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WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?


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Viewing 25 posts - 51 through 75 (of 97 total)
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  • #3691216
    Paul Wagner
    BPL Member

    @balzaccom

    Locale: Wine Country

    A good point.  But those leaders can help others see the light, as it were, or remain in darkness.  Recently, we haven’t had enough light.

    #3691225
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    my theory is that the reason people don’t accept that global warming is a thing, is that they fear the government is going to take your car away, make you turn the temp down to 65 F and wear a sweater,… otherwise ruin the quality of your life

    Ever more dire reports of how bad global warming is going to be just make it worse – if global warming is actually worse, they’re going to ruin my life even more

    Better to say that a more efficient car will actually be better for me, wind and solar actually cost less than fossil fuels and provide more jobs making the economy better,…

    This is chaff isn’t it? : )

    #3691231
    Karen
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    With questions like, how many children we can have and who decides – this is already happening, like it or not. Our Congress decides who will and who will not get tax credits or deductions, based on lobbyists and religious affiliation, and whatever else influences a Congressperson to vote yes or no. They decide if our schools and health care will be funded or if we’ll feed the poorest among us, or not bother. It’s not like society can’t make these decisions; we already are doing just that. Our state health boards are deciding who gets vaccinated first, because there isn’t enough to go around. Does anyone really think bank tellers should come before public school teachers?! Apparently in my state they do. I would say these decisions are made with less debate than we’re having here.

    Right now our tax structure heavily favors the uber-wealthy. You can control a massive corporation and pay a lower tax rate than your secretary. Or pay your employees so little that they need food stamps to survive (Walmart, Amazon, etc. workers depend on federal programs), despite working 40 hours a week, while the dude at the top sits on his yacht. You can incentivize people to produce more children or fewer, and we do have laws that do just that. Actually the crappy economy does more to influence behavior than what Congress does, but ultimately we influence the economy as well. Saying “who decides” – we all do, by electing people who will do the bidding of whomever pays them the most to be re-elected. Citizens United in action.

    Regardless of the philosophical discussion, the earth isn’t waiting for us or anyone to settle the debate. The hurricanes, landslides, melting ice, warming ocean, dying fish, elimination of a species per day, massive wildfires, and global food crises will speed up. Our huge population of humans is “microbe food” and when there is more food to be had, there will be more organisms to partake of it; we will no doubt see more epidemics in the near future. On that sunny note, I’m off to ski – my equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns, I guess.

    #3691273
    Paul Wagner
    BPL Member

    @balzaccom

    Locale: Wine Country

    Don’t overlook the government subsidies to petrochemical companies…helping them stay in business and profit from our addiction.

    Odd that opioid producers are taken to task, fined, and jailed for creating an addiction…but oil companies get subsidies.  Meanwhile, China is in a dominant position with solar energy…looking ahead, rather than behind.

    #3691284
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    “Right now our tax structure heavily favors the uber-wealthy.”

    I know this is accepted fact on the left, but I don’t think it’s quite that cut and dried, as this Vox article explains. It all depends on what numbers you use, and how you crunch them.

    The debate over whether the very rich pay lower taxes than you, explained

    #3691287
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    Good article.  Yeah its hard to calculate actual tax rate including everything.

    If anything, its only the 0.1% or 0.01% that are paying less.

    That article mentioned taxing capital, but not taxing capital gains as ordinary income.  Thats a big benefit to Uber rich.

    There are other factors too, for example the salaries of corporate executives has gone up just because it has.  Board of directors believe that execs are more valuable than they really are.

    Bezos wife just gave away $4billion but her net worth gas increased more than that.  She can’t give it away fast enough.  Same with Bill gates.

    Theres something unhealthy about the system.

    And on the other end, there are many auto workers, steel workers, coal miners,..  who used to have good jobs.  Many of them are now stagnate at best.

    Its easy to just jump on Uber wealthy and think taxing them is the problem and solution, but its more complicated

    #3691298
    Bonzo
    BPL Member

    @bon-zo

    Locale: Virgo Supercluster

    Its easy to just jump on Uber wealthy and think taxing them is the problem and solution, but its more complicated

    Most people seem to have too much personal bias, vitriol and jealousy – and a complete ignorance of all three – to have an objective discussion on that subject.  Even the act of complaint against the injustices of the monetary part of the system is a tacit acceptance of it…

    On that sunny note, I’m off to ski – my equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns, I guess.

    …and a good argument can be made against those that have the money, time and ability to do such things.  I’m not trying to bust your balls on this one, Karen, but it’s a clean-cut example of unintended personal detachment altering our perceptions of priorities, so it bears mentioning.  (And since I spent my afternoon shooting a few brace of pheasants with my father, so I’ve no moral room to lecture on matters either temporal or financial.)

     

    #3691371
    Karen
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Skiing is incredibly cheap where i live. Once you have your skis, it’s free. I can go out my back door and onto a trail. What argument could you possibly make against that? Unless you argue against any joy whatsoever in life (why are you on BPL?).

    That said, I think most of us find ways to enjoy ourselves, or we wouldn’t be at BPL. Hardly a crime to have joy and outdoor activity in your life, especially when sitting around worrying about the inevitable won’t change anyone else’s behavior or stop climate change, end poverty etc. I hardly think I have anything like “detachment” when I’ve clearly advocated ending poverty and climate change, and suggested that if we all cared, as a collective, I believe we could do it.

     

    #3691372
    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member

    @retiredjerry

    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    +1

    #3691376
    Karen
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    I would also argue that in fact, the wealthy get *a lot* more privilege in life than just a lower tax rate due to capital gains being undertaxed. The more money I earn, the more extras are offered to me, the more benefits I never knew existed, the more people have respect for me or treat me with deference. It’s astonishing, really and totally undeserved; I’m still just a person working and earning my living. Two years ago, if I did something wrong at work and got fired, I’d have been out of work. Now with a recent promotion I have a year’s severance if I do something wrong. Instead of being held to a higher standard as I move up in my career and have greater responsibility, I’m more protected than ever. That is ridiculous. That is typical of most workplaces. The assembly line people don’t have the protection, the execs do – and need it less! I also get headhunted with fair regularity, something that probably doesn’t happen to those at the economic bottom.

    There are also “secrets” that wealthier people know about and share with each other to get ahead, knowledge that cannot benefit those who are ignorant of it. For example, when my first kid got his first financial aid offer, I appealed, and then appealed again. We ended up with $20,000 more than the initial offer in aid. I will bet that most of the first generation students I work with don’t know you can even do that; they have been trained to politely accept what is given, and say “yes sir, no ma’am.” They lose out as a result. On the other side of this example, are the wealthier who hire college advisers to help their kids get into college and get good financial aid. The rich get richer and the poor don’t know why they’re still stuck at the bottom.

    When I first bought a house, my brother told me I could deduct the mortgage interest from my federal taxes. That wasn’t true – because I didn’t buy an expensive house. Poorer people (I wasn’t poor, just poorer than my brother!) have to buy less costly houses, and get no special deal with the IRS like the wealthy do.

    There are so, so many examples of ways in which our tax code deliberately provides benefits to the upper classes and not to the lower. And if anyone happens to be jealous of those making under $20,000 and collecting food stamps, please feel free to try it. See where you have to live on $20,000 a year, in say, San Francisco.

    Finally, when I was growing up, there were few homeless people in our cities. There have always been some, but there were not encampments of hundreds or even thousands. The wealthy complain because they can’t use their parks, or want to put everyone on buses to some other city. Boo hoo. Here’s a thought; if you want homeless people not to be there, give them homes!

    #3691378
    Karen
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Here’s a crazy tax policy against working people that just happened. Did you know that military service members did not get federal taxes withheld for four months this year? That was supposedly to help them out in a tough time, 2020. But, now they have to pay all those back taxes! So all of this year’s paychecks will be reduced to pay off those taxes. Entry level privates make about $20,000 a year. Consider that next time you’re thanking a soldier for their service.

    #3691382
    Bonzo
    BPL Member

    @bon-zo

    Locale: Virgo Supercluster

    Skiing is incredibly cheap where i live. Once you have your skis, it’s free. I can go out my back door and onto a trail. What argument could you possibly make against that? Unless you argue against any joy whatsoever in life (why are you on BPL?).

    As I said, I’m not busting your balls…but this is exactly my point about unintended detachment: it’s easy/cheap/free for you, so you prioritize it…but skiing is often none of those things for others, so they cannot prioritize it.  That abstraction is the argument…or at least part of it.  Does your circumstance legitimize what others see as a luxury pursuit?  If so, where do we draw the lines between what you choose to do, and what any other person chooses to do with the circumstances in which they find themselves?  Is there an inherent difference between saying “you have easy access to ski country, so you enjoy it as best possible” and “this other person has access to a high income level, so they enjoy it as best possible”…?  Those are hard questions, which is why I mentioned the idea.  Sorry if you took offence; it wasn’t meant.

    As for why I’m on the forum: to get better at losing pack weight.

    #3691389
    Kattt
    BPL Member

    @kattt

    “As for why I’m on the forum: to get better at losing pack weight.”

    I think that  your fairness and levelheadedness is much needed here ( and at large). So thanks for being here and posting on all kinds of matters.

    #3691396
    Bonzo
    BPL Member

    @bon-zo

    Locale: Virgo Supercluster

    Thanks, Katt; I rather like it here.  It seems like there’s a good crowd, and people act maturely even when debating…and that’s often hard to do.

    Something I was just thinking about:

    Two years ago, if I did something wrong at work and got fired, I’d have been out of work. Now with a recent promotion I have a year’s severance if I do something wrong. Instead of being held to a higher standard as I move up in my career and have greater responsibility, I’m more protected than ever. That is ridiculous. That is typical of most workplaces.

    If that situation is so unfair, and if you’re advocating increased fairness across the board…why did you accept the promotion?  Why would anyone, if they have a conscience that recognizes the issues at hand?  Is this particular example a moral paradox that can only be solved by discarding one’s morals when things get personal, or is it simply the successful result of working to better your situation?  I would argue that it is the latter, because the social contract of most nations accepts increased reward for increased effort or risk.  If that’s the case, again: where do we draw the line between pleasant theory and social reality?

    Not an easy nut to crack, for me at least.

    #3691402
    Rog Tallbloke
    BPL Member

    @tallbloke

    Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!

    The problem with the NASA graph is that it splices two different methods of measuring CO2 together, and that’s a nono in science.

    There has been a lot of scientific literature written explaining how ice core CO2 readings tend to be low, but the one line summary is… diffusion. The gas in high CO2 layers migrates through the ice to adjacent layers with lower CO2. This ‘averages’ the CO2 measured, and generates datapoints which are ‘smoothed’ over hundreds of years. A timescale which can see CO2 in the atmosphere rise and fall by 100ppm or more.

    But at the modern end of the graph, the ice core data has been joined onto CO2 measurements taken directly from the air, which don’t exhibit this ‘smoothing’ effect.

    It would be less egregious if the two methods were shown in different colors, with a legend explaining the facts. Presenting it all as one line is scientifically fraudulent.

    #3691413
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    BONZO,

    “Wouldn’t it be so pleasantly elegant to simply not require so much energy…?”

    What an “un-American” thing to say. We must consume, it’s “The American Way”. Or at least that’s the Chamber of Commerce line we’ve been brought up on.

    IF Biden can bring up the US middle class income I fear it will only mean more consumption and thus more energy consumption. But Biden also wants a lot ov Clean Energy so maybe consumption will be as Patagonia has been preaching, the purchase of higher quality products that actually LAST.

    Or we could learn the old Yankee way of, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.”

    #3691423
    Karen
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Why accept a promotion? Because I believed – still do – that I was the best candidate for the job at the time. If I had not applied, the same benefits would be given to any other candidate. Taking or not taking the job will not change the system. These systems that reinforce the class divide will not change until a majority of people believe they are unfair, and it’s pretty clear that most Americans do not see it that way. Collectively – rich or poor – we believe that the poor are lazy and the rich merit their situations, and when you’re on the higher end of that equation, you aren’t inclined to look for the ways in which the systems favor you and not the other.

    Climate change will indeed hit the poor far harder, and the rich will be able to adapt, here and elsewhere.

    #3691434
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    “Did you know that military service members did not get federal taxes withheld for four months this year? That was supposedly to help them out in a tough time, 2020. But, now they have to pay all those back taxes!”

    Government at its best. Another example (of many), many small distilleries made batches of hand sanitizer when sanitizer was scarce/nearly impossible to find (which itself was made much more difficult than necessary by the feds). A lot of it was donated, some sold at a very small profit. They were a huge help during a difficult time.

    So, of course, to thank these small businesses for stepping up when the country needed them, the FDA has decided these small distilleries were, instead, “over-the-counter drug monograph facilities” and have sent them all a bill, each for more than $14,000.

    Government, we sure do need more of it, eh?

    #3691441
    Bonzo
    BPL Member

    @bon-zo

    Locale: Virgo Supercluster

    These systems that reinforce the class divide will not change until a majority of people believe they are unfair, and it’s pretty clear that most Americans do not see it that way.

    As previously stated: changes happen gradually, and slowly.  We could even say that they happen one person at a time… pending, of course, that some one person has the desire to be the first.  Even when that happens, however: who are any of us, to argue with the majority?  Is the majority not that to which we hold allegiance?  Is it not that which holds sway by common accord?  Or, conversely, is the majority only allowed its authority and supremacy so long as we – individually – are part of it?  Are we to decry it and tear it down as soon as we find ourselves in opposition?  Is that really how our system works?

    #3691454
    Karen
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Government, we sure do need more of it, eh?

    I agree, we don’t need more government. We can solve the problems of equity, social justice, poverty, and climate change without making it bigger. And we should.

    #3691858
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Karen, remember The Golden Rule from The Wizard of Id cartoon – “He who has the gold makes the rules.” Still applies, sadly.

    I heard a Chinese businessman describe China as a “market economy” and the US as a “capitalist economy”. the distinction, according to him was that the Communist Party governing is above influence from the billionaires while the US is run by the billionaires.

    While I think he is a bit naive about the Communist Party I agree with his assessment of the US government. Just look at the power of big PACs after the horrible Citizens United SCOTUS decision.

    And most concerning to me is the lack of education in our kids. The US Army and Marine Corps say that fully 71% of young men are UNFIT for military service due to obesity and lack of education.  

    As a retired high school teacher I lay it to our damnable education system where boards of education are staffed by elected officials who usually have NO knowledge of public education  – because there are no standards of qualification to run for the positions! And superintendents and principals serve “at the pleasure of the board” so they “promote” students who should repeat a grade because they “don’t want to create waves” with the superintendent and thus the school board. BAD system which is also financed by property tax. And school “districts” are drawn around poor areas, middle class areas and wealthy areas. Thus kids in wealthy districts have better schools and teachers and a big head start in life.

    We are in SO much trouble in this country. Maybe assuming the nuclear attack position is justified. (i.e. bending over and kissing our a$$ goodbye).

     

     

    #3694714
    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member

    @danepacker

    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Think we will, in the next 5 years, see much more worldwide utilization of fully electric vehicles (EV), mainly in cars & SUVs but also in light trucks and later in semi tractor trailers.

    To me this is a bright spot in an increasingly gloomy environmental outlook. I hope governments everywhere spend money to encourage the use of EVs because government incentives can greatly increase the pace of EV adoption.

    Trump let the EV and roof top solar power incentives begin to sunset. Biden will try to pass new legislation to renew and/or increase these incentives. States and municipalities now need to do their part to add incentives such as permitting ONLY busses and EV vehicles in downtown urban areas. This includes all ride sharing vehicles. California permits EV vehicles (but not hybrids) with one occupant to be in the HOV lane as another example of encouraging them.

    Also homeowners need to transition away from natural gas use. Replace gas stoves, water heaters and clothes driers with electric appliances. While it is not practical to replace home gas furnaces in most cases new homes can be built with far better insulation to make electric heating more affordable. Example: Use 2″ x 6″ exterior studs instead of 2 x 4 studs to give more insulation space and use the best insulation materials and design. Triple pane windows with Tedlar type film to keep out summer heat and keep in winter warmth are another way to approach a LEED certified home. Maybe we can’t have that certification in average homes but there needs to be insulating standards nationwide, just as there are accepted and adopted nationwide structural standards.

     

    #3695020
    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member

    @ngatel

    Locale: Southern California

    Trump let the EV and roof top solar power incentives begin to sunset. Biden will try to pass new legislation to renew and/or increase these incentives.

    So here’s the schedule for roof top solar:

    • 30% tax credit for 2019 installs
    • 26% tax credit for 2020 installs
    • 22% tax credit for 2021 installs
    • 20% tax credit for 2022 installs

    After that, the credits end unless Congress renews itTrump did not let them “sunset.” The President cannot pass legislation. Biden does not have the authority or power to renew or increase them either.

     

    California permits EV vehicles (but not hybrids) with one occupant to be in the HOV lane as another example of encouraging them

    Wrong. There are dozens of plug-in hybrids that qualify to get a California Clean Air Vehicle (CAV) decal to allow single occupancy use in HOV lanes. On the other hand, many of California’s HOV lanes have been converted to HOV/Toll Road Lanes so affluent single occupancy drivers.

     

    You may want to do some research and calculations on the amount of electricity demand if significant numbers of cars, buildings, and homes are converted to all-electric. How are we going to generate all of it? How about all the data centers that gobble up electricity? Here’s and interesting article:

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06610-y

     

    It’s a complex problem and there are no simple solutions.

     

     

    #3695026
    Bonzo
    BPL Member

    @bon-zo

    Locale: Virgo Supercluster

    Interesting link, Nick; I didn’t know the consumption was that high in those locations.  I’ll have to look more into that.  Meanwhile:

    States and municipalities now need to do their part to add incentives such as permitting ONLY busses and EV vehicles in downtown urban areas.

    That’s not an incentive; that’s a restriction…and in my opinion it is a mostly-untenable one.  It may work well enough for people that live within urban areas, but for the large number of people that commute to urban areas from dispersed, outlying communities with no reasonable access to mass transit, such a restriction is a massive hurdle.  Attempting to offset it with electric vehicle permits doesn’t help unless you already own an electric vehicle; for lower-income persons that commute to jobs inside urban areas, this could be seriously problematic.

    As Nick said: there are no simple solutions…and I believe that the answers to the environmental issues facing us – and many others, as well – do not lie within legislation, but rather education.  Legislation doesn’t create behavior on an individual level, and it’s really not very good at doing so on a massive level, either…but an educated and informed population doesn’t require the efforts of legislation in order to make changes that are positive and supportive to all parties within society.

    Also – again, paraphrasing Nick – you can lay the issue at Trump’s feet all you like, but if you want to do so you must include the actions of Congress and – when necessary – our courts: in order to be fair in speaking, you must look at our government as a whole…and by extension, you must include within your gaze the people whom emplace and empower said government.

    #3695043
    Karen
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    I wonder how many people will continue to work at home, alleviating traffic in the urban cores, and minimizing the need for additional mass transit. I was amazed visiting San Francisco in August, how easy the driving was, both in the city center, out to Ocean Beach where we stayed, and driving up to Sonoma County. I expected heavy horrid traffic as it has been for many years. It was a breeze even for a country rube like me (although I still stayed in the right hand lane!).

    We also used to get dozens of sales visits from vendors in the lower 48. Now all those transactions are on Zoom. Will those companies return to expensive business travel or stick with mostly from-home work, and larger conferences for in-person sales? Less air travel.

    Some of the changes Covid-19 has brought about could be permanent, which could make a significant difference. It will be interesting to see what changes stick, and what goes back to “normal.” I’m hoping for change.

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