Automation eliminates jobs. If programmers all the sudden wrote code that eliminated all jobs, the world would not fall apart. It would be arguably better. Unemployment is not the enemy, theoretically.
Let's run some numbers on this poor landlord scenario...
Let's base this on my household numbers. Let's say you buy a house for $300,000. You rent it out for 30 years and then sell it. The mortage, taxes and insurance come to $2,000/month and you get $2,000/month from your renters.
Let's figure in these yearly costs using $30/hour as your pay:
Total yearly costs: $4,800
Yearly costs per month average: $400
The value of my house tripled in the 15 years before I bought it. Let's say the value of this house triples in 30 years. So you sell it for $900,000. Let's take out $25,000 for closing costs. You get $875,000 at the end of the deal. Multiply the yearly costs by 30 and you get $144,000. Subtract that from your profit and you make $731,000. Divide that by 30 years and you get $24,366. Since we already paid you a salary, this amount is pure profit. You make $24,366 for doing essentially doing nothing.
It is common knowledge that people get rich off of real estate. Sure, this would be a fairly distressed house at the end of this. You may not get that much for it. But even if you cut your balance sheet profit in half, you still make $12,183/year for doing nothing. It is an investment though. You don't get the money out of it until it is all done. If you didn't have investment money to start with, you'd be taking out loans and paying interest and that interest will cut into your profit. And you technically aren't just sitting on your ass, there is a little bit of effort and risk here.
I still insist that the person in this scenario is rich compared to the regular wage earner. Getting any profit is better than having credit cards and paying interest. So how does this relate to the virus? Loan forgiveness? A Star Trek world without money? Us and Them?
Well, I'm obviously too sensitive to do proper campaigning. I think the platform I'm running on is clear enough. Anyway. I'm not quite sure where this is going to go now. I'm into this blogging. I'll always be into the climate change cause. They have been saying in the news this week that global CO2 emissions dropped 17% in April. Wow! They also say that it isn't going to matter in the big scheme of things. My gut feeling is that by having everyone continue to work from home who can, we can keep half of those savings. It's what I've been saying all along. We need to work from home if we can and live locally. It's not a scheme to wreck the economy or take away personal freedom. It's simple math and common sense. We need to give up a little bit of luxury if we are going to fight climate change.
I'm prepared for an embarrasing loss in the election tomorrow, but what do I care? The 4040 plan is in effect! It is 6pm on a Monday and I just got home from walking my dog. The express commuter bus from Portland drove by and there was one person on the bus. A couple minutes later, the normal bus from the city, the 54 line went by. There were 2 or 3 people at most on that bus. Imagine it. 4 people max coming from the city during rush hour on a Monday.
I was talking with my neighbor the other day. He said that him and his wife normally spend $180/month on gas. Wow! And then he said that in April this year, they only spent $20 in gas. Sure, a lot of people are out of work, but the machine still runs! Of course I can't take credit for this change, but it is what I was suggesting. We Moved the Needle and Flattened the Curve. The virus looks like it is sticking around and hopefully we learn how to keep some of these carbon savings. At the very least, we all lived through a time when the carbon savings actually happened. Sure, money and food distribution are disrupted. But on the whole, society still functions.
What is work?
Work gives us something to do. Working for someone else can push us in a direction that we may not otherwise go in. Work pays the bills. Ultimately, paying the bills and having the things we need is what really matters. That need drives us to our jobs every day.
What really matters though is production. If all the jobs disappeared but we could still pay the bills and had everything we needed, it wouldn't matter so much. We would still need to occupy our time. We'd invent things to do and that might still be labeled as work. Production.
I'm certainly not suggesting the government write a blank check and then everyone can not work. Some jobs, a lot of jobs, can't be done by machines. If some people are working, is it right for other people to not be working? Is that fair? What is fair compensation? Who gets the bigger homes? The better cars?
It's easy to get everyone scared about losing their jobs. That's how Trump got elected. Afterall, paying the bills is all that really matters. But there is a bigger picture. If we invent wasteful jobs for people to do simply so they can pay their bills, that isn't good for climate change. It may be better if they were not doing all that activity.
This evening they say the US has 88,507 COVID-19 deaths so far. If we simply multiply that out for a full year considering that the virus has run for 3 months so far (FEB 15th - MAY 15th), we get 354,028 deaths. Much more leathal than the flu. Why would we not expect this? Shouldn't it be even higher? We've been under a stay at home order most of this time. It doesn't look like the virus is in any way seasonal.
The wiring of an idea factory.
I think Elizabeth Warren had a bead on the problem with The Two Income Trap. I think Mr. Money Mustache has the solution and I'm trying to offer a similar solution.
I'm not an overly patriotic person, but I did grow a sense of pride being in a US Navy patriotic unit. I see becoming a congressman as having a service duty to it. I can think of more enjoyable ways to spend the remainder of my career. But I would feel proud walking the halls of congress and doing my part. It would be fulfilling. I've got to work anyway. It's an acceptable trade off.
I'm glad I got involved in politics. The writing and thinking has been a blast! It was a financial hardship, but I have to say it was worth the money. I'm a better person and have a better world view. It's easy to feel like a fool in politics. I find myself saying "Yikes!" a lot!
I call it Rand's Law. If worse comes to worse, armed with a food stamp card and the library, you can reeducate yourself into a new career.
Isn't this the first step in helping the homeless? I had a food stamp card when I was on the streets. At the time, you weren't really allowed to have one if you were homeless. I've heard that recently it is even more so. I made less than $5 total by pan handling over the course of a year being on the streets. Honestly, without a food stamp card, starvation or a hunger strike was seriously on the table. I'm glad it didn't come to that and that I was able to educate myself into a career that allowed me to buy a nice house.
When you make a burger at home, you start the grill, take a frozen burger out of the freezer or spend 30 seconds forming a patty. You put it on the grill, wait 5 minutes, flip it and wait another 5 minutes. You take it off the grill and put it on a bun. Maybe you slice a tomato and put some condiments on it. The whole process takes less than 15 minutes and most of the time is waiting.
When you make a curry, you can easily spend the first 10-15 minutes chopping vegetables and measuring out spices. Then you stir fry a saucepan for 10 minutes, add some water or coconut milk and boil it for another 10-20 minutes. The whole process can take 45 minutes to an hour and a lot of the time you are actively doing something.
I love a good burger. Taste wise, they are about equal. The curry can be better. It depends on what you are in the mood for though. Burgers can be just as tasty as a good curry.
As far as the planet goes, the burger is awful. Some reports say that it takes 17 times more land, pound per pound, to produce beef over vegetables. Cows fart which produces methane which I believe reports say is 40 times more of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
If you decide to go to a fast food place to get a burger instead of making a curry at home, there is a whole addition of carbon expenditures. A restaurant needs to be built. People use powered transport to get to work. You need to have a car to get there. You burn gas getting there as do the employees. All this spent fuel has a cost that you end up paying. You get the social interaction of speaking to the worker at the drive through window. You get the fun of driving the vehicle. Flying down the street at 45 miles per hour in a $35,000 machine. Feeling the wind. Seeing all the other people on the road. There is fun in this and it does come with a significant cost to you personally and a much larger carbon hit for the planet. When you think about it though, the fun part about it is the driving, not talking to the guy at the window!
If you are like me and arguably 40% of other workers, you can negotiate a deal where you work from home. You'll probably wind up driving 40% less without even changing anything else in your life. You save at least an hour a day by not driving. If you decide to go without a car at all, you'll save $5,000/year, and be able to take an extra month off from work every year. If you make burgers at home, you may even save some time that you would have spent driving to the fast food place. You will miss out on the fancy car rides, flying down the street like a race car driver. You'll miss an awkard interaction with a minimum wage worker.
If you make curries at home while working from home, you have still save time over driving to work. You'll be much healthier than eating a burger every day and will most likely be much less of a burden on the health care system.
Much less fast food workers will be needed as well as healthcare workers. Those people would be out of a job, but no measurable productivity would be lost. They were not neccesary. The $35,000 car was also deemed not neccesary as was working a month of every year to afford it. All those people are now out of a job too, but again, nothing is lost. That work was simply busy work. It can been seen that all it was doing was providing the joy of flying down the street in the car, wasting energy. The feel of money. The experience of it all. And made everyone more busy providing that experience.
You get the point. Is it really social interaction that is lost? Sure you do miss the social interaction at the office. That social interaction is very real. I'm not saying that we should give up all these nice experiences. I love burgers and driving cars! Who doesn't? But there is this inconvienent truth about it. It does have a huge cost to the planet. If it didn't have a cost to the planet, I simply would not be here with this message. I'd still think is was silly, but to each their own. But there is a cost to the planet. How much better is this whole experience going to be if the car was electric? Sure, you still get the exhilleration of flying down the street to the fast food place, but there is still a huge carbon hit when compared to eliminating the trip entirely.
This is my point, this is why I'm running for office. I don't expect to make this experience illegal. People need to be aware of what is really going on here. I'm into it for the bully pulpit of it. The platform from which to speak. This campaign may not work, but I'm doing my best to be in it with this message. I cannot do this alone. If this is going to be succesful, people, like yourself, are going to have to spread the word and/or click the donate button.
Modern America is literally built upon this inefficient, unhealthy, fast food model. Think about that when you cast your vote.
I remember the 90's. It was the dot-com boom and Bill Clinton was president. I played trombone with the Navy for him once. He was known for balancing the budget in Arkansas. He did the same thing in the White House. As I remember, they went line by line increasing taxes and reducing expenses. That is part of the spirit of the platform I'm running on. We need to fight climate change AND balance the budget to bring surplus years back. I'm not a huge fan of the Green New Deal. I see the Green New Deal as based in spirit on FDR's New Deal. It is a stimulus measure.
Of course nothing is black and white. I do see the need to build up infrastructure. The main point I'm trying to make is that whenever there is stimulus or a growing economy, there is increased carbon emissions. Increased activity. It's human activity causing the problem. I'm not saying that we don't have to build things. We do have to do that. I have to say that if I were elected to congress, the Green New Deal would get my vote on the floor. I'm more for a Clinton approach than an FDR approach though. I believe in a balanced approach and a key element of that is to make a big noise to get people to make big ticket carbon savings. I'm not talking about taking your bags to the store, I'm talking about driving 10,000 miles less every year! I'm talking about driving less, not taking trains more. Living local. Let you fingers do the walking.
YES! They say in the news now that they don't know what to do with all the oil that isn't being used. We've got to keep some of these savings! Working from home will be better if school is still in session. We miss our restaurants. Of course we should still have events. But going across town to use a computer just doesn't make that much sense in the digital age. It's one of the main ways we can fight climate change.
I think the bottom line on my thinking here is that rent forgiveness without mortgage forgiveness simply won't work. I guess I'm on board with the $2T stimulus. $600/week extended unemployment benefits. People will fall through the cracks, but what else can be done? There still are a lot of people working from home and to give them rent and mortgage forgiveness doesn't make sense unless you are really going to shut everything down. Shutting everything down is possible I believe. Theoretically. By not giving blanket rent and mortgage forgiveness, we encourage people to work. We are actually working through this crisis as far as I'm concerned.
Personally, I find all this economic stuff interesting, so I'm posting about it. I was wanting to get to a daily blog kind of thing at this point anyway. I'd rather be posting about cooking though. You can see my cooking page on Dot Trombone here http://dottrombone.com/cooking. I recently came up with the 2020 curry that I share on that page. When the crisis hit, I found myself with months of dry goods on hand. When I went shopping, all I had to buy was canned tomatoes, carrots and sour cream and then I was good to not go shopping until the summer. My main plan was for rice and bean curries. I've learned a lot from making curry recipes the last 15 years and have an ablity to do some improvising on them now.
And thinking of my blog here, I'm undecided on whether to put a daily blog on dot trombone or the 4040in2020 site. I could also put the blog on a new randbarnett.com site. Putting the daily blog in with the political site is starting to not make much sense. I'm still not seeing much interest in my politics. I'm not sure that getting into politics was worth the financial investment, but I have learned a ton from it. My life is totally enriched from all the thinking and writing. I want to write more books in the future and I guess that is part of my blogging desire.
Man, I really feel for the people who are out of work right now. It's not the work, it's how to pay the bills. I'm honestly 50/50 on forgiving rent and bills. It would pause the economy and keep people at home. What is the down side? I can't think of it but I'm sure it exists. Hotel and restaurant employees should be fine on unemployment. Uber drivers are hit hard. Musicians and performers are hit hard. The gig economy.
My opinion on not pausing the economy through rent and loan forgiveness is that it benefits the rich. You can say that small time landlords aren't rich, but it isn't true. Of course if a small time landlord has a mortgage on the property they are renting, then they may just be a normal working type of person, working to keep their properties going. But under my suggestion, their mortgage would have to be forgiven too. It couldn't go on for too long, but it would pause the economy. I think the government owes us this. They are forcing a mass of people to be unemployed. I have a hard time thinking that unemployment benefits is enough to solve this problem. Too many people in our gig economy are left off of unemployment.
I suspect that blanket loan forgiveness is too much for our system to bear. Tanking all investments like that would tank the stock market too and then maybe the dollar would go with it and the government would have problems selling bonds. It's probably too late now, but a full pause through loan forgiveness in an effort to entirely crush the virus makes sense. I wonder how China solved the financial end of it.
Well, the stimulus passed. Of course the government doesn't have a good mechanism for people to forgive rent and bill payments for a few months, but a lot of places are doing that on their own. It looks like the shining light of the legislation is an extra $600/week (month?) for unemployment benefits. It does make sense to get money into the hands of the people that need it the most and that is a good attempt to do that. Who knows where things will be at in a month or two. Will the virus die down or speed up?
As long as creditors are still getting paid, the economy is not paused. And it also can't be a deal of creditors extending more credit. If workers can't work but creditors still get paid, it benefits the rich. Only if everyone is not getting paid is the economy on pause.
I don't want to get in the habit of posting daily on my opinions about this economic problem or the virus numbers. There is enough info out there and I've shared my core thoughts here. Even if I were to win the elections this year, I wouldn't take office for another 9 months. I'm focused on how to make this work at home thing a permanent change. That is the core of the 4040 plan. As much as we would all like it to just go back to normal, we should keep living more local to fight climate change.
Look, I'm a numbers guy. The Numbers: What is social distancing? If 2/3 of our population get the virus this year and 20% of those people need to be hospitalized, that is 43 million people that will have to be hospitalized this year. You don't want to be in a position where you need to be hospitalized at a peak time. If the only thing you do during a week is go to the grocery store twice, you have twice the risk of getting the virus as someone who is going to the store once a week. And if you are driving to the store, you are consuming twice the amount of gas which is twice as bad for the climate change cause. It's like the commercials we have all seen: plan your trips.
OK, you get the idea. I was naturally getting to the point where I wanted to be blogging in a more daily post kind of way and then this crisis happened, so I just want to be on here more and more. But what I really like doing is having mellow work days combined with some cooking and music. I know we are all pretty worried about the economy and money right now, but I get the feeling that American's are pretty strong here. There is a strong desire from the people I know to get back to work. Some people are just out of a job though and it's never coming back. The economy is shifting. Some places are hiring. We'll make it through this thing!
This virus is obviously highly contagious.
As far as the economy goes, the question is what is necessary? Putting the next crop in is job #1. Keeping lights, energy and water flowing is job #2. Keeping the stores stocked with food is job #3. Police keeping the peace, firefighters and the medical fields is job #4. Making medical supplies is job #5. Everything else can be put on hold in my mind. Building materials are important, but we can survive with a little less. It can be put on hold for a month or two. Keeping prescription drugs being delivered by mail is important as is getting out checks. It would be harsh stopping UPS/FedEx deliveries, but beyond medications being delivered, I think it can be put on hold.
I think the Chinese response was outstanding. They were in a better position to control it than we are. Freedom is a problem in fighting this. Just like climate change, some people think it's important and some people don't.
The bigger economic problem though is that business is totally disrupted for the long term. If we could put it all on hold for 2 months, like the Chinese did, and put a stop to it, then the economy could just go back to the way it was. But if we don't put a stop to it, people will still be fearful about transportation and gatherings. Certain industries won't rebound. I don't think we can put a stop to it here. I do like the idea that people could use this as a lesson to live more locally. My platform is all about that! People working from home is certainly good. A lot of people are working from home and making things still function out there.
A lot of people still believe that it won't get that bad. Let's run some numbers!
Wikipedia says that world population is currently 7.7 billion. Let's say that 1/3 of those people get the virus in the next year. That's 2.54 billion.
Let's say that 2% of people getting it end up dying. That's 50 million people dying from it this year that would mostly not be dying this year. Google says that in 2015, 57 million people died. So we are roughly doubling the amount of people that are going to die this year.
But more alarming are the numbers for how many people are going to need medical care. They say that 20% of people that get it need medical care. That's 500 million people that are going to have to be hospitalized. Google says that there are roughly one million hospital beds in the US. Google says that the US population is 327.2 million in 2018. That's roughly one hospital bed for every 300 people, .33% If all countries had that same number of hospital beds, that would be .33% of 7.7 billion which comes to 25 million hospital beds worldwide. It's obviously much lower than that, but let's use that number for now.
Edited on 2020-03-25. I totally screwed up this calculation! If the average hospital stay is 2 weeks, that's about 25 people you could treat per bed per year (52 weeks divided by 2 weeks). So America's 1 million hospital beds could conceivably cover 25 million a year. So, 20% of one third of the US population will wind up needing a hospital bed this year. That comes to 21 million.
Since I recalculated that, boy, it's a lot worse. That's practically using up all the hospital beds even if only 1/3 of the population gets the virus and it is spread out evenly over the whole year. This is a crisis!
IMPORTANT TOILET PAPER ALERT!! Do not use improvised toilet paper and clog up the sewers. You can just take a shower right after having a bowel movement. And then if you need to, you can take a shower 20 minutes after having a bowel movement as well. It's much like pouring water out of a pan 10 minutes after you washed it. You know, you wash a pan and then put it on the stove. And then 10 minutes later you pour the little puddle of water that collected in it out so that it will dry faster. You're working from home now, so this taking a shower stuff is easy to do.
Now is not the time to get paranoid and have a blame game. We are a world community getting through this together. If you want to blame someone, blame tourism and airlines. That's how this thing spread. And it should come as no surprise that I do not believe in a bailout for the booming airline industry!
The idea that I came up with yesterday to put the economy on hold is the right idea if you want everyone to shelter in place. If you want some people working and others not, then that solution may not be as good.
I get the feeling in my neighborhood, that this thing may be slow to progress. I'm not seeing anyone sick. People are still moving around. We're in a suburban setting and not all packed together, so social distancing is more normal.
Since I'm running for office, I feel compelled to share my political ideas on this bailout situation. I don't see anything wrong with putting the economy on hold. A $1,000 per person government payment is the right idea, but it won't cover rent and bills. In order to truly pause the economy, putting a hold on mortgage/rent payments and loan payments is necessary. You can't demand that people pay that money back to their creditors. If people can use the $1,000 to pay for food and utilities, it'll work. It'll keep the lights on. Since employers are paying healthcare premiums for workers, there is a problem with paying the healthcare industry. They'll get some money for treating some people who die, but that won't be enough. They'll get some money from others. I guess healthcare will need a government bailout too.
I guess my plan would be to give people a $600 payment and then freeze non-utility bill payments. It can't go on for too long though. Landlords are going to have to have money to put new roofs on their buildings! People with mortgages that are in better financial situations can likely still pay their mortgages. They'll want to. It's still paying off their house.
I read today that automobile production is going to pause. That's fine, but it can't go on forever. It's going to put a ripple into the industry. We'll get through it though. We can't stay isolated forever. I like the word "mitigation". Business isn't just about what you can do to make money. It's also about what needs to be done. They'll be some carbon savings in this action. The important thing from my perspective is to make sure that we have a lasting carbon savings. Something more permanent. Complete isolation sucks. But sitting in your car for hours every day, driving around town to get a hamburger, just so you don't feel isolated isn't the solution.
Later in the day...
Economic theories. You know, I think about these things. I was very critical of the roaring economic times. Does freezing bill payments make sense? I think there is logic in it. I'm not an economic expert though and these decisions don't get made by one person. As a candidate, I share my opinion so you know what you are voting for. If I got elected, I would propose bills, debate legislation and vote. And how I would vote is based on my personal feelings about all of that which I share on this site. If people like my ideas, I get voted in and it's easy for me to make decisions, because I am what you voted for.
I've thought about these ideas of UBI (universal basic income) and a Star Trek idea of a world without money. It's really hard for a society to work without money. Location, location, location. Some places in the world suck while some are beautiful. Some jobs suck and some don't. Some require 8 years of education and some don't. Even in lockdown, we still need some jobs. If you just say everyone doesn't need to pay rent, it doesn't encourage people to work.
It's like our whole economy changed overnight. Like shuffling a pack of cards. It put some of my clients in a terrible position and others came out pretty well. Whatever happens, this knocked us out of business as usual quite effectively. It has huge potential to go back together in a way that is much better for the climate change cause. Let's not screw this one up!
More research last night. There is just a huge unknown factor with this "new virus." Unknown. I think that a lot of the effort with closing businesses right now is to blunt the effect of it so that it doesn't overwhelm the hospitals. I don't know how we'll cope with the financial end of this, but there is nothing theoretically wrong with just suspending most work activities for a little while (in my opinion). I can't imagine anyone in this country having any dire need for a new TV, PlayStation or toaster!
It's an odd time to be running a political campaign. I've got to note that what I've been proposing is people working from home. 4040. What is happening now is way beyond that. More like 8080! I certainly wasn't proposing shutting down all events and restaurants! Yikes. I just thought we could trim the margins. But of course I was aiming for a big change. This thing has got the ball rolling. All the sudden I'm very optimistic that it could lead to a good lasting change. It's certainly doing more for the platform than my feeble little campaigning efforts!
How am I supposed to feel? It's like the 4040 bill was just passed! People are working from home. Travel is restricted. After a while we should hear some statistics about how much carbon emissions have gone down.
edited after research...
Reading the Wikipedia page on the Spanish Flu. How do pandemics end? It says that they can "mutate rapidly to a less lethal strain." I was entirely unaware of the 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic. I don't watch TV. I've gone through years of not reading much news. I guess you never know where this thing is headed. Of course, I get focued on the potential that working from home has for climate change. Hopefully the virus will wind down and we learn a lesson about what we can do to fight climate change.
The first few years of working home, I found myself driving 36% less. It is isolating. My paychecks were getting stolen out of the mailbox and the landlord refused to put in locked boxes, so I got a PO Box. I found myself driving to the post office every couple days to see if my paychecks had shown up. Just to get out of the house. And Patty and I did a lot of food shopping trips just to get out. But you can't help but drive less if you are working from home, so that's where the 40% comes from.
Looking back on those times, I don't know why we drove so much. We could have went on more walks. Going to the post office so much was stupid, but understandable.
There are distractions working from home. It is easy to do chores. I work as a contractor, so some days are very busy, but a lot of days I'm more on call than putting in long hours. But you know, if there is work to do, I find myself getting lost in the work and the days flow along. The detached work studio at my house when I bought it 5 years ago is the best thing ever! When I go in there, it's all work. And when I leave, I have my home scene without computers. A year or so ago, I removed email from my phone. I had gotten into a habit of waiting on a client to send an email while I was around the house. Now if I'm waiting on a client to get me something, I'll leave my studio and unplug, and then go back to the studio an hour or two later to check. Again, I'm a contractor. Contracting has a serious downside too and sometimes I wish that I was just plugging out 40 hour weeks.
I've been working from home now for 8 years. I'm now driving 100% less! I've felt locked down in my neighborhood for a few years now. It can be an uncomfortable feeling. I probably would have done it sooner if I hadn't been with the ladies. But I'm doing fine with it. My dog Nala and I are going on longer walks. I'm biking a little bit more. I'm getting excited about biking more this spring and summer. I'm not very good at getting out on my bike without a destination/purpose, but I'm going to do my best to do some riding for fun, just to get out.
This is worth mentioning too. I don't use any social media, but I do spend time writing on my websites and browsing the internet a little bit. I've been logging the hours that I work in Excel since 2005. I have a column for each day and then each cell is a 15 minute block of time. I write in a cell who I'm working for and what I'm doing and then highlight that cell(s) to mark how long I'm working. And if I'm browsing the internet or writing on my websites, I'm just clocked out. Time is money and I've put a price on my time.
Because I've been doing this for so long, I've gotten pretty good at estimating how long things take to do which is helpful when bidding on a project. I charge a fairly high rate for my time, but you know, it all comes out in the wash. My clients will get a bargain if I'm just clocked out waiting for them to get me some work that only winds up taking 30 minutes to do. And that's fine with me. That can create some relaxing, low paying days. But then work will eventually pick up and those times will make up for the being on call times. I like being available for my clients on the weekends and at any hour of the night. As long as that isn't on top of 40-50 hour weeks, being on call is a fairly good deal and is how I like to operate. And my clients love my responsiveness. Sometimes a client will call me at an odd hour to fix a critical bug and I have it done in 10 minutes. No time wasted going to an office. I may only make $20 on that call, but that is why they pay a premium for bigger projects.
I read about this Kate Brown climate change mandate legislation. Way to go Kate! I consider that what I'm proposing is the exact opposite of that kind of mandate thing. I do think that what "the people" want is more in line with the mandates. And that it is easier to pass that kind of legislation than what I'm proposing.
This whole electric car revolution is going to be interesting to see. It may not even touch my personal life though. I haven't been in a car for months. I have fantasies about having one of those electric VW Buzz vehicles in retirement. It's pretty rediculous though. That's a lot of money to go on a couple outings a year. It would sit unused most of the time. Getting in shape and biking more is a better plan. I'm a good enough bicyclist that even in my old age, I should be able to get to just about anywhere in the city.
I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but it's worth mentioning. We're seeing big companies telling people to work from home to fight coronavirus. Is climate change any different?
Believe me, I get the plight of middle class Americans. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Elizabeth Warren's Two Income Trap book. The Navy was not a good paying job. I was homeless for 4 years after the Navy. I lived in crappy apartments with the ceiling leaking for 10 years. I finally was able to buy a house when I was 44 years old. I never felt I was in a good enough position to start a family. It's going to be a struggle for me to pay off the house in time to have any retirement. I get it!
But if the government stepped in and taxed the rich and gave that money to the working class, what would happen? The government lowers your healthcare premium and eliminates your college debt. You have more money! What do you do with it? Maybe it saves you $1,000/month. You've been scraping by for years. Now you can afford to buy a new electric car. Or get into a house quicker. Is that new electric car or house going to help climate change? Well, of course the electric car is better, but that money went somewhere. It takes plenty of carbon emissions to make a car! Materials to make a new house.
My 4040 plan calls for people to work from home. The car doesn't have to get made. The power plants to generate the electricity for them don't have to get built. You save money by not having to buy a car or fuel. You have more time to cook at home because you are not stuck in traffic. Is the socialist plan really better for climate emissions than 4040? Is it even better for your personal situation?
I don't want people to spend their whole lives in crappy little apartments. I'm a democrat! I do believe in social protections. But lifting everyone up a notch is just not going to be good for climate change. There is upward mobility in this country. Throwing money at a problem isn't always the best way to get a job done. Some things just take time and effort. They can be more rewarding that way too. And better for climate change.
I tend to go on and on about my success in losing weight. My platform is built on the idea of a carbon diet. Our problems with health and climate are the same in my mind: Over-consumption.
I never made it to obese. I was just overweight. But I had pretty much been underweight for my entire life. Then I got into cooking and drinking soda pop. After a few years of that, in 2010, I was doing everything wrong. I was snacking all day and night. I was prescribed "rapid weight loss" by my doctor in 2012. I weighed about 187. So I started keeping a food log. I counted calories of the things I was eating for a couple months. I weighed myself every day. I logged my weight and calorie intake in Excel. By the summer of 2013, I was down to 170.
Patty went online and found the Joe Cross movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. My A1C test was 5.9, pretty much pre-diabetic. So I started juice fasting. By New Year's 2014 I weighed 160. I had lost 27 pounds in 2 years.
The work isn't over though. It's tough to keep weight off! For a long time there, my goal was to get below 155. I was in that 155 to 160 range for years. Patty died in the summer of 2017 and then I met Cynthia. Cynthia was vegetarian and I was cooking a lot of curries. Our relationship was built on romantic dinners. Every night! It was something. I finally got below 155. Then below 150. Cynthia died in the summer of 2019. I was on a good path, but I was sure that I could get my slim build back all the way. So I lost another 10 pounds. A couple days ago I weighed 137, 50 pounds lower than when I started this journey. 135 is my absolute goal. I'll be happy as long as I stay in the 130's. My A1C is now 5.2. I'm doing what I can to not be on the diabetic rolls.
WHY AM I POSTING THIS ON MY POLITICAL CAMPAIGN SITE!! All I've been hearing about for years in the national democratic news is about Healthcare. Look. My opinion is that the main health problems that we are having in this country have to do with OVER CONSUMPTION. All my doctor did was prescribe me "rapid weight loss." That visit cost me a $15 co-pay, but that was some of the best advice I ever got. It was hard work. Harder than anything I've done. But it did not cost money. I feel that "fixing our healthcare system" is simply treating a symptom. It is not curing the disease! I believe in HEALTH, not HEALTCARE! And climate change is exactly the same problem. Carbon emissions are fine in moderation. There are just too many people out there in the world using too much fossil fuels.
It's all carbon, right? I think it is just fantasy land thinking that we can use all the energy we want and it will all come from wind and solar. You know, maybe we could do that with fusion. I'm certainly not a perfect role model, but I did lose 50 pounds and I haven't spent any money on powered transportation for almost 2 months now. We're not going to buy our way out of these problems is what I say. The solutions are about changing personal behavior. I'm proposing a carbon tax. We need money to build renewable power. But without nationally organized efforts to battle the psychological problems of over-consumption, I don't think we'll ever have enough energy. Or healthcare!
Later in the day...
Climate change action can be pretty gloomy, but there is progress here. Emissions mandates are moving the auto industry to go all electric. That's better. It'll take a decade for them to ramp up. The electricity sector has been investing in natural gas power plants. That's better too and where most of our gains have come from. I say that all of that is not enough though.
I read a political article last night written by someone in their 20's or maybe their 30's. He said "and all my friends want to buy Teslas." OK, these are better, but they are still cars. They are heavy and primarily burn natural gas and coal because of how our energy is generated. It is better. Is it enough? I think it boils down to this: Can our desire for shiny new technology save us from climate change disaster? I'm not saying that the quest for better technology isn't part of the solution. I'm simply saying that it isn't the whole solution!
There is also the gloomy energy of what I'm proposing. The idea that it will depress the economy and lock us all down in our neighborhoods. Believe me, I get that! But to simply rebel against that is worse than dealing with that reality. My lady Patty used to complain of "compressing the energy too tight." And then it would be an excuse to get in the car and go out to eat. We spent a lot of money and gas doing that. I'm locked down in my neighborhood now because I don't have a car, but I'm eating better cooking at home and spending a lot less money. And not burning gas. It's different. I remember that I used to get the urge to have a McDonald's sausage egg biscuit at 6am. And I'd drive out and get that once in a while. Now I have to plan ahead more. I make my own English muffins. I have to let the dough rise and then fry them in the cast iron pans. They have less calories though and taste better. Well, taste is about the same. I do like those biscuits! And I enjoy making them and I'm saving around $5,000/year by not having a car. What have I lost? What have I gained? If a lot of people started doing this, a lot of jobs would be lost. Less fast food places. Less cars. I'm simply saying that the fear of this creating a downturn in the economy doesn't make sense. Yes, it would happen. But it might just be a better world. It would certainly be a world with less carbon emissions. Do we need our fast food so badly that we'll destroy the planet to get it? All lined up at McDonald's in our Teslas? I've been thinking of fast food as the car's killer app lately. The car is way more versitle than that, but there is some truth to it.
Another story here... The last two years, while I was with Cynthia, I drove the car to the store every 10 days to get our groceries. With Patty, we were going shopping every couple days and spending twice as much money. With Cynthia, I was doing all the cooking and buying just the vegies that we used. But I was still driving the car 2.5 miles to the store. Now I typically walk to the store that is just 15 minutes away. Once in a while I break out the bike and go to the other stores. I knew for years that it didn't make sense using the car. But it was there, so I used it. Just being lazy. The car has a way of doing that.
Not that everyone can live without a car. I understand that isn't reality. But I can't be the only person who can do this. I bet you there are other people in the world who do computer work! This is only the 6th year out of my 30 years of adult life that I've gone entirely without a car. That's 20% though and the other years I was biking quite a bit.
I'm critical of the Green New Deal and Bernie Sanders. This stuff is never going to get a single Republican vote. I feel like they are holding meaningful climate change action hostage. We don't need a socialist takeover of our government. We need to fix our carbon emissions problem.
That's where I stand on it. Maybe I'm wrong though! Only time will tell. I feel that providing economic relief to the middle class is going to make carbon emissions worse. More people with bigger houses, bigger cars and more plane trips. It shouldn't be the focus. Consumption is the problem. We have it so good. When is enough enough? Weight loss and disease.
Let's run some numbers...
My Energy article says that a solar power facility near me cost $10 million to build and that it powers 140 homes 24/7. If the typical energy bill is $100/month, then 140 (homes) x $100 x 12 (months) = $168,000/year. At that rate, it would take 59.5 years to pay for it! Yikes!
The only number I made up there was the $100/month. That is what my average bill comes to, but I'm a conservationalist. If the average bill was $200/month, then we could halve the 59.5 down to 29.75. Man, 30 years. And all of that money paid up front. Multiply that by every household in the country and it's no wonder we are having problems doing this.
I read an article the other day about a couple in their late 60's who has given up on the idea of meaningful climate change action. They talked about how the whole recycling industry was born and then how they got into electric cars. They talked about how upset they were that the politicians didn't just put an end to fossil fuels. I don't think these numbers add up though. I'm with Vaclov Smil on this. He says "You're going to do what?" when refering to being 100% renewable energy in 30 years.
And that is why I'm here preaching conservation. Conservation is like putting the whole nation, or world, on a diet. Diets are hard obviously. I did it. I've done some tough things in my life, but dieting was by far the hardest of them all. I agree that it is unlikely that the whole nation will go on this carbon diet that I'm proposing, but I'm still here suggesting this because I believe it is the only rational thing to do. We can do this. We can spread the word on the internet, TV and social media. 40% of us could reduce our electric and gas emissions by 40% and that would reduce those emissions by 16% across the board. I think we need to take this step instead of just waiting for those other numbers to work out.
MMM would agree with me on this... Electric cars are a lot more efficient, but you are still taking 3,000 pounds with you wherever you go. It takes energy to move all of that weight! People lived millions of years without air conditioning! We can at least learn to limit it some. We would if we thought it were necessary.
I think it's necessary. That's why I'm here. It was worth spending some of my time and money to be here with this message.
They say that solar pays for itself in 9 years. Maybe so. Let's run my personal numbers...
To get the hardware for a 10 panel solar system on my house costs about $5,000. I could save on installation by doing it myself, but nothing is free, so let's call installation another $5,000. So the whole system is $10,000. I'm probably going to save an average of $30/month on my bill with this system, $50 if I'm lucky. Portland is cloudy! $50/month is $600/year. I'll pay it off in 16.6 years. If I borrow the money, the payoff will be more like 20 years. Will I even live that long?
I guess the utility solar project I refer to is out of date. I think it was a 2014 project. 16 years is better than 30, but man! There is a lot written about how Germany has struggled to get a 30-40% solar mix. It's possible though. But if we migrate to electric vehicles, we'll be putting higher demand on electricity generation.
We do need to do this. It does take money and effort. I think it makes sense to do conservation as well. Any energy not used is 100% efficiency. Power plants that don't have to be built. Work that doesn't have to be done. Or like a bumper sticker in my neighborhood "0MPH = 0MPG". Well, that's not apples to apples, but that's a good bumper sticker, right?
I'm probably a bit of a pessimist here, but I think building high speed trains is the wrong call. I think it encourages city to city travel. I think we need to encourage living local. The point I keep making is that even more efficient powered transportation is still powered transportation. It takes a lot of resources. If we just end up using the more efficient transportation more and more, we haven't made a savings. We could actually make things worse. Or in the best case, we are just making things slightly better. There is a Neil Peart lyric about this "Why move around the world, when Eden was so near?"
Every dog likes going for a car ride. What is life without a little adventure? A new place to sniff? I'm hoping to get my dog out on the bike this spring.
Later in the day...
The fact is that the number one democratic issue in national politics is healthcare, not climate change. That is completely baffling to me, but because of that, I have more to say on it...
The problem is that we pay more than any developed country and get worse outcomes. It doesn't make sense that we'll get better outcomes by paying less though! We have a 39% obesity rate and 70% of people are overweight. The medical profession can't do anything to treat that problem. Absolutely nothing. All they can do is manage the damage. It could be that we pay more because doctors are chaging more. Do we want doctors to be paid less? I totally agree that the wealthy need to be taxed more. That was one of the main things that happened that reduced the national debt after WWII. I'm completely undecided on whether we should have Medicare for All. I don't think it matters all that much honestly. This shouldn't be the #1 issue!
I do strongly believe that Medicare for All is not going to produce better medical outcomes. Doctors can't make someone live a healthy lifestyle. We have freedom. I do admit that raising taxes on tobacco helped win that battle. I am not in favor of a soda pop tax however. I do admit that maybe that isn't the right call. I just think that it is better for us to use the internet to share our personal stories so that we can all figure out how to live healthier lives. Personally, I drank soda pop for a few years, like it was water, and I would up with some serious problems to address. I battled that weight loss battle for years, and I won! It was not easy though and all my doctor said was "This weight problem is very common in America. I prescribe rapid weight loss." If I had not taken action, I would have wound up with type 2 diabetes. I would have been in need of medications and test strips. And who knows what else would have happened. I did us both a favor and took care of the problem and no, I did not exercise, at all. I fasted a lot. I had a lot of 500 calorie days. Some people would say that it wasn't healthy to do it that way. But I had to do something. I was lucky though. I had good eating habits before I started drinking the soda pop. Once I cut it out, it was pretty easy to get back on track. Losing weight is totally different than eating healthy though. Not the same thing.
I just averaged out my electricty kWh for the previous year. It came to 630kWh average a month. The eia.gov site says the average in the US is 914kWh/month. But I use natural gas for heat too. I use an average 42 therms a month. It's a little harder to get solid information on average natural gas usage. I wonder what a typical large house in Portland uses. I wonder how typical my house is. Maybe PGE can provide better info.
This is interesting. I've run into this before...
The oregon.gov page here https://www.oregon.gov/energy/energy-oregon/Pages/Electricity-Mix-in-Oregon.aspx says 40% of the state's electricity is generated by hydro-electric and 31% is from coal. This site: https://www.eia.gov/state/print.php?sid=OR says that coal is a very small percent (it calculates using "Trillion Btu"). And the PGE page here https://www.portlandgeneral.com/our-company/energy-strategy/how-we-generate-electricity says Hydro is 14%, Coal is 14% and Natural Gas is 33%. The PGE page does say that "Purchased Power" is 30%. The oregon.gov site page does have a tab for PGE and those numbers do reflect the PGE page. I guess the oregon.gov page is the closest to the truth for the state of Oregon. Almost half of Oregon's electricity comes from coal and natural gas. And we live in the state with the second highest hyrdo-electric generation.
There is a light dusting of snow on the ground this morning.
Yesterday morning, it was 54 degrees in the house at 9:54am. The dog was shivering and I was wearing my pea coat and cold. So I turned the heat on. It took 2 and a half hours to bring the heat up to 72 degrees. I kept the furnace on for another hour and a half. I didn't run the furnace for the rest of the day. I burned 5 small pieces of wood in the fireplace to warm up before going to bed. I also did my laundry, so I did use some electricity. I kept the heat off in my work studio.
I plugged those numbers into my energy_calculator and it said that my energy usage was 80% lower than if I had kept the furnace on 72 degrees all day. On a typical day, I keep the furnace off while I sleep. I turn it on in the morning and bring it up to 72 degrees. I leave it on for the rest of the morning and the early afternoon. Then I leave it off until the next morning. And I usually burn a few pieces of wood before going to bed. That turns out to be a 55% energy savings over having it idle all day. I'm on track to burn about a half cord of wood this year.
So, I did save more on that one day, just as a little test of what I can do. It was colder. But typically, I'm pretty satisified with my ratio of cold to warm. There are times during the day when I'm cold. There are times I'm wearing my pea coat in the house. There are times I'm using energy to keep warm. The way I look at it is that it's winter. It's cold in the winter. Enjoy some of the cold! I enjoy the seasons. There is no reason to have it a perfect 72 degrees all the time. I'm not trying to blot out the seasons!
Well, there is ice in the bird bath this morning. It's foggy out. I've been running my gas furnace about 8 hours a day for the last few weeks. I was able to cut it back some this week too. I only had it on for a couple hours yesterday and I'm going to try to not use it at all today. I'm turning the electric oil heater off in my studio today too. I'm not working today anyway.
I've been without a car now for 4 months. I have urges to get a car, but they are irrational. I take the bus once or twice a month. I take Uber about once a month. I walk a lot. I bike a bit. It's hilly in my neighborhood. I have gotten some good workouts biking. I often walk a few miles to a destination. I had a friend tell me yesterday that he's spending $6,000/year on his car. My logs say that I spent about $40,000 in the last decade on cars.
The fact is that I've been working from home exclusively for 8 years. I never even needed a car. And in my opinion, everyone I work with in the software development field could and should be working from home. My platform is based on this principle. I'm not saying that some human interaction will not be lost, but there are gains too. Significant energy savings for one. And significant time savings too. I find that with the extra time, I'm cooking every day. Most days I spend an hour or more cooking. It's been obvious the last 4 months how good the car is at taking you out to restaurants!
There is nothing wrong with cap and trade. It's a mandate program. Mandates are driving the auto industry to go electric. I'm proposing carbon taxes. But you know, I'll always be preaching the conservation end of this battle. I did get the conservation message across in the interview. I'm glad I talked about the truck driving being back in her community driving around and heating and cooling her home. You're not a luddite if you use technology to work from home!
I'm obviously not a professional politician. I'm smart, but I don't have a formal background in politics and economics. My strengths are in my personal experiences with bike commuting, how the welfare systems work, and personal behavior modification (food, drugs, energy consumption). Getting elected, putting the proposed legislation in the hopper and getting some TV interviews are all solid goals. I don't have all the answers though. I do what I do. I think there is a place for what I do in the House of Representatives.
Post interview comments... Cap and Trade. I have these indirect answers to this issue. Look, industry needs inexpensive power. If they don't get it, the industry will be exported. And that is bad for emissions and our money circulation. Again, I preach conservation. Of course we need a mixture of both, but we really need to step up the conservation message. But you know, it comes back to my proposed legislation. I think we should tax the citizens, not the industries. Just tax the people and use the money to build the renewable power. Just do it.
Economic theories... Money is like an electrical circuit; it just wants to go round. I feel that investment and debt is like a ponzi scheme. If rich people have nothing else they can do with their money than invest it, and they demand that they get a return on that investment, then all the money will float to the top and it will be game over. The only way to rectify it is for them to be taxed or for them to give their money away outright. And the whole game is like a carrot in front of the donkey. If everyone could work for a decade and then survive on investment money, there would be a huge shortage of workers and we would have inflation until people had to go back to work. MMM is right though, conservation is totally important!
Actually... Wouldn't more money going to rich people encourage deflation?
And I totally stand behind my theory that immigration does not matter but products across our borders does matter. Wherever a person is, they participate in the local economy. If you are here you are using the resources that are here, period. Of course we still need immigration laws because we have to have some limits on it. But with products, if they were made outside our country, we did not collect any taxes on the labor used to produce them. I think that's a problem. It screws up our monetary system. It's money going out but never coming back in. Of course people will argue that we are not collecting taxes on the illegal immigrants that are here. Well, that is more the businesses fault than the immigrants fault. Those illegals are also not getting Social Security benefits and a host of other benefits. Yes, there is a little imbalance on that money equation, but nothing to get too excited about. They are a part of the local economy. And paying sales tax if the state has sales tax.
Money. We can get all crazy trying to protect our money. Everyone cares about their money. But what is more important are the things behind the money. Choices about the things we use and how we spend our time. And energy. We keep making energy cleaner and cleaner, yet we always wind up spending the surplus! We'll do it again with the green technologies if we don't make conservation an issue.
And we talked about homelessness and I was seeing a lot of tents on the sidewalk. It reminds me of the shanty towns of Africa and South America. When I got off the streets, I got a voucher to get a cheap one bedroom apartment. It's about the only thing I would accept. I wanted to live next to people that were working. Yes, I was probably different than most homeless people. Those "projects" type developments of the 70's were crime magnets. We still have HUD dwellings like that around town. I found integration into a working community to be helpful. My two cents.
One of my campaign slogans is “We are not going to buy our way out of climate change.” Part of that is about consumerism, but another part of that is the idea of carbon taxes. We’ve seen these protests in France and Europe with the burdensome energy taxes. We’re having a hard time getting carbon taxes here. I just will not buy into the idea that we can do everything with a carbon tax. Conservation must be part of the picture.
If 40% of people turned their heater off while they are sleeping, we would move the needle on climate change, overnight. That is real climate change action. Protesting that the government does something about it is not enough. It's not "ask what your country can do for you." If you want the government to do something about it, it means voting in higher taxes. If we did get a carbon tax and you simply became more productive to earn more money to pay your higher gas and heating bill, then we haven't made a savings. We need taxes and conservation. We need a national leader with this message. I am not hearing any national attention given to climate change conservation.
I'm trying to fill those shoes, but I cannot do it alone. Support this campaign. Turn your heater off at night. Work at home if you can. Drive less. Ride a bike. Live local. Vote for a carbon tax. Tell a friend about my website. Sacrifices have to be made to get anything done. It's a property of 4 dimensional reality. In order to stop doing one thing, you have to do something else. If you are going to stop drinking, do something besides drinking and thinking about drinking.
I don't like it when politician's campaign on everything. Promising everything is not practical and that is the main problem I have with The Green New Deal. We should be focused primarily on climate change. There is increasing wealth dispairity, but overall, we are a wealthy nation.
The Wikipedia page on The American Dream talks about 77% of Russians being "cooped up" in apartment buildings. I think our suburbs are our greatest asset. It's the unnecessary commuting that is the problem.
Obviously putting a tariff on China doesn't make sense. Putting a tariff on a product makes sense. Tariffs should not be thought of as a punishment. The idea is simply to make American manufacturing competitive. Whether an Asian factory for the world makes the most sense is another topic.
Working from home en mass is the only way we can make a big dent in carbon emissions in the short run. Too much stuff has to be built to have wind/solar make a dent in the short run. Building stuff takes energy. Fusion working out is a big unknown. It might happen. Betting the farm on it is risky. Building up solar/wind makes sense, but it won't help emissions in the short run. In fact, it will make the problem worse in the short run.
Environmentally speaking, we've been prescribed rapid weight loss. I'm proposing the 500 calorie a day diet.
By increasing energy costs and expanding environmental regulations on industry, we increase the costs of American goods which makes it harder for them to compete globally. We outsource our pollution. I am proposing taxing residential activity instead of commercial activity. That would effectively tax domestic and foreign goods equally. My 10% energy tax is calculated to increase solar power to 13% in 40 years. That is way below 50-100% in 30 years. Can we even pass a 10% energy tax?
And remember, if you save money by driving less, but then use the savings to buy plane tickets, you haven't made a carbon savings. Should we make a carbon savings? I say yes to that question. We should do this. We can do this. Will we do it? It certainly will take some will power. I think that at least 50% of people want to do something. Those 50% should be highly organized, working together.
The myth that you don't get power when the wind doesn't blow needs to be put to rest. You don't get power from coal when you don't put coal in the furnace. Dig? Of course there will have to be some redundancy with fossil fuel plants.