to us) we save some money. If we enact a VAT we can raise some additional revenue (although it should also be used to offset other taxes to the extent feasible). If debt is growing faster than GNP, interest rates "must" rise (or currency becomes seriously devalued).

The question is what do we spend our money on (because notwithstanding our current circumstances, we still have plenty of money, we're just doing a poor job of allocating it). Maybe an anarchist sort of society would be the ideal, sort of an open question at this point (but if that ever happens, it's far in the future, and even if we moved towards more participatory democracy and all the other things necessary to facilitate it, we still need a culture that can flourish without a paternalistic state, which is a very slow, bottom up process).

[-] 0 points by gforz (-43) 2 years ago

I think if you just look at the big picture, spending is $3.6 trillion of which $700B is the military and the rest is entitlements of some kind or interest on the debt. We've got $2.3 trillion in total revenues. You could take a giant whack out of military spending (say 50% which is ridiculous, but just for argument's sake), and increase taxes by 50% on the top 1%, and you'd only cut into that $1.3 T deficit by $500 billion. That's how bad it is. It is painfully obvious to me that we can't continue on the present course. And it's much too painful for those on here who have their fingers in their ears and blinders on, and are thinking if they can just get into the pockets of the wealthy all their problems will be over.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Is something we pay into our entire working careers an entitlement? I mean, I hate that word when applied to things like social security or Medicare. We should cut military spending, simply because we shouldn't be addicted to empire, it's a dead end road (but not on the backs of our troops, but rather, close foreign bases wherever they're not needed, which is most of them), we should raise taxes on the wealthy (back to Clinton era rates at least), because as it is, they're paying a lower rate than many in the middle class. These are things we should do anyway (regardless of our debt situation), so it's low fruit on the tree. Homeland Security is a giant waste of money, they even fucked up the Secret Service (who would have thought that was possible). Social security and Medicare aren't our problems (at this point they're self-funding, and indeed, we take from those programs to add to general revenue).

Unemployment is also a good program, and stuff like food stamps, I mean sure, you can find a few ass holes who abuse it (but they're by far the exception), and overall, we don't do nearly enough for our poor. If we were investing in education rather than an authoritarian police state, we'd have much fewer problems. Let's face it, conservatives oppose all the things that help average people, and the only things they seem to support, is endless war, an exceedingly growing police state (giving us nice distinctions like the largest prison population on earth, even larger than China, a communist nation with four times our population), etc. These are just not decent people, and they're not fit to run anything.

My favorite one is when conservatives say the wealthy pay more taxes than anyone. Of course that's true .... all the money is concentrated at the top (so far from being a point in favor of their position, it only highlights the problem). Sure, democrats are not exactly saints, but they're certainly far better than republicans (who only promise to drag us back in time, make us an exceedingly dumber nation, embroil us in endless war, until at some point the world will have had enough).

[-] 0 points by gforz (-43) 2 years ago

Francis, you've just highlighted the difference between conservatives and the other side. You responded to hard numbers by not addressing them, but rather started taling about the "decency" of people, and "helping" and "doing enough". Francis, we're in the hole $1.3-$1.4 trillion EACH AND EVERY YEAR. This deficit cannot be closed by taxing the rich or the poor. We can of course cut the military, but something tells me if we have another 9-11 that the first to shriek "Where was the government" will be Democrats, but instead of taking direct responsibility for their support of cutting the military or Homeland Security, or CIA or whatever, they will redirect and say that's what we get for not taxing enough. I'm willing to do a lot of what you say, close bases, get rid of unnecessary programs and redirect some of that money to retraining all of the people who will lose their jobs as a result of those closings and those programs. If you don't think Medicare is going to be a problem with the rolls expected to rise from 47 million to 80 million in the next 20 years, you are insane. You're taking a measly 1.45 percent of wages for Medicare. I'm just doing quick math, but with an individual income of $13.3 trillion combined, that comes to roughly $200 billion dollars, and with employer match would be roughly $400 billion. Last number I saw for 2011 they spent $800 billion on Medicare/Medicaid/CHIP. It's going to get way worse. Bottom line, Francis, please face the fact that push is going to come to shove eventually and either we tweak these programs or departments, or the middle class is going to get the hell taxed out of them, as well as the rich. I think the people on the Simpson-Bowles commission know a bit more about deficits and debt than people posting on internet forums. Perhaps we should listen to them.

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[-] -1 points by MikeInOhio (13) 2 years ago

Would you like free gas too?

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I would prefer NO gas.

[-] -1 points by MikeInOhio (13) 2 years ago

So would we all, but it isn't practical.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

If we think it's not practical, then it won't be. I know this may sound cavalier, but it's really not. In many respects, reality is what we make it.