Links 1/20/11

Thanks for your kind comments yesterday. Still under the weather but seem to be on the mend, had to postpone a flight till today, so travel will also thin my posting a bit.

What, Me Care? Young Are Less Empathetic Scientific American (hat tip reader Patrick F)

More storms ahead for flood-ravaged Queensland ABC (hat tip reader Skippy)

Bull sharks seen in flooded streets The Chronicle (hat tip reader Skippy)

No Surprises; Good Riddance Columbia Journalism Review (hat tip Ed Harrison). The part that never seems to see the light of day is Lieberman’s role in the 1990s in neutering financial service regulations; see Arthur Levitt’s book Take on the Street for details.

Pillars of boom Houses and Holes (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

Regulators Falling Behind on Implementing Obama Policies Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Union Members Disrupt Mortgage Banksters Meeting in DC (VIDEO) Michael Whitney, FireDogLake

China still fully coupled Walden Bello, Asia Times (hat tip reader Ignacio)

Ecofin discussed a concrete Greece debt restructuring scheme Eurointelligence

Volcker takes aim at long-term investments Financial Times. Volcker is proving to be more effective on this front than I had anticipated, so let’s hope he continues to gain ground.

Policymakers Hesitate with Spongy Loan Brakes Caixin

US Treasury official praises mortgage servicers Reuters. Lordie.

Solar Firms Frustrated by Permits New York Times Reader Fred A, who knows this terrain VERY well, takes big-time exception to this piece:

On cue, NYT joins the whining about regulation. Construction regulation is a collection of local fiefdoms. This is mirrored by the ‘industry,’ which TRUST ME, is even more fragmented and inefficient than inspection, although the worst of the inefficiencies have been purged by the Recession. The feds couldn’t do ANYTHING to change this situation short of abolishing ALL building inspection. There have been plenty of attempts to rationalize the regulation process, with some success. Local amendment provisions are included in all codes. The permitting and inspection process has slowed in all but the most wealthy jurisdictions on account of budget cuts. The last statement about windows of inspection is full of lies–it’s been years in the SF Bay Area since most jurisdictions allowed for a 2 hour window for inspections and when the phone company gives 2 hour windows for an appearance, I’ll buy a full mass at a cathedral. Things may have been better in LA, etc, but that individual reminds me of the folks who lied @ the Roth IRS hearings.

‘An Economic Philosophy That Has Completely Failed’ Bill Black, Huffington Post (hat tip reader Tim)

Antidote du jour:
Screen shot 2011-01-19 at 11.28.51 PM

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  1. rjs

    a quick search, out of curiousity:

    Iron ore prices soar to record high‎ – Iron ore prices have hit an all-time high as supply disruptions in India, the world’s third-largest exporter of the steelmaking commodity, tighten the market just as Asian steelmakers rush to buy ahead of the Chinese New Year.The spike will add further inflationary pressures to the global economy as the cost of the commodity filters into steel prices and, ultimately, into the cost of everyday goods such as cars and washing machines.
    Pakistani cement sector feeling the heat of soaring coal price -Dawn reported that not as much now because of previous inventory build up, Pakistan’s cement sector is likely to feel the heat of the soaring international prices of coal, going forward. Global coal prices continue to climb, already 34% up since June 2010. The two major reasons listed by market watchers were temporary supply shocks from Australia and a higher demand in China.

  2. Dirk77

    Yves, take your time coming back. While your apparent work habits show that you have a tougher constitution than most, everyone has their limits. Hope you feel better.

  3. steak

    I really don’t like this new clickthrough structure. one of my favorite things traveling was to quest for just a whisp of wifi for my ipod (which abroad is usually all i can find), load up this site, and because all the articles were there in full i could spend an hour or more reading the one page that loaded. that is no more, which is epic fail next time i am in need of current reading material and away from the homebase. still, great job with the content of the site.

    1. wunsacon

      Yves, I agree with steak.

      Are you trying to encourage RSS readers to click thru to the site to generate ads? If so, is there a way to do that while leaving the website the way it was?

      (Well, you gotta do what you gotta do. So, ignore my mild complaint if you have to. Obviously.)

  4. russell1200

    I work in electrical construction. I have a state unlimited electrical license. I will state upfront that the code provisions within NFPA 70 National Electric Code (not universily adopted in all juristicitions) is somewhat broken up and ever changing as the technology changes.


    Various out of industry actors are always trying to get into the construction business and re-invent it.

    Unfortunately construction is a business where there is a lot of asymetries in information, skill, knowledge etc. at almost every level. Thus a poster child for careful regulation.

    Private equity funds and the like were buying up commercial construction funds and trying to flip them prior to the downturn. Many of them were hammered before the downturn even really got started (for industry unique reasons, slowing cash flow can really show you quickly who is swiming without a bathing suit on). Needless to say the long downturn was not helpful.

    Now they have something else to complain about.

  5. Gentlemutt

    Get healthy and take your time coming back, Yves.

    While you were away our dear president invited Lloyd Blankfein to his fete for the Chinese president. Not much hope for next few years… the fool can’t make even one example out of any of the army of wall street scoundrels who have sh*t all over this society.

  6. DownSouth

    Re: “What, Me Care? Young Are Less Empathetic” Scientific American

    Jamil Zaki says:

    Still, we are not doomed to become a society of self-obsessed loners.

    We are if the neoliberals and neoclassical economists have anything to do with it.

    1. anon

      Less empathetic, or just numb? If you watch the news, pick up a newspaper, or even just look at what’s going on around you, if you get too empathetic, after awhile you *have* to become numb.

      Otherwise, if you don’t, it becomes hard to get out of bed in the morning and/or everyone takes advantage of you.

  7. ChrisTiburon

    Eeyore isn’t going to run again? That’s nice.
    Thanks to him we had 8 years of Bush and all the
    attendant disasters. What the hell were the
    Democrats thinking when they latched that
    mangey donkey onto Gore’s back?

  8. bsg

    Re empathy decline

    One cause not looked at in the article is empathy fatigue. When a person hears the same sad stories over and over and over and over again, its emotional impact lessens. Sprinkle on a few cases of hyperbole or outright lying and a person’s cynicism will build up as a mental callous. Heart strings can only be pulled so far.

    1. DownSouth


      As Amitai Etzioni explains in The Moral Dimension: Towards a New Economics:

      More is at stake than a paradigm that drives some of its advocates to conceptual acrobatics in order to protect its we-need-no-normative-factors assumptions; there are educational effects on the youth and on the public at large. Neoclassicists each year expose millions of high-school and college students to a paradigm that, as Solow puts it, “underplays the significance of ethical judgments both in its approach to policy and [in] its account of individual and organizational behavior.” Neoclassical economic textbooks are replete with statements such as “…the rational thing to do is to try to gain as much value as I can while giving up as little value as I can.” …

      An effort to protect the mono-utility assumption leads to a discussion that equates the Bible and dope as two consumer goods (Kamerschen and Valentine), while Walsh treats as interchangeable relations to a bottle of booze (Jack Daniels) and to a person (Marina). Gifts are depicted by Alchian and Allen as “equivalent to a sale at prices lower than the market-clearing price,” and children are viewed (Becker) as “durable consumer goods.”

      After stating that it may seem immoral to classify children as akin to cars, houses, and machinery, Becker [Nobel laureate and professor at the University of Chicago where he holds joint appointments with the departments of economics, sociology, and the Booth School of Business] proceeds to do the same on page 173: “As consumer durables, children are assumed to provide ‘utility.’ “ More expensive children are called “higher quality” infants, compared to Cadillacs, and so on. One wonders what is the effect on the attitude of potential parents to children, if they are systematically taught to think about their offspring as a trade-off to other “goods,” such as cars?

      “Economist’s way of thinking…involves, in many cases…a sort-of cultivated hard-nosed crassness towards anything that smacks of ‘higher things of life,’ “ write Brennan and Buchanan. A study by Schwartz suggests that dueling is an effective way of settling disputes; Landes questions whether the costs of preventing hijacking are worth the expenditures; and Posner shows it is more efficient to buy and sell babies in an open market than it is to regulate adoption, which causes a black market.

      An empirical study of the educational effects of neoclassical teachings might well show that the students become somewhat more self-oriented and pleasure-seeking than they were before they were so exposed, just as they become more rational in their purchase and investment decisions. Such effects are evident in a series of free-ride experiments conducted by Maxwell and Ames. In eleven out of twelve experimental runs most participants did not free ride and contributed from 40 percent to 60 percent of their resources to a public good (the “group pot”). However, a group of economics graduate students contributed only an average of 20 percent. And while the other subjects were motivated by a strong sense of fairness, and a near unanimous definition of what it is, economics students refused to define the term, or gave very complex answers, and those who did respond stated that making little or no contribution was fair…

      Beyond the effects on students there are effects on the public mentality. Here, too, the prevailing economic approach to moral values tends to debase them. Goodin, Walzer, and Kelman all point to the fact that society sets aside certain areas as “sacred,” and that to make the public think about them in terms of costs and benefits “secularizes” them, stripping them from their special moral standing, and thus ultimately causes them to be treated the way neoclassicists say they are. For example, to create markets for rights (as part of an incentive scheme), say, selling pollution rights, undermines the taboos against such behavior; it normalizes it, and hence makes it less costly and more common.


      In short, because the neoclassical paradigm is part of the modern mentality, and not merely an academic field, it affects the way people see their world and themselves, and the way they behave.

      1. bsg

        I’m not saying empathy fatigue is the only reason for the overall decline, but it IS a reason. When a person realizes they are being emotionally manipulated, a consequence can be that person surpressing their empathy.

        1. DownSouth

          Well empathy fatigue certainly IS the reason that Eichmann invoked, but the jury didn’t buy it.

          As Hannah Arendt explains in Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil:

          One last question, the most disturbing of all, was asked by the judges, and especially by the presiding judge, over and over again: Had the killing of Jews gone against his conscience?


          This was important, because the murderers were not sadists or killers by nature; on the contrary, a systematic effort was made to weed out those who derived physical pleasure from what they did… Hence the problem was how to overcome not so much their conscience as the animal pity by which all normal men are affected in the presence of physical suffering…

          Eichmann’s defective memory where Himmler’s ingenious watchwords were concerned may be an indication that there existed other and more effective devices for solving the problem of conscience. Foremost among them was, as Hitler had rightly foreseen, the simple fact of war. Eichmann insisted time and again on the “different personal attitude” toward death when “dead people were seen everywhere,” and when everyone looked forward to his own death with indifference: “We did not care if we died today or only tomorrow, and there were times when we cursed the morning that found us still alive.”


          The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together, for it implied—-as had been said at Nuremberg over and over again by the defendants and their counsels—-that this new type of criminal, who is in actual fact hostis generis humani, commits his crimes under circumstances that make it well-nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he is doing wrong.


          [Y]ou said you had never acted from base motives, that you had never had any inclination to kill anybody, that you had never hated Jews, and still that you could not have acted otherwise and that you did not feel guilty. We find this difficult, though not altogether impossible, to believe; there is some though not very much, evidence against you in this matter of motivation and conscience that could be proved beyond reasonable doubt. You also said that your role in the Final Solution was an accident and that almost anybody could have taken your place, so that potentially almost all Germans are equally guilty. What you meant to say was that where all, or almost all, are guilty, nobody is. This is an indeed quite common conclusion, but one we are not willing to grant you. And if you don’t understand our objection, we would recommend to your attention the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, two neighboring cities in the Bible, which were destroyed by fire from Heaven because all the people in them had become equally guilty… In other words, guilt and innocence before the law are of an objective nature, and even if eighty million Germans had done as you did, this would not have been an excuse for you.

          1. Eagle

            I think Eichmann would have been more convincing if Germany was not fascist dictatorship – there weren’t a whole lot of avenues for expressing displeasure, to the extent that the average Josef even knew what was going on.

            Although what this has to do with whether empathy fatigue is real or not is anyone’s guess. Beyond of course demagoguery: “people who believe this are mini-Eichmanns!”

  9. DownSouth

    Re: “An Economic Philosophy That Has Completely Failed” Bill Black, Huffington Post

    Bill Black said:

    The titles of both of these deregulatory acts included the word “modernization” and the great lie was that the acts they were repealing were archaic.

    Would the true modernization please stand up?

    In Cosmopolis Stephen Toulmin begins the clock on modernism in the first part the 17th century. Modernism, he asserts, grew out of the “17th-Century Counter-Renaissance.” Its core feature was the “stability, hierarchy, and coherence” of the “class-structured, sovereign nation-states.” It sought to portray this social order as “rational,” the inequalities being justified as “the Nature of Things” or “the Will of God.”

    Using this definition of modernism, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations could be appropriately described as the economic bible of the modernists.

    Amongst the Founding Fathers, the conservative Federalists Alexander Hamilton and John Adams would be modernists. As Kevin Phillips explains in Wealth and Democracy:

    The debate over the compatibility of wealth and democracy is as old as the republic. From the start, concern that the egalitarian-seeming United States of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries might develop wealth concentrations to match Europe’s was a worry for many but also the guarded hope for an important few.

    Alexander Hamilton, who favored both a financial class and an aristocracy, would have cherished the possibility of such an elite. John Adams, who thought aristocracies inevitable, would not have been surprised.

    Others were seeking our “escape from modernism,” as Toulmin put it. Here’s Phillips again:

    Thomas Jefferson brooded that such a danger could flow all too easily from urban growth, finance, and commerce. Richard Price, the British reformer friendly to the American Revolution, warned the new nation against foreign banks and finance; and Alexis de Tocqueville, in 1837, hedged his praise for democracy in America with the concern that the new industrial elite, “one of the harshest that ever existed,” would bring about the “permanent inequality of conditions and aristocracy.”

    Phillips goes on to describe “Hamilton’s use of government banking and debt to reward a wealthy elite.” This, however, “trespassed on the Revolutionary credo” and “when the elections of 1800 gave Jefferson twenty of the two states’ combined twenty-seven electoral votes, the Virginian beat John Adams, and no Federalist ever again held the presidency.”

    Unfortunately the American saga doesn’t end there, and the bankers and financiers were eventually to triumph spectacularly. Here’s how Lawrence Goodwyn describes it in The Populist Moment:

    The narrowed boundaries of modern politics that date from the 1896 campaign encircle such influential areas of American life as the relationship of corporate power to citizen power, the political language legitimized to define and settle public issues within a mass society yoked to privately owned mass communications and to privately financed elections, and even the style through which the reality of the American experience—-the culture itself—-is conveyed to each new generation in the public and private school systems of the nation. In the aggregate, these boundaries outline a clear retreat from the democratic vistas of either the eighteenth-century Jeffersonians or the nineteenth-century Populists.


    After McKinley’s impressive victory in 1896, these patterns became fully consolidated within the next generation of the Progressive era and proved adequate during a brief time of further testing during the New Deal. They have remained substantially unquestioned since, and broadly describe the limits of national politics in the second half of the twentieth century. The third party movement of the Populists became, within mainstream politics, the last substantial effort at structural alteration of hierarchical economic forms in modern America.

    Why didn’t the rickety superstructure of Modernism and its offspring—-classical economic theory—-not crumble in the 1920s and 30s? After all, as Toulmin points out, most of the “timbers” that underpinned Modernism had been knocked out from under it by 1910. Here’s Toulmin’s explanation of why they did not:

    Historiographically, we needed to explain the renewed investment in rationalism in the 1920s and 1930s; and we can answer that question once again by looking at the conditions of the time—-a breakdown of confidence in the political order of Europe and a concurrent crisis in accepted ideas about Nature. What the Peace of Westphalia did to create the political pattern of Modernity in 1648, the First World War destroyed. From 1920 on, it was hard to deny the need for a new political and diplomatic order, which no longer focused exclusively on the unfettered sovereignty of nation-states: after the butchery in the trenches of the First World War, the class-based structure of modern society aroused cynicism as much as loyalty. Cosmologically, too, the constructive work of the 1600s fell apart after 1900: Einstein’s relativity and Planck’s quantum theory were the death of classical Newtonian physics [upon which classical economics is modeled]… The rationalism of the inter-War years simply replaced Newton by Einstein, cast Russell in the role that Descartes gave to Euclid, and substituted the dream of a logically unified science for the cosmopolis of Modernity.

    The crisis in European affairs precipitated by “the War to End War” thus generated the same twin responses as that of the late 17th century: in both political and scientific respects, it seemed, “stability” could be restored only if people were again ready to start from scratch and build up new ideas and institutions—-even a new cosmopolis—-to replace those that were lost.

    However, the new cosmopolis is an inferior copy of the first cosmopolis. Here’s Toulmin again:

    Second time around, however, this recipe was more desperate. For Descartes, geometry was not “pure” (i.e. formal) mathematics alone, but a science of spatial relations, dealing with Space as encountered in experience; so he could appeal to Euclid’s axioms as the “foundations” of a physics intended to make comprehensive sense of all material nature. When philosophers put Russell and Whitehead’s logic to the same service in the 1920s, however, David Hilbert had long since shown that pure mathematics can be viewed as a body of formal operations that does not refer to our experience of nature; so it was a little bizarre for them to treat the axioms of “Principia Mathematica” as the “foundations” of an empirical natural science.

    So what’s the bottom line to all this? “Modernization” is not misused in the titles of The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 or The Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000. Both bills are quintessentially “modern.”

    1. Ellen Anderson

      I always enjoy your comments. What is the opposite of modernism? Jacques Barzun calls it ‘primitivism’ I think, but that has a nasty ring to it.

      1. DownSouth

        Toulmin uses the phrases “escape from modernism” or “post-modernity.” Here’s how he describes it:

        By 1914, then, the intellectual and artistic ground was ready for a revival of Renaissance humanism: for a reintegration of humanity with nature, a restoration of respect for Eros and the emotions, for effective transnational institutions, a relaxation of the traditional antagonism of classes, races and genders, an acceptance of pluralism in the sciences, and a final renunciation of philosophical foundationalism and the Quest for Certainty.

        1. attempter

          No, “modernism” is nothing but technologically-empowered romanticism.

          Although that’s actually unfair to the original romanticism, which was naive but well-meaning and basically innocent. Today’s romanticism is just as childish, but far more vicious and nihilistic. It’s the difference between a child who plays with toys and a child who tortures animals (and smaller childern).

  10. howard hughes blues

    off-topic but why does natural gas usually go up or down contrary to oil, gasoline, etc. Does anybody know?

    1. DownSouth

      Talking BTU, a barrel of oil has about 6x the heat content as an MCF of natural gas. Therefore, based strictly on heat content, an MCF of natural gas should sell for the current price of oil (about $92) divided by 6, or about $15/MCF.

      Natural gas, however, is currently selling for only about $4.50/MCF.

      Natural gas is not portable like oil. It can be liquefied into LNG, but both that process and the de-liquification process are expensive, plus there’s not a whole lot of infrastructure in place in the U.S. to do this. The only other way to transport it is through pipeline. The natural gas market the U.S. is therefore pretty much limited to the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

      For the same non-portability reasons, natural gas is not as good a transport fuel as diesel or gasoline. This limits its potential uses.

      Currently there’s a surfeit of natural gas because of the application of improved technology: horizontal drilling and massive frac jobs.

      The demand for natural gas got hammered by the GFC.

      In the North American market, there’s nothing equivalent to OPEC to enforce supply reductions.

  11. howard hughes blues

    That’s all good info but doesn’t explain why, on a daily basis, natural gas usually goes the opposite direction of oil. btw what happened to Boone Pickens’ plan to convert cars to run on natural gas? It’s not completely non-portable, either–it can be put in tanks and I’ve seen vehicles that run on propane.

  12. Cynthia

    Dr. Peter Morici, Economist and Professor of Business at the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, does an excellent job explaining how as well as why the US economy and its workers are getting screwed by US trade relations with China (listen to link below). This is mainly happening because China’s economy, in particular its manufacturing sector, is heavily subsidized by the state.

    Right now top-executives and shareholders of US corporations like GE and GM are profiting enormously from America’s screwball relationship with China. You can see this in the way the US stock market has surged back to pre-Lehman crash levels, despite the US unemployment rate still hovering in the double digits.

    But it’s only a matter of time before the Chinese start subsidizing their own corporations in order to out-compete US corporations. This has happened to Gamesa, a Spanish company that specialized in building wind turbines, as Yves Smith mentioned in one of her posts yesterday, and it will soon happen to many US corporations.

    I think what is also likely to happen is that the Chinese will simply kick US corporations out of their country. So when the Chinese do get around to either out-competing US corporations like GE and GM or kicking them out of their country, the US will be too broke to bail them out again.

  13. ScottS

    Re: “What, Me Care?”

    I find the study useless. Self-reported poll? Please.

    Ask a rich person how empathetic they are, and they’ll sing their own praises. Bill Gates thinks he’s pretty generous, but, proportionally and in terms of lifestyle, he sacrifices less than the average welfare recipient. So what’s his self-reported empathy index? Probably a lot higher than it should be.

    I’m guessing the lower a person’s self-reported empathy score, the more aware (realistic) they are about their concern for others. They’ve raised their own bar, and fall short of that. We need an objective measurement of empathy to know for sure.

    1. Mr. Hao R. Yu

      My beef is that modern people don’t ask ‘How are you?’ often enough.

      Non-modern people were better at that.

      1. bsg

        I get asked “How are you?” quite often… then I get a sales pitch from a 3rd party natural gas provider or some other service I do not want.

  14. emca

    The NYT’s article on solar panel costs in relation to permit requirements in lacking in the least. Fred A. has it right, but that’s only part of the story.

    The basis of the article is a “new study” by the industry purportedly showing that reduced costs can be achieve through ‘streamline’ regulation (the report is similar to having inside businesses as Goldman et. al. making recommendations to streamline financial regulations), supported by anecdotal evidence of panel installers.

    Unfortunately, the picture ain’t as painted:

    Much is made of the lower cost per watt of residential solar installation in Germany. The stated assumption is that if the U.S. would streamline its permit process as per Germany, costs would be substantially reduced. Unfortunately there is this line from the footnoted Norton-Rose report on installation costs in Europe:

    “In most regions (Länder), the exemption (reduction in Federal and Regional standards) applies as long as the installation fully integrates with the roof or the façade. Regrettably the type of exemption varies from region to region. Typical limits in some regions are changes to the maximum height of the building, impact on neighbors’ land (dazzling caused by the solar panels), or respecting mandatory distance areas. Additionally, conflicts may arise with regulations which govern the protection of historic monuments as rooftop solar installations may change the appearance of a building and therefore have an impact on the character of a listed building or buildings.”

    Evidentially regional variation of regulatory requirements is also a feature of the German landscape, but the next line also adds this statement:

    “The downside of not having to apply for a permit is that the authorities do not issue any official confirmation that the new installation is in compliance with relevant laws so that the risk of non-compliance remains with the owner throughout the lifetime of the solar installation.”

    Would this be acceptable in California; in anywhere in the litigious U.S.? Would homeowners want this?

    Germany, who as far as I know does not have as much seismic activity as certain parts of CA. and on that point alone would be suspect to comparison, is nevertheless not the weakest arguments of this document.

    The core of the report is the $2516 estimated increase in costs due to regulation for a typical installation. How did the industry arrive at that figure? Appendix B of the “The Impact of Local Permitting..” provides an answer.

    The largest single expense item in the breakdown is “Lower close rates from higher costs” (at $400 per install). What does this mean? It means that if there were no permit costs an 8% reduction in costs would translate into a 16% increase in sales (industry methodology). Such a decrease would supposedly offset an installer’s $2500 (?) marketing costs per installation by $400. The reduced price is solely a factor of a reduction in costs the homeowner has to pay for being convinced to buy product, most particularly from a specific source. (If I chop my marketing by $400, can I not match this cost of eliminating (all?) permitting costs?)

    Other cost savings revolve around actual permit requirements but are not necessary pertinent to the sum given. By that I mean a “Structural Calculations” ($176) in 43%, fee occurs in only 18% of the jurisdictions, a “Smaller system due to fire setbacks” ($202) in 11% an “Unable to install supply side tap” ($167) in only 4%!

    What this chart says is that in over 50% of the cases, disregarding the dubious “sales and marketing costs”, the additional direct costs for permitting will be be approx. $1,000. In southern CA., add $176 seismic costs (a given, sorry no jurisdiction can uphold its state mandates without) for less than $1,200 per install. This is all according to the industry’s own data. The $2516 sum figure is an maximum, the individual occurrence not realized in 98.6% of installs.

    All this number bickering also overshadows one particular point, the building process as a whole has as long as I can remember, has been subject to the issues raised by this NYT article. Building permit regulation is a state condition supplemented by local jurisdictions. Solar installation should not be an exception…and I won’t even get into NIMBYism or CC&R’s.

    While I’m a supporter of residential solar, I don’t see special rules as outline, making solar panel installation more profitable through diminished regulation are desirable or even practical. The NYT article is industry position, no more.

    1. Gentlemutt

      Agreed with emca that the NYTimes piece is merely industry lobbying.

      Furthermore, the notion that the Solar Industry is complaining about government inefficiencies is…rich. Solar in the USA would pretty much not exist were it not for taxpayer support, full stop. Solar is not — yet — economically attractive to customers without huge taxpayer support. Ask pretty much any student at MIT.

      Specifically, the solar industry spokesman for this piece, a Mr. Burton, summarizes his complaints by telling the Times,”This is in essence a hidden tax on solar.”

      The NY Times piece, and Mr. Burton’s statement, are reminiscent of the howler the Times published 15+ years ago when an over-enthusiastic journalist wrote, not long after Desert Storm I, glowingly about “veterans of the prison system,” as if doing time were somehow equivalent to serving one’s country.

      Spend the money on solar research with prizes for success; heck, spend some money to research more efficient government permitting processes nationwide. Do not give more subsidies to the new crop of solar industry welfare kings just because they are unhappily getting rich off the taxpayer more slowly than they desire.

      Mr. Burton seems to have unintentionally voiced, once again, an ironic convergence of interests: professional corporate welfare lobbyists arguing for smaller government.

  15. Pau Repstock

    Perhaps the question should have less of an individual context and more of a global one. How well can any of us be? Whether we are Canadian or Chinese, American or Russian: we have one thing in common. We are sentinent human beings whose future is being stripped away by a vicious and amoral cabal managed by a conspiracy between governments and corporations.

    The goals of this Cabal are clear. So to is our only possible response. We must all, in solidarity, reject the influence of this numerical minority in determining the future of the world. Do not delude yourselves that you are in any way exempt from their actions. If a person has not yet been impacted by the actions of the Cabal, it is only because they are still occupied with people further up the queue. Unless you inhabit the very highest levels of the decision making structure, you too are doomed.

    If you stood amoung others, in a row at the edge of a ditch, watching people further up being machine gunned, would you regret not having resisted earlier? Be honest with youself. Am I exagerating? How are you supporting the Corporate/Government Machinery? Have you helped a freind?

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