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back to article The FDRs of Green explain the gentle art of planet saving

A "triple crunch" of financial crisis, climate change and soaring oil prices threatens the world with a new Great Depression so, 'drawing inspiration from FDR' the Green New Deal Group proposes "a modernised version" of the solution. FDR himself being unhappily unavailable, we have the newly-formed group and its eponymous report …

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Anonymous Coward

Eh?

What I particularly love about this is that they seem to think that we could save the world, it's environment and it's economy, by operating our economy in isolation.

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Anonymous Coward

I am sure that they

would learn to listen to the electorate's concerns if in charge - now where have I heard that before :s

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Paris Hilton

A distinction I wasn't clear on

How is the price of energy rising so that people can't afford it different from an energy crunch? It's very nice to say the market will moderate demand through pricing- but that is just abstracting away the fact that there are real people having to pay a whole lot more money than they can afford if they want to leave their television on standby, boil a full kettle every time and do all the other things that are the basic survival needs of a modern british citizen.

Also, maybe it's a question of sufficiently advanced technology, but all this talk of "The Markets will solve all our problems" just seems a bit religious to me.

Another worrying indication of religious thinking here is that if any Infidel associated with The Guardian is involved then something must automatically be wrong. Because, you know, The Guardian. We all know that, don't we? I mean, seriously guys, those people at The Guardian? They're all heretics and need to be burned forthwith. That's not a strong argument, that's appealing to what you imagine to be the inherent bias in your audience.

The trouble with religion, in this sense at least, is that it creates a thought process of "we are right and they are wrong" that believes itself to be utterly self-justifying. You see it a lot in the environmental movement, you see it a lot in the right-wing free-market stuff like this and across a whole lot of other topics. It stifles serious debate and it's always tiresome to read, whatever it's direction of travel. I certainly don't see a place for it on a site dedicated to science and IT news.

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Well said 'Breakfast'!!

Well said, good man!

Substituting one stream of misguided dogma for another, solves no-one's problems. And there are REAL problems out there.

I did quite like the article, but must confess that the evident bias detracts from the larger message and makes it hard to determine whether the author is being practical or merely pejorative.

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Eco Luddites - Make FDR spin

Well I guess FDR will be spinning in his grave, the greens should read a book on basic economics before pandering thier utopian apocalypse.

FDR's new deal of the 1930's was all about getting people back to work, and thereby consuming more goods & services, WWII kick started this into overdrive with enormous capital wealth being invested. Likewise because of the enormous economic strength (created by WWII) in the USA, the US was able to rebuild the entire economy of Western Europe afterwards, meaning we have some of the highest average standards of living possible today.

If the greens want to really make a difference to the planet, they should support the conversion of all fosil fuel electricity production to nuclear power. Not only would this reduce our global emissions of CO2 to pre industrial levels, but in addidtion the investment of goods and capital in new nuclear plants would kickstart any slumbering ecconomies. Now if we where really radical we would build the nuclear plants in the third world, so by injecting enormous capital wealth into thier economies.

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stopped reading...

... at 2,500 AD. Written in 2,008 by someone who doesn't check his own text. What else is wrong, then? I stopped trusting it right there.

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Anonymous Coward

@Hollerith

OK so 2508 AD would be precisely 500 years. But I don't supposed that the 500 year estimate is that exact.

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Spot on, Breakfast

These strange, right-wing, free market, reliously anti-environmentalism articles appearing on the Register are really starting to puzzle me. Just seem very out of place on a site like this. The Reg is starting to read more and more like some right-wing pundit's blog - which is a real shame I think, whether you agree with these views or not. I'd also hoped that IT people especially would be sceptical about polemics like this, whether coming from left or right.

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Cuban Agriculture!

Not to smart of the Socialist Greens to mention that, given that Cuba is now handing land over to private individuals - as they're more productive - in an effort to reduce its food imports.

Really, when *Cuba* starts abandoning the concept of The-State-Knows-Best you know the games up.

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@breakfast & company

Since when was television a basic survival need of anyone?

Was it before or after we decided that the presence of free market principles stifled debate and should therefore be stifled itself?

Maybe we should instead ignore the study of economics and focus on the REAL problems out there. I'm not sure what the agenda is, but it is clear that we've forgotten that every decision we make has an effect. The effect might be a positive or negative cost, but it is a reality nonetheless. Why not quantify the price of our decisions and maybe even look to see if our policies are the cause of our problems instead of solutions to them

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not anti-enviromental

I think the register is a good outlet for the enlightened sceptic & I don't think it being overly biased to present an alternative viewpoint. If the enviromental movement is driving to save the planet, then its key aim should be to share resources as efficiently as practical, the market mechanism is the most efficient way we know to do this. Imposing controls that restrict the free movement of capital only creates a world of haves & have nots.

I don't recycle glass because I think it will save the planet, I recycle glass because I know that it takes less energy input to make a milk bottle out of another milk bottle and there fore in the long term the price of milk bottles will fall and I will be better off.

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umm

"These strange, right-wing, free market, reliously anti-environmentalism articles"

I'm not wholly convinced that pointing out that *certain* environmentalists are talking through their hat is the same thing as being anti-environmental.....anti-certain environmentalists, yes, clearly, but not anti- the environment.

"The Markets will solve all our problems"...erm, no, markets are very good at solving certain problems, like the allocation of scarce resources, the price system as information as to what are scarce resources and so on. There are many things which markets unaided will not solve: the most obvious being things like CO2 emissions which are currently external to market processes. But *what* we do about those things is still up for debate. I prefer to slap on a carbon tax and bring those costs into market price calculations: the writers of the report discussed above seem to have different ideas which I take issue with.

As to The Guardian, well, they did make rather a blunder there, didn't they? Allowable to sneer at them for that, surely? There are times when I fully support the G (over free trade and the abolition of farm subsidies for example: after all, one of the paper's founders was Cobden).

As to 2008 and 500 years: apologies.

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If the market is right...

I have to admit that the ranting started to blur into itself by the third page, but on the subject of the market regulating itself, prices being fair, oil being sold at a realistic price, and so on, what's to stop the vested interests (ie. people selling oil) from just consolidating their position and selling very expensive commodities to only those who can afford them? Sure, the economic theory says that the market will eventually innovate to produce alternatives, but what if the vested interests are able to obstruct such outcomes? In other words: you can have your "green energy" once rich people are done with spending big money on each new barrel of oil.

It seems to me that such deference to the market as a perfect instrument of policy and strategy is, as always, misguided. But since the message can usually be summarised as "don't do anything, it'll all sort itself out in the end", I can see the appeal to all those armchair politicians out there.

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Beware of hellhole makers

Some people here seem nostalgic of the insane FDR policies. In essence, FDR tightened credit at a time where a liquidity crisis struck the country. That liquidity crisis, by the way, was generated by the policy of the Federal Reserve, who blindly supported a "Real Bill" ideological control of credit. See numerous books on the subject.

Mr Worstall has written his article as a cynical piece taking potshots at blumbering fools pontificating about a subject they ignore. Unfortunately, he is right.

The sad truth is that very few people on Earth, if any, undestand the complexity of the economy. To try to understand its intricacy, you have to understand the motivation of human action, a rather hard undertaking.

Once you understance that, you will realize that you're up against things you cannot reliably influence, let alone control, and you'll leave them alone. But if you are a foolish tinkerer like the New Economics Foundation, your hubris and arrogance will lead you to impose a dictatorship and create yet another centralized economy hellhole.

That's the point of the article. And Mr Worstall is right. Case in point: A lot of recent immigrants from Poland would be delighted to tell you more about the delights of such hellholes, since they grew up in one. They'll also be happy to beat you into a pulp if you insist on creating one in the place where they are trying to rebuild a life.

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Bravo!

A good article. I tend to forgive most journalists for not understanding things like opportunity cost and the Theory of Comparative Advantage, but when you're writing an "experts report" then there is no excuse for not doing your research.

Happy friday, all!

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Unhappy

The Reason Why....

"...Maybe we should instead ignore the study of economics and focus on the REAL problems out there..."

"..The sad truth is that very few people on Earth, if any, undestand the complexity of the economy..."

You may have noticed an item on the output from Teacher Training establishments today? Apparently, around 39,000 new teachers leave these every year. Figures for English and Maths teachers are around 3000. Similar for Sciences. Figures for Classics teachers are 29, which gives you some idea of how important a proper education is nowadays (pause for rant).

But the figure I liked best was that for Economics teachers. It was 3.

Rather explains how a Green New Deal Group could get started in the first place, doesn't it?

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Someone buy Tim a GCSE guide to economics, please!

"Quite why they think this is a bad idea isn't explained. Would it have been better if all banks in Florida had gone bust because the risk was concentrated there instead?"

For someone who styles himself as an economic commentator, the level of understanding of economics beyond the basics here is rather worrying. The level of risk taken on by the financial system is dependent on the tools that people have to manage that risk - the simple fact that people were able to disperse risks created an incentive to take bigger gambles.

Reducing a relatively minor semantic point about whether the BBA sets libor or calculates it (the BBA represents the banks which individually set the overnight rates that combine to give libor) to an ad hominem attack on Larry Elliott further undermines the dignity of your piece. Perhaps you'd also like to point out to your readers that he has been warning about the likely end-game for the housing market bubble for years?

Markets are wonderful things, but they're not infallible - believing that technology and investment will automatically and instantly fix every threat to society is staggeringly naive - perhaps you'd like to show me the market-generated cure for MRSA or AIDS? Markets are particularly bad at long-term investment - not unsurprising when the key actors in financial markets are paid a salary that would allow them to retire and enjoy living in luxury after a career of less than a decade. Knowing where markets are best, and where government action is most appropriate is the real key to improving our quality of living - neither pure socialism nor market fundamentalism on its own is the solution.

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Re: If the market is right

"what's to stop the vested interests (ie. people selling oil) from just consolidating their position and selling very expensive commodities to only those who can afford them?"

You describe a cartel, which is a form of market manipulation and that is precisely what the state regulators are for - to protect market from abuse and manipulation by individual participants.

Note that usually such protections are needed only for niche and illiquid markets which are vulnerable for distortion by a small number of participants.

Highly liquid markets, such as WTI crude oil futures market (which is the benchmark crude market you hear on the news about when someone is saying "crude oil price in New York"), tend to correct themselves through market mechanisms and arbitrage with other liquid markets. The larger the market the more difficult it is to manipulate and the less impact an individual manipulater will be able to make on it.

On the opposite, overregulation and controls invariably distort the markets and because such controls do not solve the underlying problem but act on the symptoms instead - the problem remains, it just manifests itself differently.

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Happy

FAO Badger

"but on the subject of the market regulating itself, prices being fair, oil being sold at a realistic price, and so on, what's to stop the vested interests (ie. people selling oil) from just consolidating their position and selling very expensive commodities to only those who can afford them?"

You don't think that, say, America or Russia wouldn't roll the tanks in if OPEC started *properly* taking the piss - artifically setting the price [by whatever means] at $500/barrell - to protect western oil dependant industries?

Just a thought...

Steven R

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Re: If the market is right

Vladimir Plouzhnikov: "You describe a cartel"

Funny that: what do you think OPEC is?

Steven Raith: "You don't think that, say, America or Russia wouldn't roll the tanks in if OPEC started *properly* taking the piss"

I'm not convinced that Russia would need to be rolling its tanks anywhere in such circumstances. As for America, I think its recent foreign policy achievements speak for themselves.

Of course, effects of "the market" need not manifest themselves in a nice, gradual fashion: downturns can be sudden and harsh. Timely incentives from governments can arguably soften the impact and provide the means for industries and the wider population to adapt.

Sometimes the tail ends up wagging the dog, however, as is evident with certain energy-intensive industries and heavily subsidised power generation projects (some nuclear, some hydroelectric), where one has to suspect brown envelope involvement at the "regulatory" level.

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Sadly

"perhaps you'd like to show me the market-generated cure for MRSA or AIDS?"

There is no cure for any viral disease, neither publically nor privately funded. (MRSA isn't such a viral disease, of course...but what cures we have for it are indeed privately created, new antibiotics).

We have vaccines which can stop you from getting some viral diseases, all of which have been private sector created. We also have a number of drugs, anti-retrovirals, which are useful in stopping the advancement of certain viral diseases: all of which are, again, from the private sector.

Or , well, mebbe, I'm entirely wrong. Could be. Can you point me to the non-market generated cure for MRSA or AIDS?

There is a cure for AIDS, right? One which the public sector has created? Or not?

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Growth

The notion that free market forces inexorably move us forward and that crises such as the current triple threat facing us all will be smoothed over by free market activity relies entirely on the underlying concept of the "growth based economy."

How long do we expect to continue growth on a planet with finite resources? In the last 50 years, world population has more than doubled; it is ~250% of what it was in 1958. This is within my lifetime! With the exponential rise in population, impacts on the environment will also continue to multiply.

Its not just about oil. Its about the fact that the planet is quickly becoming and may already be overpopulated. There is no "new world" to conquer, no new opportunities to exploit, no new get rich quick schemes that can protect us from that fact.

At some point, which we may well have passed years ago, there has to be a major paradigm shift to the idea of a sustainable or maintenance based economy. I don't think this includes the wild west mentality of free market capitalism as it exists today.

The information age has accelerated an increasing sophistication in society, bringing about positive changes that benefit the many, rather than the few. Here in the US right wing conservatives regularly bash the idea of centralized national "universal" health care, and many of them have called the idea a form of socialism, or even more extreme, fascism! But it will come, because people are finally coming around to the realization that helping others is good for themselves also.

I believe that as society continues to mature, we will embrace concepts that are all too quickly branded by ideologues as evil, because they supposedly limit individual freedom. But some of those freedoms allow individuals and corporations to, either intentionally or inadvertently, effectively prey on the weak for gain.

Isn't "survival of the fittest" a bit beneath us?

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@bart

"How long do we expect to continue growth on a planet with finite resources?"

Easy. We invent some more.

You could have asked the same eco-alarmist question in 1500, when all the forests were being chopped down. Panic everyone! - what will we use for fuel? Fossil fuels done us nicely, we're at the stage when we can use nuclear and renewables, and we'll never have to worry about an energy crisis again. Similarly with food technology and agricultural production. They may not be evenly distributed, but no one needs to go hungry.

"Its about the fact that the planet is quickly becoming and may already be overpopulated."

That's not a fact, that's a prejudice. And this "optimum" population is defined by... er, you?

Malthus was wrong then, and he's wrong now.

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Wingnut

Not another "Wingnut Tim" article. You're getting as bad as slashdot.

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Re: Growth

Its not just about oil. Its about the fact that the planet is quickly becoming and may already be overpopulated. There is no "new world" to conquer, no new opportunities to exploit, no new get rich quick schemes that can protect us from that fact.

Yes we are outgrowing this planet. Time to look beyond - there is plenty of lebensraum, resources and energy in space and that's where we will go. Or die.

At some point, which we may well have passed years ago, there has to be a major paradigm shift to the idea of a sustainable or maintenance based economy. I don't think this includes the wild west mentality of free market capitalism as it exists today.

The paradigm shift will be to expand beyond this planet.

We, humans, clearly are "designed" to be unable to live in a closed-circuit sustainable environment for long. So, let's not fool ourselves, this utopic ideal will never be reached. We will either grow or die out.

A bean sprout may dream about a cosy sustainable everafter inside the bean but once germination has started it has no choice but to get out and look for external resources. And in the case of humanity the germination has started long time ago.

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Back to basics?

For every profit made by business there is a loss made by another busines,individual or group.Huge profits beget huge losses. With all this claptrap about economies ,free markets, individual freedoms etc.which government, which CEO or CFO or news editor cares a damn for all the millions of ordinary people who have lost their homes or their savings.

"Capitalist" really means "I have a lot of money (usually made dubiously) and you will work for me to make me more ,which will never be enough!"

Western business greed at the expense of the rest of the world (and of their own) is beginning to tear everything apart."Democracy" - what a laugh "This is my Dollar mate, you're nor worth a cent!

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Re: Sadly

"We have vaccines which can stop you from getting some viral diseases, all of which have been private sector created."

Don't confuse the name on the packet with the origins of the development because in many cases the work most likely had public money spent on it.

It's interesting to read complaints about lack of investor interest in private sector organisations in the drugs business - not happy with the various instruments offering a variety of monopolies to drugs producers (some kinds of patents being more unethical than others, of course), the public sector and its regulatory cousin seemingly has to sweeten the deal still further. And while certain private sector producers don't see the benefit of providing decently priced treatments to the people who need them the most, preferring to sell "vanity products" to rich westerners, it's the public sector who has to step up and help out, once again.

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@The Badger

"Vladimir Plouzhnikov: "You describe a cartel"

Funny that: what do you think OPEC is?"

Yes, it is a cartel... to be precise, a joke of a cartel. Their influence on price is minimal, as the recent history of price movements clearly shows. OPEC consists of member-states who never really can agree on anything, hence, the constant "cheating" where members exporting much more oil then they are supposed to. Besides, OPEC is not the only source of oil in the world.

The actual price discovery in the oil markets currently happens in WTI and Brent futures.

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Go

@Jim Coe

Economics is not a zero-sum game.

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Paris Hilton

@Syskoll

"The sad truth is that very few people on Earth, if any, undestand the complexity of the economy."

Luckily everyone of them posts on The Register and will be adding their comments here.

Paris, because see understands market forces better than most of us.

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Sustaining for what purpose?

Want more complex hydrocarbons? Titan appears to have plenty, and that's just the beginning.

Too much carbon in the atmosphere? Nano has plenty of uses for it, so consider it temporary "resource banking" until we extract it for building materials, and whatever else fits our fancy. If nothing else, we'll need it to build ships and elevator cables.

Nuclear waste? More resource banking. If it glows strong we can burn it later, if not, well, there's a landfill just under 100M miles away that can take it all without notice.

Overpopulation? Open the options to live elsewhere, and the problem solves itself.

Or we could just stay here, go back to signs and omens as basis of action, stick our heads in the dirt of our eco-sensitive sustainable hellholes, and try to ignore that the Earth routinely undergoes wholly natural events which no manipulation of scientific data will prevent from snuffing our species like a spent candle.

Soylent Greenie -- at least then they'd contribute something useful.

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Extinction by lack of ambition.

The greenies egos will never allow them to consider being wrong. They simply must know better than everyone else, thus justifying their silencing dissent using any means necessary. Pity there are so many that don't their "this is too important to allow opposition" as the tyranny it is, but that's just another sign our species has run past our collective "use by" date. It'll be back to dirt farms, candles, famines and plagues, till some utterly predictable ELE ends us.

Sustainable but ultimately pointless.

Time for the next species to have a go at it. With luck they'll come after all our biomass has been turned into a new base of fossil fuels to support their industrial and early extra-planetary exploration eras

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@Johnathan Tate

"Economics is not a zero-sum game."

Proof please. Rigorous, and not by micro-economic example, thanks.

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Paris Hilton

@Johnathan Tate & @Ste(v?)en Hive

""Economics is not a zero-sum game."

Proof please. Rigorous, and not by micro-economic example, thanks."

The sun. It's freely available for (almost) everyone to harvest energy from, constantly introducing a commodity into the market.

Kind of like MMORPGs and gold. We just don't have the NPC goldsinks.

Paris because she's a goldsink (but possibly not an NPC).

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Happy

Zero sum proof

The computer Industry

That is all

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Anonymous Coward

There is no easy answer

Nor is it straightforward. There are simple facts which are self evident. For example that the world's economy is being distorted by the change in oil price. In the UK the change over the last year has removed some £50bn from the economy. You cannot do this without having some effect. The effect in the USA is similar even though they have a much higher consumption rate than the UK there economy is bigger. France is probably better off than us because of all their nuclear generation capacity.

Eventually the market corrections will occur but our dependency on oil (and other fossil fuels) will remain for some time and we must expect to be vulnerable to sudden reversals. There are economic actions that could be taken to force the pace of change, however this is another subject.

A similar thing is happening with our trade with India and China. This is removing cash from our economy and in the particular case of China the cash injection is tending to destabilise the economy. Of course they are also experiencing higher resource cost which are beginning to make some balance.

The effect of house pricing is probably irrelevant as the flow of money is mostly internalised to the UK (or US) economy. However the risk of the market is reducing turnover which is affecting the economy.

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Paris Hilton

Green Party = Communist Party

But it's not cool (politically correct) to be Communist, so, like so many other Chinese products, they just repackaged and re-labeled it. They're still seeking the same outcome: government controlled economy (everything). It's a pretty ingenious tactic, I have to admit.

If someone disagrees, the response is not to the argument made against them, it's a personal attack on the person making the argument... classic liberal politics.

I'm all for protecting mother nature, because I like my water clean, and prefer my hamburgers not to glow in the dark, and want the same for my kids and fellow man, but that requires the use of the real scientific method... not hysterical fear mongering on the part of PhD weilding zealots. The same principles hold true for the economic segment of society.

Paris, because she doesn't hide who she really is.

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Dogma

"...that the most efficient method of rationing something is price."

This may be true, or it may not. Price, however, is not the sole component in a rational decision.

Would the author drive a nuclear powered car that was cheaper than gas but had no radiation protection?

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@dogma

"This may be true, or it may not. Price, however, is not the sole component in a rational decision."

Quite. This is what tickles me pink about the "Economics is not a zero-sum game" people. They use a quaint, normative model to explain choice parts of a process and subsequently think that they should cack-handedly run the entire world to fit the model. They're as bad as the greens.

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Joke

Wow, first an anti-global-warming article, and then this...

I'm amazed. I had thought the Register to be well and fully in the control of greenies and commies. Kudos for printing the other side every so often.

I would like to point out something about monopolies, the mentioned situation where all the major suppliers in a given industry get together and try to control the market.

As an anarcho-capitalist, I have to say that this situation rarely obtains. It has, from time to time, been the case that a given company has gained absolute control over resources, but it is almost always accomplished with governmental intervention. And, it almost always happens to the detriment of the company doing it.

Witness the 1970s, when OPEC tightened production. The United States, at least, cut its consumption deeply. Now, OPEC was faced with the fact that they could either sell much less oil at a higher price or more oil at a lower price. Believe it or not, the OPEC embargo actually hurt OPEC countries badly and caused an eventual cratering of oil prices that the world is only now seeing a recovery from. Yes, that's right; oil is still not very expensive compared to other commodities.

Now, the loss in value of your particular currency, that's your own stupid fault and the true main driver in the increase in the price of oil, and also gold, silver, food, anything there is a finite supply of. The fun thing about being an anarcho-capitalist is watching all this unfold pretty much as we predicted it would, without any real worry anyone will ever take us seriously...

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@dogma

Heh. Economics, for those of you late to the subject, is as much a study of psychology as anything else. Sure, there are numbers and maths and hard things like models and graphs, but it all boils down to preference.

Economists call it the 'utility function', which is what the free man uses to evaluate the things he wants. In other words, if he wants a Prius, he will pay for one, bidding it up and allowing Toyota to sell more or increase the price (do we all remember the demand curve, class?). The utility function is a computation of all the priorities in a rational entity that results in the allocation of resources to achieve the entity's ends.

So, when you say that price is not the sole component of a rational decision, you have seriously missed the point. Price is more a result of the decision process. Price is what you have after you have computed a given thing's worth in comparison to all the other things you could have bought. In other words, when you're looking at soda, you may decide to buy the generic brand so you can get chips too, which signals as a result that the quality of the soda isn't as important as the getting of chips. Alternatively, you may forego the chips because you feel you need the better quality soda, which validates the higher price.

Yes, price is a component of the consumer's decision and cost (the prices a producer pays) is a component of the producer's decision, but the thrust of price theory is that where the two prices (consumer and producer) meet is a result of all kinds of calculations, or, in the case of most people and soda, a whim.

What I'm trying to say is that the statement that the market will signal price as an indication of overall systemic interest in a thing is not a dogma at all; it is a rational observation as valid as that things fall and we call this gravity. Price theory is pretty darn easy to defend as theories go. It is those that wish to regulate prices that must resort to normative tactics, as they say they know better than the accumulated wishes of the unwashed what those wishes ought to be and thus are entitled to mess around with price.

Well, welcome to another interesting fact that price theory predicts: force the price down and there will be not enough of the thing to go around, causing lines, frustrated consumers and things like blackouts. This is because producers can't afford to grow production and don't see an adequate profit margin so slow production until they do. Force the price up artificially and people quit buying it so much, which can lead to a reduction in profits as the cost increases due to reduced scale coupled with a reduction in innovation in the sector because profits are locked in.

Pretty much any time price gets decoupled from the market, distortions follow, which the utopists argue can be mended with more/more effective governance, but, in reality, it is merely people trying to eke out happiness however they can, which may mean circumventing government controls no matter how necessary or well-intentioned. This is what man does, has been observed to do since the dawn of time, and will continue to do no matter how much he's told not to. That is why the price theory remains positive rather than normative: it is an observation of what man does, rather than an attempt to change what man does to fit some neat pet theory.

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@dogma

The reconciliation of your definition of the utility ("cop-out") function followed by:

"in the case of most people and soda, a whim." leaves something to be desired.

I'm quite interested in this whole thing as a non-economist, especially in cases where the "rational" decision appears to be to simply exterminate the competition for resources.

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Anonymous Coward

Dr Stephen says "invent some more resources"

Easy. We invent some more.

You could have asked the same eco-alarmist question in 1500, when all the forests were being chopped down. Panic everyone! - what will we use for fuel? Fossil fuels done us nicely, we're at the stage when we can use nuclear and renewables, and we'll never have to worry about an energy crisis again. Similarly with food technology and agricultural production. They may not be evenly distributed, but no one needs to go hungry.

> Nuclear energy is no option. It requires a massive amount of fossil energy to extract fissile grade material, and the amount of easily extractable material is relatively small.

Also, renewable energy can only go so far. Basically in a 200 years of Industry we've burnt a couple of hundred million years worth of stored sunlight stored photosynthetically into coal and oil. That means when fossil fuels are no longer an option, we'll suffer a huge drop in availability of energy.

We could be far far more efficient with energy than we currently are. Also much of what we use is stupidly frivolous. (driving to shops, central heating too high etc etc).

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Anti environmentalism?

I suppose I branded these stories anti-environmentalism due to the slew of recent highly polemic articles in The Register claiming that climate change isn't a really a problem. So I guess that's more climate-skeptic than anti-environmentalism.

By all means have a go at The Guardian when you feel they've got things wrong, as they admittedly do sometimes, however the tone of the article was a bit more "they've said it and they're freakish lefties so it must be wrong"

Of course people should be able to write about and debate these issues, I guess I just find it surprising, and slightly random, for The Reg to be doing it.

I always enjoyed The Reg because it was skeptical about everything - now it seems to have an agenda more akin to Spiked than a predominantly IT/technology website.

I don't mean this to be a rant - I enjoy reading things I disagree with as much as things I do, just surprised to be reading them here.

As for my own opinion, I'm not entirely sure about the solutions, but I do doubt that the business-as-usual-perhaps-with-the-odd-tiny-tweak, which The Reg seems to be vigorously pushing now really is the answer to challenges we face.

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FDR was like BASF.

He didn't make the Depression. He made the Depression Great. A lot of very convincing studies show that the policies he put into play were either blatant attempts at vote-buying or demagoguery that created more problems than it solved. Left to itself, the Depression would have burnt itself out in 2 or 3 years. When the US pushed all their capital out of the country, (taxes on undistributed profits, anyone?) there was no way the economy could rebuild itself.

I do not think that economics will solve all of these problems, but you can't throw your economy into shambles because of a dreaded problem. Maybe the shambles will be worse than the dreaded problem?

It is just too bad that nobody has learned that when you manipulate the economy, that your manipulations can cause more problems than you had before.

The fun part of all this is that it is a discussion of economics by people who are not qualified, in response to an enviromental problem that they are also not qualified. The current standard on GW seems to assume that volume and dogma are acceptable methods of scientific discourse.

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@Breakfast and the Breakfastians

Clearly you lot never lived in the Soviet Union and benefited from the controlled, centrally planned economy channelled to meet a politically expedient goal of the moment.

Because then you would not have dismissed the free market principles as religious propaganda.

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