Archive for September, 2012

Failures of Capitalism in a Depression

September 27, 2012

I’ve argued before that we’ve really been in a depression for a long time. It could be called a ‘recession’ only because borrowed money artificially supported parts of the economy, but that’s only a short term solution.
Manufacturing jobs have fallen precipitously. Some were offshored, others were eliminated by mechanization of manufacturing. The relentless drive for efficiency also included loss of jobs in offices and in such departments as design and accounting because computers now could do what was formerly done by people. Even cleaning machines reduced the need for janitorial services. Bottom line, fewer humans needed as machines took over. Fewer humans, fewer jobs…and no other jobs to go to. At this point there are jobs, but only for the well educated. And not simply for any college graduate, but only for those with a master’s or higher in business, engineering, science, and math. A degree in liberal arts or humanities simply won’t provide the qualification that employers are looking for.
And only government expenditures, supported by taxes on the wealthy and creation of new money, can reverse the decline. Capitalism won’t do that, and this is the failure of capitalism. Capitalists invest not to take risk, but to receive profit. No guaranteed profit, no expenditure; the more perceived risk, the less likely the chance of investment by capitalism.
Only government can spend without expectation of profit.
An ideal system consists of government (e.g., socialist) development where there’s not enough profit potential for capitalism; capitalism to increase efficiency and extract profit after this initial development.
Control of capitalism to prevent abuse after the opportunity has stabilized. That’s what capitalists hate, the idea that as risk is reduced, they also must restrain their urge to profit.
Monopolies are one way that capitalism reduces risk. Microsoft/Bill Gates understood that. As competition increases, risk also increases, and profit opportunity declines. Industries and companies now actively exploit the political sector to decrease competition by a variety of strategies; tax abatement, even subsidies, other political moves that favor some over others. Pure capitalism doesn’t include those things, but capitalists are quick to involve them to lessen risk while increasing profit.

Global Warming Experiment, updated

September 21, 2012

Continuing to work on my counter to the greenhouse effect/global warming.
I’m not as happy with my test prototype as I was. I did what every researcher should do, gather lots of data. The difference between shaded and sunny earth temperatures is clear, in the range 15ºC to 20ºC in late afternoon, but I’m getting readings from the plastic surface that are much higher than I think they should be. Meantime, the plastic is cool to the touch, indicting that it’s not absorbing heat. I want to make sure that the plastic isn’t converting incoming short-wave solar radiation to long-wave infrared, which would defeat the purpose of the panel, increasing albedo (reflected energy) while limiting insolation (absorbed energy). I’m using an infra-red based thermometer, so I’m getting information that an ordinary contact thermometer wouldn’t give. I plan on trying one of those today.
I was thinking as I drove down the interstate that it would be simple to line both sides of the interstate with panels. And then it occurred to me that we’ve been changing the insolation/albedo equation already. Black, rough-textured asphalt absorbs insolation more and decreases albedo. And we’ve got thousands of miles of that crossing our southwestern deserts. I don’t know that anyone has documented this; heat island effects of cities is known, but I suspect the square meter count of absorbent surfaces outside of cities is at least as great as the square meter area within urban urban areas. Part of the resistance to acceptance of the greenhouse effect is that it depends on what is essentially a trace gas, Carbon dioxide. All the trace gases amount to only 1% of the atmosphere, and so it’s difficult to see how that can change planetary climates so drastically. But if you add in the increase in insolation/decrease in albedo caused by urban heat islands, deforestation, and highways, then it begins to make the phenomenon more understandable.
Meantime, it’s late in the season now; winter is going to be similar to what I measure in the mornings, temperature differences of only 5ºC or even less. I will plan on putting up a series of perhaps 5 panels in the spring using mirrored plastic rather than the off-white translucent plastic I’ve been using. I began with this because it was cheap and I already had it on hand. It has done one thing, given me preliminary measurements to serve as a baseline while I attempt to improve the efficiency of the panels.