12 Responses to Controversial Truth Episode 11

  1. sonny says:

    From the mid-1980s to 2005, California’s population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.California’s economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. With 12% of America’s population, California has one third of the nation’s welfare recipients.

  2. Tim says:

    A lot of the issue with the cars/fuel/sprawl is the acceptance of an economic model which is not based on the planet’s resources. A good book reference for this is Ecological Economics: Principles and Applications. It advocates an economic model based on resources (too long to get into here) and gets into the differences between what we call development (as related to land, actually should just be called “growth”) and true development.

    Another major player in the continued dominance of the internal combustion engine and fossil fuels is political. Airlines, energy companies, and car makers have tremendous political influence and funds. It is in their interest to continue oil exploration and try to blunt conversion to natural gas or propane (which is expensive).

    At the personal level though, searching for alternative fuels doesn’t solve the problem. The problem is the reliance on the automobile and permeating mindset that a car equals independence. It doesn’t. Being able get somewhere under your own power (walking or biking plus public transport) is freedom, not being tethered to a hunk of steel (with both your ass and your wallet), hoping that it doesn’t break down, worrying about the condition of the roads, keeping it clean, etc.

    A worthwhile analogy would be trying to solve the national health crisis by converting corn and wheat farming equipment to run on natural gas. The problem isn’t the fuel or the vehicle. The problem is what the fuel and the vehicle are used for and the infrastructure and market dynamics caused by reliance on the car for transportation and grain for food.

    A great read for those interested in sprawl and how it came to be, as well as some movements that combat it, is Suburban Nation, by Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberg. It’s fairly old by now but covers the advent of the New Urbanism movement (by the people who started it), and gives some insight into development alternatives.

    I think that technology increases are enabling younger generations to have an impact much faster than ever before and that kids graduating from high school and college right now have a different worldview than those “pulling the strings”. They’re also strapped for cash, so a massive commute is not only not preferrable, it isn’t possible.

    The best alternatives are technologies that existed prior to our gross explosion in size. Trains and buses. Both take relatively little energy and can be very efficient if part of an organized network.

    Here in Texas, within the next few years people will be able to travel between San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston on a train going 100 mph for 1/2 the cost of a plane ticket. Shorter trip, less cost. If used properly, this will take a lot of cars of the road and encourage better public transportation options within each of those cities (so that you can get around once you’re there). Locals benefit from those systems because infill development will gravitate to the transportation hubs. People can spend more money because travel is cheaper and they can get boozed up without worrying about driving. Crazy things like car-free zones are established.

    Overall, this seems to be the smart route. But, what will it take to speed up the process? Big oil bust? Passing time, so that the people who know nothing other than “big lot, big walls, big house, big car” are no longer making the financial decisions?

    I would argue that if everyone took one event or outing per month and decided to only use their legs or public transportation to get them there, it could make a huge difference and speed this whole thing up. That action would help with health and money savings as well. It would be even more effective if you can get a group to do it, and just make it fun and part of the event.

    Thanks guys for the continued podcasts and research. I’ll admit that the explanation that “we’re falling into Malthusian doomsday scenario because there’s a doomsday on the way” and continually tying things back to national debt and inflation tends to make my brain turn off, but what you do provides a great service and necessary platform to encourage people to think for themselves. Cheers.

    • LukeM says:

      THANK YOU for addressing the Malthusian Catastrophe question; however, the first Malthusian catastrophe was put forth in 1798 rather than during the 1960s.

      ENERGY INNOVATION: Over at Stanford’s Hoover Institute there is a frequent video/audio long-form conversational interview series called “Uncommon Knowledge” (worth subscribing to on iTunes).

      In a recent “Uncommon Knowledge” episode, the Chairman of Chief Oil and Gas Trevor Rees-Jones discusses one form of energy innovation … natural gas fracking—what it is and why it is crucial to the country’s future, the challenge of discovering and distributing cheap energy, and why our gas prices will (and should) go up in the future.

      Here’s the link to that particular “Uncommon Knowledge” episode … http://www.hoover.org/multimedia/uncommon-knowledge/125131

      ENERGY ECONOMICS from a Libertarian perspective – check out the “Master Resource Blog”, dedicated to analysis & commentary about both energy markets and public policy. It was founded by a Cato alumni and former Enron employee who has elsewhere critiqued the Enron/Gov’t “climate alarmism and their ‘political capitalism'” distorting the marketplace. Interesting how gov’t inadvertently caused/allowed Enron to happen (grin).

      The Master Resource bloggers maintain energy is the lifeblood of the modern economy – the “master resource” that affects the production and use of all other resources. They argue that the economic rules governing energy are no different from those governing other markets and are thus skeptical about government intervention into energy.

      Here’s a link to their numerous Ethanol boondoggle pages … http://www.masterresource.org/category/ethanol-and-biofuels/

  3. LP Johnson says:

    Good conversation as usual, guys. Not that you will run out of topics any time soon, but I have been thinking a lot about the impact of two-income families on our economy, as well as broken families.
    There is a huge trickle down, and it ties into the cost of college topic. Thank God I payed back student loans between baby 1 & 2, but we are still paying for Husband’s. And after work related expenses and daycare costs (3 kids total), I barely profit from my “career.”
    In Michigan, the government makes single mothers on public assistance fill out job applications and work on their resumes at a government facility (“Michigan Works”) for 40 hours a week, while the government pays for daycare for their children. The fathers pay child support based on their income, not the actual cost of supporting a child.
    I’m not religious, nor a right-wing, “family values” type, but I think the breakdown of the traditional family has had major economic repercussions.

  4. Ryan says:

    Robb, where did you see these miles of vacant properties in Vegas that are cheaper to tear down than to sell? Life time resident of southern Nevada, and this just does not exist. Prices are so low, buyers are competing with investors who are paying cash. Sure there are still some vacant foreclosures, but they are certainly not whole tracts or next to each other. I have been looking to buy rentals, and you have to add 10% onto asking if you are financing at all to even be close to having a chance.

    Things are not that grim here, but I still enjoy the podcast.

  5. linda says:

    So when things get really bad are you going to go down with the ship or do you take a life boat? If you leave the US, where do you go and why?

  6. TS says:

    Love the podcast and everything it stands for. Really great insight – enjoying your perspectives, particularly during this election time when I am forced to listen to everyone around me bitch about politics. Nice to hear some solid knowledge and not just a bunch of wacky emotions. However, while I don’t intend to send your T levels down to those experienced during “THE OCHO”, the pronunciation of “conundrum” (DAVE!) and “reciprocity” (ROBB!) is killing me – and could potentially turn off any new grammar Nazi listeners. Check yourselves before your wreck yourselves, homeboys. Keep up the good work.