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View Diary: IPCC report shows action on climate change is not spending, it's investing (76 comments)

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  •  We forget this way too often, Kovie. (6+ / 0-)

    We start thinking of money, or stocks, or even bonds as "capital", when they're just markers for capital we've agreed to use.

    It's like being in ancient Mesopotamia and confusing the little clay envelope with clay cones in it for the sheep or sheaves or wheat.

    This hit me today when someone made the claim that capital "could easily flee high taxes".

    Most of the really important forms of capital are either impossible or extremely difficult to move at all!

    "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

    by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:36:12 PM PDT

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    •  Sadly, even physical capital can be moved (5+ / 0-)

      By moving their ownership offshore. The Empire State Building can't be moved, but its ownership can be moved from being US to foreign-based (hasn't that actually already happened to it?). Today's lax banking laws allow that.

      I'm guessing that even public infrastructure can be "moved" offshore this way, although I'm not expert enough to know how. But as an example, wouldn't China technically own a non-voting share of our infrastructure through the T-bills they've bought to pay for much of it?. However, their ownership IS non-voting, meaning that they can't (yet) tell us how to spend that money on what infrastructure. But I can see how they someday could, with free trade deals giving them such powers. It's quite scary.

      In any case, the larger point is that money is just one form of capital, that in itself helps no one, because as you said it's just a marker for something of real value. $5 to buy a sandwich doesn't feed you. The sandwich that you bought with it does. If you don't spend that $5, you might be $5 richer, but you'll be $5 hungrier. Do that often enough and you'd die, and all that money you "saved" wouldn't do you any good (but your heirs might appreciate it!).

      No different with infrastructure and other forms of "real" capital. Fail to convert money to enough of it, and your country could effectively die. Economies aren't static. They can't be. If monetary and physical capital aren't converted into each other often and properly enough, the economy will fail.

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:48:48 PM PDT

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      •  heh. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YucatanMan
        Do that often enough and you'd die, and all that money you "saved" wouldn't do you any good (but your heirs might appreciate it!).
        If they didn't like ya much ;)

        "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

        by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:51:32 PM PDT

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      •  This is a good point. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YucatanMan, JesseCW, kovie, flowerfarmer

        Here in Southern California, over the last 50 or so years, there's been a fight over the extension of the 710 freeway.  The opponents have defeated the surface version of this project - which would have almost obliterate a small town - and the proponents (basically, Caltrans) are now pushing a very expensive tunnel version, to be funded largely from tolls.

        As more information comes out, it becomes apparent that foreign investment interest may be willing to construct the project, to be paid off by tolls, although the taxpayers would be on the hook if the tolls fall short.  It seems that this project is becoming driven more by the opportunity of the private sector - foreign and domestic - to make considerable profits, and less on the transportation merits of the project itself.

        Infrastructure is capital, but the cost/benefit analysis as to whether the investment is wise still needs to look at non-monetary impacts as well.

        The most violent element in society is ignorance.

        by Mr MadAsHell on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 04:05:21 PM PDT

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        •  You don't want me to get started on that one. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mary Mike, flowerfarmer

          Part of me succumbs to pointing out that for 70 years the fine people of Pasadena have been thrilled to see less affluent communities gutted to allow the building of freeways that would connect Pasadena to the rest of Los Angeles, starting with the historic 110.

          When it's their turn to have the heart ripped out of their fine 'burg....things are all of a sudden very different.  Freeways leading to Pasadena are public goods, freeways cutting across Pasadena are blights.

          I'm also aware of the congestion cost of the 710 never being completed, and the fact that massive amounts of truck traffic are being shoved onto the 5 where poor brown kids can suck down the exhaust instead (Yay!  Second highest childhood asthma rates in the nation!  Woo Hoo!), and where overall pollution for the whole LA basin is made worse thanks to needless congestion.

          On the other hand, there has to be a time when the Southland as a whole says "Enough fucking freeways.  Maybe we shouldn't drive every-damn-where.  We can't escape gridlock through more lanes of interstate."

          "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

          by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:12:40 PM PDT

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          •  Of course, it's much smaller South Pasadena ... (4+ / 0-)

            ...that gets sliced and divided if the 710 is extended. Pasadena would be far less affected.

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:27:57 PM PDT

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            •  Everything from Columbia on up is Pasadena. (0+ / 0-)

              It's not nothing, and plenty of Pasadenas residents are opposed.

              Of course, comments about affluent suburbs that think freeways are meant to serve them at the expense of others....kinda goes double for South Pasadena.

              "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

              by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:04:27 PM PDT

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          •  Your last paragraph is spot on. (0+ / 0-)

            That's the line in the sand the opponents are taking.

            Fact of the matter is, you can spend $12B on this fucking tunnel and it'll be a parking lot the day it opens, as will the 210 going both ways.  And the 5 won't be one iota better.  And congestion won't be any better either, so don't kid yourself that the 710 is going to make anything better.  Building more freeways is like dieting by letting your belt out another notch.

            It's time to stop catering to the auto, even if it pisses people off.  

            The most violent element in society is ignorance.

            by Mr MadAsHell on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:41:39 PM PDT

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            •  Getting half the truck traffic off the 5 (0+ / 0-)

              would easy shit up.

              Build the tunnel, two lanes each way, and limit the damned thing to trucks and busses.  Exhaust would get filtered.  Construction costs would be slashed massively compared to the three lanes each way current proposal.

              Never, ever, ever going to happen.

              Right now, there's a genuine issue.  Through truck traffic  going out and over the grapevine has to move over to the 5, or else take a massive detour via the 605.

              It means a lot of idling diesels.  And that's bad news.

              "High deductibles kill low income patients." FishOutOfWater

              by JesseCW on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:10:31 PM PDT

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              •  Only in the short run, Jesse. (0+ / 0-)

                In the longer run (say, 5 plus years after the 710) the 5 will be just as congested, with air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions just as bad, and the same will be occurring all over the region as well.  And, no, exhaust will not be completely filtered, there will be exhaust pipes still spewing PM10 and other particles along the route - including right across the street from Huntington Hospital where the 710 would pop out of the tunnel.

                The 710 is a $12B boondoggle to line the pockets of foreign investors.  What we really need is a new paradigm for moving people and freight (from the ports of LA and Long Beach, the source of much of the 5 freeway's truck traffic).  And it's time, now, to draw that line in the sand and say "no more."  If we're going to move to a new paradigm, then $12B would be a nice down payment.

                The most violent element in society is ignorance.

                by Mr MadAsHell on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 08:44:33 AM PDT

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        •  Absolutely (0+ / 0-)

          I meant useful, necessary and beneficial infrastructure, because that which is not is a drain on monetary capital and takes away from projects that are these things, and can have negative impacts, such as destroying neighborhoods.

          But, technically, bad infrastructure is still capital.

          "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

          by kovie on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:15:26 PM PDT

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