Monday, October 26, 2009

High Dollar - Manifest Destiny

Article about the falling US $, and our exceptional acceptance of such leads me to believe that the OZ may actually be a good candidate for a future reserve currency.

I think perhaps we could purchase bankrupt far north eastern states rather than expecting them to secede from the US, to make our country's size commensurate with its stability and superior political and financial systems.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Regarding Afghanistan

...commenting on recent political developments regarding ... Afghanistan.

If the West can live with one nuclear Islamist state (Iran), surely it can live with two (a Talibanised Pakistan). Thus there is no need to keep spending blood and treasure in Afghanistan.

I think this is the forming establishment paradigm, we shall see how successful it turns out to be! The West will probably muddle through but various democratic fellow travellers starting with the letter 'I' which are closer to the action may have a less comfortable time of it.

What got me thinking about AfPak was the linear political argument regarding the risk differential between a continuing surge (without explicit timeframe bounds) and an Exit strategy timetable.

My considered view is that we have got to look more at how the blood and treasure is being spent, the effects at the grass roots, and ignore the strategic outcomes for the moment to concentrate on value to the civilian population.

I, for one, think that if the time in Afghanistan's history this current heavy international involvement is seen by the future civilian population as "the good times" that is still a worthy achievement regardless of strategic outcome.

Veterans of Iraq and other global nation building will do better at this than the rough and ready gung-ho soldier of old. My opinion is that we should err on the side of longer deployments of the best possible people and avoid sending in inexperienced platoons just to make up the numbers.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Another Thought

Another thought that had been going through my head in all that time that I wasn't blogging was regarding a vision I had of the future. One was regarding EDR (event data recorders or Black Boxes) for cars. These are starting to become readily available, but really need to be mandated for all new cars to make a considerable improvement in safety and blame attribution in serious accidents. They also ought to be hard to turn off/remove to further improve effectiveness.

Then I had this thought that humans also ought to have black boxes installed.

Potential features:
1) recording vitals before death.
2) recording conversations before death
3) Alerting of body location and time of death (or forced removal of device)

I recommend that this device not be installed on the wrist.
I also recommend that the numerals 666 not be stamped anywhere externally.
And any company with a beast as part of its logo should not develop them.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Pricing Signals

There are really not enough of these in the world. Consider these situations:

1) Person who is on a phone plan does not have a direct cost feedback even if the bill goes up to alarming 6 figure sums.

2) A farmer gets their bill for water, but doesn't know how much their neighbours could have gained by buying it, nor if he could have gained more money selling it than keeping it.

3) Consumers cannot gauge how much petrol is costing them for the car air-conditioner or to get to the petrol station with the cheaper petrol.

4) Polluting coal burning power stations don't know how much local residents would be willing to pay to shut it down or modernise it. Nor how long they would be willing to put up with blackouts to achieve that.

5) Consumers considering whether to hang up their worn clothes or put them in the wash + dryer + ironing. What is the cost/benefit analysis.

At what resolution do pricing signals benefit cost/benefit analysis the most. Would a computer that could make calculations about every single activity throughout your day and have an indicator go off regarding your most inefficient activity be useful?

Would it tell me that (buying and) drinking a can of orange softdrink is the most inefficient because a) it costs a fair amount per calorie
b) They are empty calories that could actually reduce your life expectancy.
c) Sugars will stick to and damage your teeth leading to much higher dental bills.
d) contains preservative 211 which is dodgy at the best of times.
e) contains no caffeine so is ineffective at improving concentration.
f) actually dehydrates you to some extent.
g) is energy intensive to create, can, store and refrigerate, compared to alternatives such as coffee or water.

Suffice to say that any improved pricing signals about anything we care about is a net benefit to resource allocation. Whether it is the environmental cost of the ghg's associated with activity or the amount of money an STD call costs, if there is an efficient market to generate a price which reflects all known information and demand, resources WILL be allocated better. Thus money spent on strategic pre-fire season burn-offs in the outback of Australia may be way, way more efficient than investing the same amount in solar panels or planting trees. Being that people will spend the money anyway, pricing signals cut the wastage for everyone's benefit.

The main danger is not that we will be less efficient ignoring/underutilising cheap fossil fuels, but that we will completely ignore cost/benefit analysis and spend the money in a way which makes us feel good, or which buys our vote without even being in line with the goal central to what the money is being spent on. Thus European countries may use the money on pointless subsidies, Americans may give tax breaks on hand-picked industries. Thus, without even giving themselves a chance at meeting self-imposed targets, they are busy regulating in a way which will reduce their growth prospects.

Various Thoughts

Have had a few different ideas on what to blog on, but no time to knuckle down and actually do it.

* - Putting forth an argument as to why a solid reductions in ghg's via cap and trade will be a boon for those countries exempt due to being underdeveloped.

* - Demonstrating why water allocation trading has great benefits even if it doesn't lead to lower usage - and how this may apply to ghg allocation trading.

* - Expanding on my marconomic stubs to justify panspermia and pre-adaptive evolution.

* - commenting on recent political developments regarding the environment, or Afghanistan.

* - Defining multiple levels of price signals that can make us allocate resources ever more efficiently.