inkwell.vue.223 : WorldChanging.com: Another World is Here
permalink #126 of 200: Vinay Gupta (vinaygupta) Fri 3 Sep 04 18:28
    
By the way, doing away with limited liability means this: when a
company goes bankrupt, the investors of that company are liable for all
of its debts. Those who profited from the company while it was alive
pay for it's losses when it goes down. Simple and just, really. It was
only very high risk activities like exploring the new world which
required limited liability, it's not inherently a human right but a
grant to the government to cover investors. We don't need it any more.
  
inkwell.vue.223 : WorldChanging.com: Another World is Here
permalink #127 of 200: Vinay Gupta (vinaygupta) Fri 3 Sep 04 18:32
    
Oh, and finally: liability could be phased in slowly. Say a limit of
$1 per share, rising $1 per share per year until the entire risk is
loaded back on to the investor and the government is out of the
business. That approach allows complete predictability of exposure for
a given investor, which means the level of risk is basically know, and
so the market could ajust slowly rather than simply crashing. Really,
we could do this and not destroy capitalism. We could clean it up,
rebalance it, and make it work for the people again. We'd need to ban
corporate financing of elections to make this happen, of course.
  
inkwell.vue.223 : WorldChanging.com: Another World is Here
permalink #128 of 200: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 3 Sep 04 18:32
    
Vinay, what is it that went away with the "demise of American Democracy"? 
Do you think we were more democratic in the past? How?
  
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permalink #129 of 200: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Fri 3 Sep 04 18:39
    
(fwiw, Taoist worship != Taoist philosophy)
  
inkwell.vue.223 : WorldChanging.com: Another World is Here
permalink #130 of 200: Vinay Gupta (vinaygupta) Fri 3 Sep 04 18:42
    
The control of the State by the people is at a low ebb. The simple
equation of "buying votes through buying advertising" on one hand and
"forced choice between two candidates who were attractive enough to
corporations to attract sponsorship" on the other has deprived us of
realistic political choice. Kerry and Bush represent the same class and
the same long term interests. One is good, one is evil, both are
Pro-Corporation and Pro-Status-Quo.
  
inkwell.vue.223 : WorldChanging.com: Another World is Here
permalink #131 of 200: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 3 Sep 04 18:55
    
Totally agree... but I'm trying to get a sense of what democracy would 
look like, as applied in the U.S., for starters. (We could talk later 
about democracy worldwide). 

I'm not sure that the people ever controlled the state to any great 
extent. In fact, I think the sort of thing that we find most troubling now 
is not new, but more visible.
  
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permalink #132 of 200: Vinay Gupta (vinaygupta) Fri 3 Sep 04 19:06
    
I don't think that The People (tm) ever had absolute control of it.
But back in the day, that didn't matter because *it*was*small*.
Something like 50% of all economic activity in the USA passes through
the government in the form of taxes and government spending. The
apparatus and power of the state in America is huge, huge, huge and
it's unconstiutional power to reach into every aspect of life has grown
without bounds for a hundred years and more. The idea of a relatively
small government which could be monitored and controled by either the
people or other cultural stakeholders (state governments used to have
real power) is so far out of site we wouldn't know it.

Down with the power of the state!

Give people back control of their lives not by trying to control this
immense centralized shibboleth, but by simply handing back to them the
power to make their own decisions: what to put into their body, who to
have sex with, how to save for their own retirement and so on. Get the
state out of everything it possibly can be got out of, including the
business of protecting investors from the results of their decisions.

*THAT* is democracy. Not more voting. MAH RABBLE IS ROUSED!!!!
(laughing, hard)
  
inkwell.vue.223 : WorldChanging.com: Another World is Here
permalink #133 of 200: William H. Dailey (whdailey) Fri 3 Sep 04 21:34
    
I havn't seen worldchangers but if they are like what I've been
reading here then they are way behind reality.  Know this:

The powers that be have been suppressing science for at least the 
last century.  They have wanted to maintain control of energy.
recently, they became aware that global warming is a real threat.

So they are going around gaining control of fossil fuels so they can
shut them down so maybe global warming will go away.  Not wanting to
give up their trillions per year income, they have retrieved an
invention they previously suppressed and stole that will allow
them to continue marketing energy to the world without destroying
the world.  See:

http://www.worldenergymanagement.com

What the rest of us have to do is to bring to bear all of the 
suppressed technology of the last century in competition with them.
Things like flying saucers, faster than light communication and
energy transmission, unlimited free cold energy from the active
vacuum.  

Nikola Tesla was probably the greatest engineer ever to walk the
earth.  He designed the first AC power plant at the honeymoon falls.
He designed AC power transmission.  We are still using them.  He
never stopped designing but most of his work was suppressed.  He was
the first human to build a flying saucer.  He learned from
extraterrestrials when he was experimenting with gravity wave
communication.  He flew it out of his hotel window and back in.

Another great scientist was T. Henry Moray of Salt Lake City.  He
found a way to extract energy from the active vacuum to drive a
motor directly from zero point energy.  It produced eighty horse
power and ran cool as zero point devices do.  This was in 1912.
The patent office, controlled by the powers that be of course,
refused his application.  They dared not admit free energy.

There are many other instances, amoung them the ability to
suppress any desease electronically.

Without the powers that be, we could have been so much more
wealthy, so much more comfortable, so much more free.
  
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permalink #134 of 200: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Sat 4 Sep 04 01:41
    
>  Down with the power of the state! [with examples]

I agree entirely! But in that model how do you justify the pervasive
regulatory schemes that you seem to be somewhat fond of?  One of the
attractions of libertarianism, for me and others, is consistency: the
government does not attempt regulation of social behaviour, NOR does it
attempt to regulate economic behaviour. It's a nice symmetry at the
philosophical level.  Without a State, and a strong State at that, you
cannot make those "large changes" except through voluntary,
market-driven means.  That's the direction I favour, but you appear to
want to make a special case for environmental issues.
  
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permalink #135 of 200: Vinay Gupta (vinaygupta) Sat 4 Sep 04 10:38
    
Michael, to summarize how I feel about that situation, I quote:

> What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it
your entire life, 
> that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it
is, 
> but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.  -
Morpheus, The Matrix

It's a problem that keeps me up 'till 3AM, distracts me from work, and
generally makes my life an intellectual hell. I feel like it's a
massive, profoundly important philosophical problem. One of real
significance to our times. And one which I know of no good approaches
to. There are some bad approaches:

* Tucking environmentalism under the collective-defense clause of a
libertarian social contract
* Incorporating The Earth through some kind of proxy
* Earth As A Legal Person as outlined above

But these are hacks. The central problem of "regulation is effective"
is hard to get away from. And the "market" argument really doesn't
apply to toxicity which is produced in manufacturing and which the
consumer never sees: the chain of cause and effect can be made
arbitrarily long hiding the consequences of consumer choice. It seems
that there is a need for Law in this matter. But don't ask me to
justify it except pragmatically: I can't.
  
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permalink #136 of 200: Dawn Danby (dawndanby) Sat 4 Sep 04 12:03
    
William -

This notion of free energy (from molecules, etc) comes up against two
major barriers: a dearth of accepted scientific data, and intellectual
taboos.  Regardless of any scientific merits, these technologies are
rendered immediately suspect by association with transdimensional
sasquatches, David Icke's reptilian overlords, and other such features
of the Coast to Coast AM universe.  There are also knee-jerk taboos
against touching anything that mentions either conspiracies or
extraterrestrials - SETI being a possible exception to the latter
(Jamais might illuminate further).  

The tension between media-driven 'legitimacy' and scientific fact has
a real impact on environmental reporting.  Redefining Progress'
ecological footprint indicators are always 'conservative estimates' to
maintain their authority.

That said, there has indeed been a suppression of technologies and
scientific findings in some areas - see Alex's overview of contemporary
Lysenkoism: 
http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/000437.html 

> Without the powers that be, we could have been so much more
wealthy, so much more comfortable, so much more free.

What concerns me further is the presumed wisdom of free energy.  At
the moment of invention, technologies are neither good nor evil, but I
know of very few that didn't come with a price.  Nuclear fusion, or any
other source of free energy (arriving just-in-time, of course) could
facilitate an accelerated consumption of limited resources.  We'll
still have to live with the limits discussed further up the thread:
access to nonrenewable resources (topsoil, food) and the human tendency
to use available capacity.  This is why I'm convinced there are no
single magic bullets.  Big developments will still be needed in
science, tech, design, democracy, and regulation.
  
inkwell.vue.223 : WorldChanging.com: Another World is Here
permalink #137 of 200: Dawn Danby (dawndanby) Sat 4 Sep 04 12:18
    <scribbled by jonl Sat 4 Sep 04 12:25>
  
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permalink #138 of 200: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 4 Sep 04 12:42
    
Michael: The liberatarian philosophy favors the greatest possible
individual freedom; hard to argue with that. However my experience tells
me that libertarians can be unrealistic about the balance of freedoms and
the social contract. Libertarianism and solipsism too often intersect.

Nobody's freedom is absolute. To the extent that the freedom of some may 
encroach on the freedom of others, we have 'regulatory schemes' to ensure 
balance. Lenny Bruce had a routine about this... the day you take a dump 
on my lawn is the day I start thinking about 'regulatory schemes' to make 
sure it doesn't happen again. I have my own libertarian tendencies, and 
I've been talking to libertarians for years, but I have yet to hear a 
viable alternative to (some) regulation. The trick is to avoid excessive 
regulation... and who decides what's excessive? It's a constant give and 
take.
  
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permalink #139 of 200: Alex Steffen (alexsteffen) Sat 4 Sep 04 12:57
    
I don't think democracy = personal freedom. Personal freedom is a
component of democratic systems, but democracy's essential truth is
still government of, by and for the people, as opposed to ruling
elites. Regulations are fundamental to that project.

I don't think that the essential problem with America, in regards to
the specifics of this conversation, is lack of personal liberties. The
essential problem is that we have a government to some large degree run
for the benefit of the wealthy, and that corrupts rational
decision-making in thousands of ways large and small. Getting people
back more personal liberties is only tangentially related to fixing
that problem.
  
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permalink #140 of 200: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Sat 4 Sep 04 13:17
    
"Free energy" is sort of a rathole, since it can easily swallow all
conceivable environmental arguments: if you truly have unlimited free
energy, you can create any desired environment out of whatever
building blocks of matter happen to be lying around.  Really, all you
need is hydrogen (which is not exactly uncommon in the universe), and
at least in theory, you can make anything you need from that.  Food,
topsoil, etc., are not "non-renewable" in a free energy environment. 

But really, this is like playing tennis with the net down, and
presuming the existence of world-changing, disruptive technologies
that have been suppressed by shadowy conspiracies probably belongs,
er, elsewhere. 
  
inkwell.vue.223 : WorldChanging.com: Another World is Here
permalink #141 of 200: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 4 Sep 04 13:21
    
Yeah, it's the less shadowy conspiracies that concern me.
  
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permalink #142 of 200: Open Conspiracy Theorist (alexsteffen) Sat 4 Sep 04 13:29
    
Yes, my favorite line on this front has always been "What worries me
most is the thought that the US Government may actually be run by
Congress."
  
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permalink #143 of 200: Alex Steffen (alexsteffen) Sat 4 Sep 04 13:40
    
But since we're talking about the U.S. Congress, democracy and a
bright green future, it's worth asking the question, "If Congress and
the White House were firmly in support of making as rapid a transition
to sustainability as possible, what would we want them to do?"

Quite a leap, I know, given current conditions. But given how central
the U.S. will be in blocking or facilitating the transition to a bright
green future, and given the importance of keeping a "win scenario" in
mind (if only so we don't get caught flat-footed should things go
unexpectedly our way), it seems a worthwhile exercise.
  
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permalink #144 of 200: Alex Steffen (alexsteffen) Sat 4 Sep 04 13:43
    
I'll go first.

Carbon taxes. Rebate the bottom 50% of Federal income tax payments and
replace them with taxes on the creation of CO2.

http://www.redefiningprogress.org/programs/sustainableeconomy/sctm.htm

Okay, your turn.
  
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permalink #145 of 200: Paul Waggoner (jonl) Sat 4 Sep 04 14:14
    
Email from Paul Waggoner:

I would like to second the notion that free energy, should it become
available, might have disastrous consequences.  Imagine how free energy
would transform the possibilities of warfare.  What would the U.S.  
military or NATO do with free energy? What would "the terrorists" do with
free energy?  The weapons applications of free energy would guarantee that
someone, somewhere would eventually come up with something totally awful.  
Mutually Assured Destruction should never become cheap or easily obtained.
  
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permalink #146 of 200: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Sat 4 Sep 04 14:21
    
I think *that* cat is already out of the bag.  I don't think it is
possible (or wise) to organize society on the assumption that WMDs are
exceptionally hard to obtain. They're somewhat hard now but are
getting easier every day. 
  
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permalink #147 of 200: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 4 Sep 04 15:04
    
Alex, re. 144: this is definitely the wrong administration for that 
particular request. *8^)

I assume that we're talking about taxing producers, not consumers?
  
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permalink #148 of 200: Vinay Gupta (vinaygupta) Sat 4 Sep 04 16:13
    
Now we're talking. What a great direction for this thread to go in.

1> Open Intellectual Property pool of easy-to-manufacture, efficienct
consumer devices (refrigerators, CF bulbs, rural solar installations,
TVs, radios and so on) sponsored by the US government, with a technical
assistance program to help uptake. The pool should include both device
designs and factory designs for the production process. Think
"Volkswagon."

Displace as much bad engineering as possible before people even get
started.

2> Feebates. Tax the worst-of-class devices in each category and use
those taxes to offset the cost of the best of class. This can drop out
of things like carbon taxes indirectly, but those total cost of
ownership benefits elude most buyers. Rather, a feebate makes a
difference directly on the sticker price.

Very exciting thread!
  
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permalink #149 of 200: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Sat 4 Sep 04 18:33
    
re: mcb's <140> on the limitations of even "free energy," note that even if
we weren't constrained by energy and could make things wholesale out of
whatever hydrogen we had handy, we'd still be constrained by *time* and
might be able to make enough topsoil or carrots or whatever fast enough.
  
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permalink #150 of 200: Emily J. Gertz (emilyg) Sun 5 Sep 04 06:11
    



I admit I'm totally motivated by recent personal experience on the
following (i.e., not arms-length political theorizing):

1) Tax breaks for home-owners, condo associations and cooperatives (by
which I mean apartment co-ops such as the one I live in in Brooklyn) to
upgrade, retrofit, and otherwise bring best-available green technologies
into and onto domestic structures.

2) Take some of those monies collected for carbon production and put them
to improving the bicycle-commuting infrastructure in metropolitan areas
(would be working on lowering emissions and America's pesky obesity problem
all at once!).

I seem to be Worldchanging's bicycle evangelist, which is funny, 'cause in
general I'm quite scared to ride my bike in NYC!  DC, Philadelphia,
Portland, and a few smaller cities in between, but until recently NYC
completely slayed me.  But I digress.
  

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