Anarcho-capitalism is a political ideology that falls under the category of libertarianism. I'll state now that I'm against this idea and I want to do my best to not build a straw man. I want to accurately describe the ideology, which I'm going to do now.

A libertarian society is one with a government that is in charge of protecting rights and that's the only role. The government does this is through a legislative branch, an executive branch, and judicial branch. This means laws that are designed to protect individual rights, police and military to protect these rights from violators, and a courts to prosecute those that violate rights. This society has retaliatory force (ie: the force used to protect rights) held in a monopoly by the government (aside from immediate self defense).

The anarcho-capitalist society is the same as the libertarian society, but the big difference is that the operations of government (police, courts, laws) become market players. Putting it simply, the monopoly on government is broken and consumers in society can choose these services from private businesses described as 'private defense forces', use arbitration in private courts and pay in (or participate) in some sort of larger threat (like war).

This form of 'anarchism' varies from the communist version of the same concept because this ideology is focused on property rights - something which doesn't exist in the communist version.

What separates a standard libertarian that believes in government and an anarcho-capitalist is the non-aggression principle (NAP) (also known as zero-aggression principle). The view is that an individual being denied the ability to fund their own government/police/etc is a violation of NAP. Simply put; a government monopoly is a violation of rights.

The Case Against

I'm going to argue from the perspective of rights. Since the anarcho-capitalist justifies their ideology on using rights and defending their use - I will argue from that perspective.

My case; anarcho-capitalism doesn't protect rights by design and therefore should be rejected by its followers.

This whole situation boils down to three things; rights, force and epistemic application of the two former.

Rights

Rights are actions that an individual can make unimpeded by other individuals, up to the point where it violates the rights of others [See further reading at the bottom for more detail]. The one thing to take away is that rights are not subjective. They're not vague. They're well defined. Yet, in a market place rights are not necessarily interpreted the same way. Do animals have rights equal to that of humans? Well, if you're willing to pay - yes. Is it a capital offense to draw a picture of the prophet Muhammad? Well, if you're willing to pay - yes.

We're left in a position of where do rights come from. Do rights come before the concept of politics? Obviously rights do, since rights were used to describe and build this anarcho-capitalist ideology, yet this ideal society leaves rights as subjective constructs to be purchased on whim from businesses offering services for a profit.

I'm left thinking, does one have the right to choose their rights or does one have the right to choose rights?

Force

There is more to this discussion. Rights are the actions individuals can make, but there is also the framework for dealing with violators and ensuring justice is properly applied. When learning about anarcho-capitalism you'll hear the term 'private defense agency' or something along these lines. I find this word quite heavily marketed and used strategically. What we're talking about is agents of force. They can be massive businesses with thousands of employees or it could be a simple one man operation.

Consumers are paying for this force, but they're not paying for the force to be used on themselves. They're paying for force to be used on other people. They're going to use it on people they deem to be immoral or rights violators. A simple example of this is a dynamic between a PETA member and a farmer. A PETA member is going to purchase force from an agent that believes animals and humans have equal rights. And a farmer is going to purchase force from an agent that views animals as property. How does a dynamic like this work? Does the PETA agent kidnap arrest the farmer and lock him up? Can the PETA member just save themselves money and kidnap arrest the farmer?

Private arbitration may be brought up at this point, but it's not really an applicable application - as both sides view of rights are going to violated. And there is a laundry list of other issues that this may apply. Just think abortion.

Since people are purchasing their own subjective rights, we have force used in subjective ways. How this is a defense of rights is beyond me.

It's also worth mentioning where does the right to choose force come from? Does one have the right to choose rights violating force?

Due Process (Epistemic)

Lastly, the process of dealing with issues, wronged parties, crime and investigation require due process for rights to be protected. If someone steals my property (let's say a pig from my farm), I lose. My agency can kidnap arrest the PETA member that stole it, but their agent of force views animals as not property. So what happens? No answer.

Private arbitration requires parties to have a contract or understanding of terms. There are no terms between the two. We're left with no answer.

The market will figure it out is not an answer - it's too important for rights.

Crimes happen all the time, so what happens there? Someone is murdered on your lawn. It's your property and if you want to suspend people from coming on your property - you can. Does the property owners agent of force investigate? Or the victim's agent of force? Or the murderer's agent of force? No answer. 

How is a case built? How is evidence seized? Who issues a warrant? What's the standard for a warrant? Who does the autopsy? Who owns the dead body? No answer.

The market will figure it out is not an answer - it's too important when we talk of rights. 

Warrants are a real thing in a free society and how/when and to what standard is important. It grants the force and authority to enter someone's private property and seize assets. Crime scenes require property owners to temporarily lose their property rights over the scene while investigators work. Subpoenas require people to testify against their will.

Conclusion

Anarcho-capitalism is founded on the premise that choice in the marketplace for force is a right, like all others rights. My argument centered on this act of choosing force destroys all rights. The proper description for what is accomplished is nihilism. Rights become a meaningless concept of mere whim in the market place. Ethical force becomes another meaningless concept because all it turns into is what someone is willing to pay for - and really they don't have to pay - they can be an agent of force themselves.

The total lack of answers of how rights are protected is troubling, other than pay for a lot of fire power, which results in non-definitions, non-understanding and non-objective laws as the intended consequences. "The market will figure it out" is the end result to sum up the simple nihilism.

I'd also like to add for those anarcho-capitalists thinking; 'well all your objections happen in government right now, so what's the difference?" Exactly, what's the difference? Anarcho-capitalism, by design, doesn't fix the vary problems it's proponents complain about and only results in the choice of force on other people. For me, it's in no way a step up and results in far less rights for everyone.

Further Reading

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Posted by Christopher | 10:58 AM | , | 0 comments »


There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding the expansion of the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), so I felt this was an appropriate discussion. CPP is a program for people living outside of Quebec aged 18 to 70. Anyone earning work income have to pay into the CPP program.

Currently, as an employee, you'll pay 4.95% of your pre-tax income to CPP with a basic exemption on the first $3500 up to a total income of $54,900 (as of 2016 - this is an indexed to inflation number). This equates to a maximum of $2544.30 for 2016 as an employee. An employer also has to pay into the CPP program, for the employee, the same amount. This amounts to a max of $5088.60 for 2016.

The push for exanding CPP has been mainly been from large unions; such as CUPE and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The desired CPP expansion from the CLC is to double contributions. They also wish to increase CPP replacement rate (essentially pay out) to grow from 25% to 50% (also doubling). The argument for this expansion is that some studies show that Canadians won't be able to save enough for retirement.

The Case Against

When it comes to the actual argument for the expansion of CPP, I wouldn't deny that some don't save enough for retirement. From my own personal experience people seem to put a lot more value into a hard asset like a house, rather than actual retirement savings (more liquid investment vehicles). With that said, The School of Public Policy, at the University of Calgary published a study titled "Expanding Canada Pension Plan Retirement Benefits: Assessing Big CPP Proposals" by Jonathan Kesselman. It stated the following when analyzing the studies addressed in the main argument:
Several studies have examined how well the Canadian retirement income system has been fulfilling the income replacement goal, and how well it is likely to perform in future years. The studies reach varying conclusions on the adequacy and/or deficiencies of the current system. However, they agree that the system performs adequately for the lowest earners (mainly through the OAS/GIS and with some CPP benefits) in maintaining pre-retirement living standards. While most studies find adequate income replacement for most middle-income earners on average, they also find that a significant proportion of middle- and upper-middle-income earners face deficiencies in sustaining pre-retirement living standards.
Summing it up, lower income individuals (often the poster child of retirement poverty) are the ones that do fine with their retirement. They receive pre-retirement living standards. For those in the middle class and upper middle class tend to have a harder time maintaining their pre-retirement standard of living.

CUPE uses the phrase "can't afford" and afford is based on the standard of living a retiree chooses to have. A low income person isn't going to experience any sort of strain unless they adopt a more expensive retirement. The 'deficiencies' between pre and post living standards for middle and upper-middle class is the progression of their career salary. For example, an engineers last 10 years of working should be their highest paid years. This peak in salary is not exactly a standard for retirement income requirements.

My first point regarding people not being able to afford retirement is that it really isn't true. Lower income individuals will experience similar outcomes. Middle class and above individuals will experience a decline in living standards only because we are measuring pre-retirement income - which should be at a peak.

Choice

I think microeconomics plays a big part of this and it's the concept of choice. People trade finite items for other finite items. We trade our time, money, experiences - everything because we can't do everything and have everything. Saving more for retirement, through the government, is forced. The concept of choice is taken away from the individual. That individual is impeded in making the important choices in their life.

Saving more for retirement might be good for some people, but not all. We all work hard today for our income, but what is the appropriate amount to trade today for tomorrow? Or better put, how much do I live today versus how much I prepare for tomorrow? There's no universal answer to this question. Each individual has to make this choice based on their values. Some may want a modest retirement, while others want to travel the world. Others may die before they ever receive it.

When looking at doubling CPP we're looking at nearly 10% of salary deduction and another 10% from an employer - we're looking at massive chunk of cash. If we ignore the employers cut and the implication of costs (lost salary of employees - as CPP matching is a cost), we're talking about 10% of an individuals income, along with regular income taxes, EI deductions, and other benefit deductions

Expanding CPP makes individuals more dependent on government to take care of them in retirement because they have even less after tax income to allocate as they see fit.

Another side of this choice permise is that an individual should be able to use their own judgment on what they do with their money and live with results of such a choice. CPP forces an individual into the government program. This program may have changing standards in the future (such as an increased benefit age), which lowers your overall return. An individual may not receive back a decent return because the program does have aspects of wealth redistribution.

An individual should be able to use the money that goes into an expanded CPP to spend on the here and now, or invest it for the future how they see fit. This could mean risky stock market investments, safe bonds, in their own businesses, or into their house - which they may sell in the future to fund their retirement.

Conclusion

An expansion of CPP is something that reduces an individual's choices in life. They are forced to buy into a government program that may not provide the necessary flexibility or return that their own personal choices may desire. This lack of choice is fundamentally taking away from an individual to live on their own judgment. The proponents of expanding CPP argue that many Canadians won't be able to afford retirement, which isn't what the studies actually show. Many Canadians may have trouble maintaining the standards of living of their peak income years, but the case hasn't been made whether this is a problem or that it needs to be fixed.

Summing it up simply, the best person to determine the course of an individual's retirement is the vary person that is going to live it.

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Posted by Christopher | 10:53 AM | , | 0 comments »


Taxes are something we all live with and pay. This includes young earners and the biggest businesses in the country. I hear politicians say that we need to cut taxes, others say we need to tax some demographic and others want to give tax credits to incentivize certain activities. One thing that is rarely discussed is the overall complexity of the current tax code and how complex should it be.

The only time I heard of someone really talking about reducing the complexity of the tax code happened in the States by Rudy Giuliani in his 2008 Republican primary run. A lot of it reduced taxes, but the main premise behind it is that a person could do their taxes on a single page of paper. Other than Rudy, I haven't seem someone advocate for that reduced complexity. *That's not to say someone else's plan wouldn't reduce complexity - I'm emphasizing the advocation of such an idea.

The Case

Taxes are not an automatic process. You may have taxes automatically taken off your paycheck, but that doesn't mean a business didn't provide labour for this. You may use tax software to handle your taxes, but that doesn't mean labour wasn't used.

Beneficial labour is the labour that is used to create something that doesn't exist (wealth). Every job from an engineer (designing something that doesn't exist) to a janitor (making a place clean) is creating something that doesn't exist. Labour dedicated to tax is wasted labour. It doesn't benefit your standard of living. It doesn't make us richer. Imagine going to the grocery story, but nothing had prices. In fact, your cost is based on very complex rules and you have to pay someone to figure out your exact amount. Crazy right, but that's sort of what taxes are like. We also have to consider the lost labour on the government's side to figure out whether people are doing their taxes correctly.
Spending time/money to figure out the cost of taxes is a loss to you and everyone else. Therefore it should be desired to reduce the amount of man hours spent on taxes - since this labour could be used for more important wealth building tasks.

According to the Fraser Institute, the size (text area) of the Income Tax Act and associated regulations grew 62% from 1990 to 2014 [2]. It is estimated that the average person invests roughly 8 hours to their taxes. And this doesn't include the man hours that businesses and the CRA put into the tax process either. It has been estimated that the economy lost between $5.84 billion and $6.96 billion in 2012 [3].

Tax Revenue is independent of simplicity

This particular case isn't trying to make the case for lowering taxes and shrinking the size of government. That's a different discussion. Simple taxes can be used to raise revenue much more efficiently. If you think about roughly ~$6 billion in untaxed "expenses" currently, being used in taxable wealth creation, we should see a net gain to the society with the exact same revenue.

It makes sense for both big government liberals and small government conservatives to support a simple tax code.

What would be a simple tax code?

The idea to simplify taxes is to make it more equal. We have a ton of tax credits for everything from putting your kids into sports (currently removed by 2016 budget), to adopting a child. The idea is to get rid of all, or at least most of these little tax credits being offered. Most of these little tax credits are not even understood by the average tax payer and require the paid expertise to guarantee they get it.

Business expenses are a type of deduction from their taxes. No a business shouldn't have to pay for expenses, as it is a cost of doing business, but there are complexities within what is an expense and what is capital. Eliminating the concept of a capital cost depreciation would save a lot of headache. For those unfamiliar, if you bought a computer for $1000 as a business, you can only write off a depreciated amount of expense per year. Now multiply that for chairs, tables, monitors, printers, and other types of capital. There are easier ways to deal with such items.

Lastly, a simplification of the tax code. Flat taxes are very easy to administer and understand. It's something that the Alberta government has had since the Klein era (though made progressive by the NDP government). It's a simple tax for deductions on paychecks. That's not to say that a simple tax code couldn't be somewhat progressive, but typically the less brackets - the better.

The best part of simplifying the tax code is that we (all of us) can save taxes. Since there are less wasted man hours on the labour of taxes, there is less need to tax quite as much to get the same amount of tax revenue.
Additional Reading & Sources
  1. Image from the Fraser Institute at Measuring Tax Complexity in Canada
  2. Rudy Giuliani on Tax Reform
  3. Cost to Canadians to Comply with Personal Income Taxes

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Posted by Christopher | 10:50 AM | , , | 0 comments »


Small government is a term that I see used far too often. When a question of government comes up, smaller is the answer and I find that this is advocation of nothing good. Do I want a small government? Yes, but it's not a position to advocate. This will be a relatively short topic as this is a pet peeve for me.

My big issue is that small government isn't really a position, other than smaller. When people use this term they don't literally mean smaller government. Today, the size of government is relatively large, so of course smaller is the goal. But this doesn't answer how small the government should be. Where is the limit? What should a small government be doing? These positions, the more important positions, are left undefined. I've personally seen people advocating very stupid positions because smaller is better.

Limited Government

Here's the big difference; advocating for something rather than some abstract view like smaller government creates understanding. When one talks of limited government they aren't advocating smaller government; they're advocating the specific role and boundaries of government.

These roles/boundaries will most likely result in a smaller government, but the goal isn't to make government small. When the question of how big should the government be? Well, the answer is simply, as big as it needs to be to do it's job.

In conclusion, advocate the role and boundaries of government, rather than some abstract idea of always being smaller. Smaller isn't a meaningful position - but a well defined government is something meaningful, understood and more worthy of winning over people in discussions.

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Posted by Christopher | 10:46 AM | , | 0 comments »


The act of turning people onto philosophy is one that is unrewarding. It's even harder with people that think they have it all figured out - especially those with interests in politics, you'll be greatly rewarded for taking on the task. I'm by no means an expert on philosophy, but I'm always learning - learning about myself.
Philosophy has taught me to:
  • Develop my ideas and views to well-reasoned positions.
  • Since my positions are better, I can argue them better.
  • And since my positions are better, I can defend them better.
When someone new encounters philosophy that most likely end up overwhelmed. Tough questions, different responses and many feel that it's all a matter of opinion. "Do you exist or are you in the matrix? How do you know?" "Is murder morally wrong? Why? How do you know?" It's not an easy field to learn.

There was a great comment on reddit that I had to save because this was the question brought up, "isn't it all a matter of opinion?" and I thought the reply was worth wild.
I think a lot of people, when they first encounter philosophy, aren't really sure what to make of it. For most of their education, and life generally, they are used to taking claims mainly based on authority. So, the textbook says something, or the teacher says something, or your parents say something, or your priest says something, and that's that. You might ask some internal questions about what they say, but rarely are you going to raise your hand in a physics class and ask "but, really, what is 'knowledge'?"

So, people come in to philosophy, and they are thrown. It's one of the first time people are being asked to think for themselves and really inquire about the foundations of thought. You are being asked to evaluate an argument, defend claims, make cogent objections, and articulate reasonable positions. And without being able to rely on authority, a lot of people get lost and confused. Not seeing a clear answer, they then say, "well, I guess it's just all opinion." And this is, in some sense, an intellectually cowardly answer. It's often a sort of thought that goes "well, if there is no one to tell me what the answer is, then there must not be an answer."
What is gained in philosophical study is your thought process working in a much more reasonable manner. Inevitably you'll learn that all views and positions are reflected in the way one thinks; from their religious views to politics. The real value to those interested in politics is better understanding the fundamentals. Political positions are a meaningless point to start with people - even though that seems to be where everyone starts. Political positions are the result of hierarchically more important views and positions - something many people don't understand.

There's a foundation of metaphysics (reality, the universe), epistemology (what is knowledge, how do you know what you know), and ethics/morals (the good and bad behaviors). Politics is merely another piece on top of these concepts, in particular the ethics/morals.

Making Arguments and Critiquing Arguments

My understanding of arguments has grown so much that it is the most valuable skill I've attained from philosophical study that I can apply to my interests in politics. When it comes to exchanging ideas and winning people to better ideas, arguments need to be presented.

The most alarming thing to take away is how your arguments lack any sort of credibility as an argument. Just poor assumptions and weak premises - no wonder I wasn't able to convince anyone of any ideas. Why does this happen? It happens because you challenge your own ideas and the reasons that lead you to believe it. It's not about your partisan politics, it's about the best idea. You challenge yourself because you want to know. When you're ideas are backed up with sound reasoning, you then form proper premises and harder to dismiss arguments.

The counter is true of your opponents. You start to see the fractures in people's arguments they give to you. The amount of times that I would end up in endless conversations about topics where someone had premises that didn't even lead to the conclusion. An example of this would be the is-ought problem, also know as the naturalistic fallacy. This is where someone takes a fact of reality (the is) and turns that fact into some sort of ethical action/behavior/policy (the ought), even though is doesn't get you to ought without some sort of ethical view to qualify what to do with the is.

Conclusion

Philosophy is the study of the more fundamental questions of existence, knowledge, values, ethics, etc. Most people never put more than a momentary thought in these questions. A person that challenges these ideas, understands them and hears a new perspective is going to be able to solidify their views and positions.

The value is the ideas and views you hold become much more stronger. Since they're stronger and better understood, you're better at arguing them and dealing with counter arguments.

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Posted by Christopher | 10:43 AM | | 0 comments »


Something that is going to become a big topic in a few years, whenever the LPC decides to act on their election promise,is  to change the way our votes are counted. The current system of elections we have is known as the first past the post (FPTP). It's a really easy system to understand. We have constituencies (also known as ridings) for a specific geographical area and the person that receives the most votes win.

When I was younger and in school, I took a lot of political science courses just because it interested me. I had the chance to learn about other electoral systems like the United States, Italy and Germany.
The main criticisms of FPTP is that people end up winning seats without getting a majority of votes in their riding. For example, some will complain that more 'left of center' votes were cast, yet the Conservative Party won. Another example is that voting for your preferred choice, if more fringe or small, is essentially throwing your vote away. These criticisms of FPTP are true and completely fair.

I'm going to argue for FPTP, but that's not me saying it is perfect. There are deep flaws in every voting system that doesn't necessarily provide the best results - especially when there are different views on what is expected to be the result of an election. There is one observation I have, and the drive to remove FPTP are from those that are losing elections and I don't think that's the best direction to approach it.

I have a few particular angles and views on this issue, so I'll break that out for you.

Political outcomes are determined by culture, not the election system

This is my main issue with changing the election system is that it really doesn't matter. The culture of people in society inevitably determine elections. Sure your person or your party may not be the one that gets in, but it's the nature of politics. The parties and people that want to get elected must reflect the people of the riding. They must represent those views.

A false strawman is that political opponents are far off base. This alleged statement gives the impression of an injustice when there really isn't. The Conservative Party of Canada may have very conservative or have libertarian leaning individuals, but it had to govern in the center. It may be a little center-right, but that's the nature of politics. The Liberal Party of Canada may have some idealistic socialists, but it will govern from the center - even if it is a little center-left.

I'm of the view that if you want to change policies of parties, you need to change the views of society. If you want a more libertarian society, you're going to need to change society and convince people of these ideas - and politicians will follow through. If you want a more socialist society, you're going to need to change society and convince people of these ideas - and politicians will follow through.
The center is where society lives. When you convince society of socialist/libertarian ideas, than the center becomes that with parties that live on different sides of that center point.

FPTP is decisive, easy and creates governments that can act(stability)

You vote, and winner takes all. It's easy to understand. The type of election outcomes are better governments that can act because we are most likely going to end up with a majority (at least most of the time). Countries like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have survived wars, internal conflict and transitions of government easily under the system of FPTP. Countries that don't have it have happened to fall into chaos, become occupied and end up in deadlock.

Problems with Proportional Representation

Another popular voting system is proportional representation. This is a party based voting and the percentage of each party goes to Parliament. Many argue that this is a better representation of votes. The problem with this type of system is how a government can act.  Italy has something similar to this idea. What does this produce? Minority governments that can't act, much bickering and gridlocking, and elections in very short orders of time.

A purely proportional representation system eliminates the concept of independents and individuals from the system. It becomes parties and parties only. Maybe you like a party, but really have a problem with specific people in the party. Well, you don't have a choice in that. As well, you have to consider that someone has to represent your local area. The Green Party should receive roughly 5% of all seats, but it mainly gets 5% in all ridings. So - some areas of the country will end up with a Green Party representative - even though 95% of the riding didn't vote for them.

Pure proportional representation is easy to understand, but for the problems above it becomes complex. No one does pure proportional representation and make it complicated. Italy, for example, has 2 rounds of voting, party based proportional representation with a majority bonus and a 3% election threshold. Not so simple anymore. I'm not trying to pick on proportional representation (it is the most popular), but these points need to be thought out.

Proponents contend that you can vote for your most representative party of your views and in Parliament they'll have to work together, blending views, moderating and that's how they govern. I would argue this is what we have already in Canada and the United States, only that this process happens before the election. It's more apparent in the United States where there are big elections within the two main parties, picking a leader and direction. A ton of interested people in the election vote in the party primaries to choose how the party will be.

I would argue that this is far more preferable to democracy because on election day I know what I'm getting. After election bargaining and compromises may result in something I don't support. For example, let's say I really believe in polices A, B and C, but I also hate with a passion policies and E. How do two parties supporting these different ideas compromise? I may find a compromise of AB and as tolerable, but deplore a combination of BC and E. If you're curious what situation this could be, a simple example would be very liberal social programs and welfare combined with open borders - or something along those lines.

Another issue with proportional representation is the addition of extreme parties and extreme views. From Nazis to Marxists we end up with elected officials (and yes the Nazi and Marxist representative) has to represent some area of the country. In other systems the fringe would be kept off the map as insignificant.

Ranked Ballot Creates Less Diverse Ideas

Ranked ballot is an interesting one, but something that probably won't be adopted because the complainers (remember the people that lose) will not win with it. The idea is that you don't just vote for your ideal candidate, you rank it. It doesn't necessarily mean you rank them all, but maybe top 3 or something along those lines.

If we look at a few different examples we can see how weak this system actually is. Take a typical conservative: they'd pick maybe a more fringe right wing party as first, Conservative party as second and Liberal party as third. A typical liberal: they'd pick liberal, and second maybe Conservative or NDP. A typical socialist: they'd pick NDP/fringe, NDP and Liberal.

And what we end up with is Liberal wins every time. I heard the argument that it would convince the Conservatives to be more like the Liberal Party. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. But as you can see you just end up with a very generic party that is typical of most parties. It's just another form of finding center, but instead of there being a center , one party (which may not be truly center) becomes center.

Whether that is good or bad, I'll leave to you.

Run off Voting

This is a voting system where there are additional votes until a candidate gets 50%+1 votes. The idea is that they eliminate a low (or multiple) low candidate(s) and people vote again based on the choices. It's a good system I think. It's easy to understand and people will eventually get to the candidate everyone can agree on.

The problem with this type of system is that it's expensive and really hard to do. It's easier at a small event or something along that, but doing a national election like this would require a lot of time, money and we would lose a lot of voters based on the time constraints and complexity. Ranked ballot is a means to deal with the costs and time of run off voting.

Conclusion

I realize I haven't addressed all the different electoral systems that I could possibly do. There are far too many and far too many options applied to each to address everything. FPTP is a good stable system that is easy to understand, easy to apply and creates strong stable governments. It's not a perfect system, but neither are the others.

Each of the proposed other systems have flaws and I think I've demonstrated that they don't necessarily correct issues of FPTP, but create new ones. The main premise seems to be whether we create stable governments or whether your vote enables the best outcome of your views. I think it's a compromise between these two ideas. I want a government that can be stable and be productive, with a representation of the people that vote. I think FPTP provides that.

Either way you lean, you have to consider what you're going to be told in this upcoming debate on electoral reform. You will be told all the negatives of FPTP and all the positives of a proponents desired electoral system. This is marketing. All systems have flaws and I think you'll find, far more than FPTP. Whether we the people will get a choice on this matter remains to be seen, but if we do you should pick FPTP.
Additional Reading
  1. Particracy
  2. Italian Electoral Law
  3. Proportional Representation
  4. Party-List Proportional Representation
  5. Ranked Ballot

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Posted by Christopher | 10:40 AM | , , , , | 0 comments »


I'll start by saying that this isn't an anti-science post. It's based on a false arguing tactic that uses science incorrectly - or to appear as a scientific person, when not.

I have a compelling need to discuss this point as I see this arguing tactic more and more with regular discourse. It's also something that is being accepted more and more as a valid argument - and a winning argument. All I see is an is ought problem.

Philosopher David Hume has written on this subject in his book "A Treatise of Human Nature" and here is a short paragraph:
In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary ways of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I am surprised to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded, that this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality, and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason.
Let's discuss it.

What is 'is'?

Well 'is' is the universe and the reality of it. Water is two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen. Grass is color green. A flu shot reduces your chances of getting the flu. An atom contains electron(s), proton(s) and neutron(s). My television is 55" diagonal. My water bottle holds 621mL.
Science is the study and investigation of the is. The complexity of is can be as simple as 'there are bananas in my kitchen' to the most complex aspects of quantum mechanics.

What is 'ought'?

Ought is a verb. It's an action. It's a decision. It's choice. Should I drink water? Should I cut the grass? Should I get a flu shot? How should I live my life?
Putting it simply, it's what we ought to do.

The is-ought problem

The problem is how one goes from is to ought. As Hume mentioned above "how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are different from it." Essentially, is in and of itself doesn't produce or lead to an ought.

At this point you're probably thinking that facts (the is) are really important for making decisions (the ought). Let's properly bridge the gap between is and ought. The only way to go from is to ought is through ethics/morality/ideology. Simply put is > ethics/morality/ideology > ought.

Sticking with the flu shot example, knowing that the flu shot reduces your chances of getting the flu doesn't tell you to get it. Morally you may value health and feeling good. You also know that getting sick doesn't result in feeling good. Morality gives us this qualifer of the is. So maybe now you think you ought to get a flu shot.

At this point you're possibly thinking, 'okay I get it, but where is anyone actually doing this arguing tactic?'

The Appeal to Science

Science is important to society, our standard of living and I'm a science guy. But since science is important people tend to appeal to it as it being on their side and the unshakeable answer to their positions. Appealing to science is appropriate when you're discussing is and trying to get the proper answer of is, but it's not appropriate to appeal to science as the answer when discussing political policy, the way you live your life or anything resembling a verb.

Recently I was having a discussion regarding high speed internet to rural areas of Alberta. I gave an argument, from an ethics point of view, against the government running fiber out to every rural house and providing internet to people living there. I was met with a repeated rebuttal to take an intro economics course because my position is wrong and economics tells us what we ought to do.

Well economics is a science and all it is capable of is observing the is. You may think that this is one off person, but with the amount of support this person received for their argument - it's viewed as very powerful.

Another example I see a lot is "Economist says we should..." in the news. The one I seen lately reads: "Alberta needs a sales tax, economists argue". Even though this isn't a direct appeal to science, it's still appealing to some sort of authority of science. Economists are important to consult when it comes to taxes. They can tell us about how efficient it will be, how much revenue it will raise, how much varying rates will produce, how much it will suck out of the economy, etc.

A news story stating 'economists say' is really useless without some moral argument. And there really isn't a moral argument given in the above story. It really boils down to 'some people have an opinion'. It's again oriented that some authority has an opinion and we should listen - why? And that's what all this boils down to. Studying economics and being an economist that can tell us how to enact an efficient new tax, doesn't answer the question about whether we should tax more or less.

Evidence Based Policy

The Liberal Party of Canada has abopted a very cute slogan of evidence based policy. If you haven't caught on yet, there is no such thing as evidence based policy. There is such a thing as policy based evidence, which is about as much as we can expect from government.

Evidence happens to be an is and it must be qualified by ethics/morality/ideology in order to make policy (the ought). The very concept of knowing what evidence is requires qualifer from ethics/morality/ideology.

That's why there is no such thing as evidence based policy. We have our views, our morality and ethics. The evidence, the is, will be qualified by our views and evidence is determined by what we're looking for. Inevitably leaving us with policy based evidence.

The False Attempt of Deriving Morality from Science

This is something that I've seen come up over the last few years. The hypothesis is that as we learn more about our mind, our biology and how they work together we can piece out morality. This part of my article is a bit more than what I was planning to go into, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
A proponent of this is Sam Harris. I really like Sam. I've read a few of his books. I enjoy his perspective and arguments as an athiest because I see him trying to fight against the moral relativism and nihilism that seems to fester with many athiests. But when it comes to science derived morality I find his argument poor.

When I've seen him debate this topic, especially where there is a philosopher arguing against him, it becomes apparent what he's doing. Sam has set the moral ground as utilitarian and uses very agreeable cherry picked examples. An example would be that science shows us that your body releases endorphines when exercising and when you sit around eating fast food you feel bad - therefore science has shown that it's morally good to exercise and not sit around eating fast food.
Agreeability in this case is the tactic because what is left undefined is why something is morally good. When you move away from very agreeable examples you see very little value from any sort of deriving of morality from science. When should one commit suicide? How can science alone answer that question?

An Example in Action


Here's a simple tweet I saw show up on my feed. Magic. A pure attempt at appealing to science and the is as a means to ought. The information is important for making decisions, but again only the ethical/moral reasoning can make that case. I chose this example precisely because this guy proudly has this pinned and shows you how successful this naturalistic fallacy (the is-ought problem) really can be.

Conclusion

A person cannot derive action (the ought) from an is. When you're having a discussion with someone they cannot use a fact or a piece of science (the is) in and of itself as a reason to have a political policy or an action you should do (the ought). The only means of bridging the gap between is and ought is through ethics/morality/ideology.

The facts of reality (science) are very important for decision making, but you need to qualify and understand these facts through a framework of ethics/morality/ideology. A discussion of what we ought to do as policy or decisions is always a discussion of ethics/morals/ideology. Do not appeal to science as the answer because it is not. Also don't be fooled if someone appeals to science as a means of arguing.
Additional Reading

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Posted by Christopher | 10:34 AM | , , | 0 comments »


The process of creating and building a structure requires a different approach as a consumer. I'm arguing that the government should do contract bidding in the marketplace and be transparent with the people.

As a regular consumer, if you have a problem with your car, you can go pick up the parts online, take it to a variety of different mechanics and service it in the future at a different location. A consumer can look around at a variety of features, benefits, prices, timelines and a near infinite amount of other metrics.

What is Contract Bidding?

When it comes to buildings, infrastructure and many of the items that the government builds there is a different approach. The way it works with private business is that they solicit bids from private contractors for various stages of the process. For example, architects will be contacted and will provide a cost to design, a timeline, a portfolio and whatever other information the government requests of them. This works for a variety of disciplines; the architect designs the building, the structural engineer designs the strutural requirements, the mechanical and electrical design more of the nervous system of the building.

And this is just the process of design. When it is designed, again another solicitation of bidding occurs for the contractors that put the designs together. Things like plumbers, electricians, HVAC, carpenters, general contractor and on and on.

Contract bidding is the equivalent of shopping around for the best deal. Best is described as the desired metrics by the client (government). That doesn't necessarily mean the cheapest price, but if desired this would be the way to find it.

If Contract Bidding isn't used, what is done?

When the government doesn't have a bidding process it essentially picks someone. This act alone doesn't necessarily show corruption, as private developers sometimes do the same thing. For example, if you work with an architect that you like, you may just want to use them (though typically bids are still solicited, most of the time, to ensure price competitiveness).

You can probably guess what happens with a corrupt government, they hand off the job to a friend or political ally at an inflated cost to taxpayers. The biggest issue, even when the process isn't even corrupt, is that there are no means to justify the choice to taxpayers. For example, the Peace Bridge in Calgary was a no-bid contract. The city wanted to use the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who is well known and expensive (he's earned it), but how does the city justify the choosing metrics - other than just vanity? How does a taxpayer know that they got their monies worth at $30,400 per sq. foot? The Peace Bridge, a pedestrian bridge, is one of the most expensive (per square meter) pedestrian bridges in the world - precisely because there was no bidding process.

Contract Bidding Isn't Enough - Transparency is needed

The bidding process doesn't provide any immunity from overspending or corruption. Bids can still be solicited and contracts awarded to political allys. Bids are always selected on a quality metric defined by the client (the government). The cheapest bid isn't (and shouldn't) be automatically selected. This bid may contain an unexceptable timeline, an inexperienced contractor or even the general belief that the work could be done at that price.

Transparency makes bids public. That doesn't mean that bids are made public prior to being awarded - as this provides unfair advantages. When the bids are released after being awarded (how long? I don't know what would be appropriate) this allows the media and taxpayers to question it. This means that politicians will have to justify the choice. Why did they choose bid #1 over bid #2? Well, because of metric A, B and C.

Conclusion

When the choice to have a bidding process versus no bidding process, the best choice for taxpayers is bidding. Bidding alone gives better options for politicians/bureaucrats to make decisions. The bidding process alone isn't enough to weasle out corruption from the process. The only way to do this is by making the bids public, eventually, which requires politicians/bureaucrats to explain why chose the winning bidder, but why they chose it over other options.

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Posted by Christopher | 10:26 AM | | 0 comments »


https://twitter.com/TheCritninja/status/723517805040037888


This post is a reply to this tweet I saw. In case it gets deleted, San Francisco implemented a bylaw requiring all new construction to have solar panels in use. Sean is asking why Calgary doesn't have this when we have over 200+ days of sun (we actually have roughly 332 days of sun on average per year[1]).

I want to present very important information, speaking as an electrical engineer. Before anyone tries to label me as a hypocrite for having written the post on the is-ought problem and the appeal to science and than appealing to being an electrical engineer, I'm not appealing to science for an ethical answer. The main arguments for solar panels is that it is good for the environment, is renewable energy (the sun) and that it is good for our pocket books in the future. My goal is to share information about solar panels, as an engineer, to show that solar panels don't live up to the argument for it.

Why use solar?

It's best to start by listing out the important points raised for why we should be using it. It isn't all just environmental. Whether you or I disagree (ethically or morally) isn't the intention of this post. The argument and reasoning for doing something is a totally different discussions and something I'll reserve for a future post.
  • Good for the environment
  • Allows end users independence from the grid
  • Less loss in distribution (as it is local)
  • Improves grid security
  • Creates jobs and stimulates the economy
It's important to take away that there is a hierarchy in the reasoning. The main argument is that it is 'good' for the environment. The rest are merely features, but described as benefits. This is a concept in sales[2]. This is brought up to make sure that the main argument is always returned too because disproving the 'features' doesn't change the argument. If all the features are proven false, a proponent will support the idea.

Why energy?

Before I can speak of solar energy, I have to look at energy in general. I would also like to get deeper by asking why why? Why do we do anything?

Life just isn't is. Living things have a dictomy; existence or non-existence. This is true of all living things whether a plant, animal or human being. Existence requires action, in particular the action of seeking out the values that make life possible and the values to make existence worth living. There's no guarantee that any living thing will get all the values (if any) they seek out, but to choose life, is to choose the action.

All living things have different means of accomplishing this action. A plant operates automatically, according to it's nature, to get the values of sunlight, water and minerals. A plant will wrap around objects in it's way to get better sunlight, though there is no guarantee it will get it. Animals seek out values through instinct. A fox just knows that a rabbit is a delicious meal. A fox is also born with claws, the attributes of speed and has fur to keep warm. Humans are born into this world without claws, fur or necessary instinct to survive. There are no instincts that say the berries on the tree are good or poisonous. Humans only means of obtaining the values of life is through their mind and rational thought. Humans think and than act on their thoughts.

This metaphysical injection of information may seem irrelevant, but it's important to state why man acts. Man acts for the values of life and the values that make life worth living. And man acts based on rational thought. Environmentalism and solar panels walk hand and hand. Environmentalism doesn't hold the metaphysical understanding I stated, but one that places value in the environment for it's own sake - and in some cases an anti-man ideology (that the ideal environment is one where humans never existed).

The environment in and of itself doesn't have value. The value of the environment is one in context of the value to man. This thought process might not change much of the arguments that follow in this essay, but this distinction is important. Man must think and act for the betterment of man (values of life and values worth living for) and not for the 'value of the environment' at the expense of man.

Do solar panels create jobs and stimulate the economy?

There are two ideas here, so let's deal with them one on one.

Does it create jobs? Yes. Anything that exists and requires work, means there will be jobs. But jobs, in and of themselves, are not necessarily good/bad things. Productive output is the measure of the VALUE to the economy. So if 10,000 people are needed to do what 2000 people can do - this is a net loss to society. The value to the economy (and in away - the stimulating) is measured by productive output per person. You can also look at this from a spending perspective as a consumer. Are you better off spending $20 for something that you used to buy for $10? Of course there will be jobs, but when you attach an output of energy per job you see that we are getting far less.

Does it stimulate the economy? This belief comes from a false look at economics. Many people believe the economy is driven simply by consumption and the simplest way to get there is to have people working. Therefore, as long as someone has a job that pays a decent amount, it's stimulating. No one is really interested in discussing the output of this work. Getting paid $25/hr to dig useless holes creates economic stimulus because someone has $50k a year in income. What is produced by work is wealth and really derives the value of the economy.

What happens to the economy when paying more money and more people to produce the equivalent amount of output? It's a net loss for the economy (which is everyone in the economy). The "Parable of the Broken Glass" by Fredrick Bastiat[3] demonstrates this quite easily. If got some teenagers to go out to your neighborhood, smash out all the car windows, there would be a demand for work. Local glass replacement businesses would have an inrush of business. But this is a net loss to society. We have people paying to fix their cars back to what it was. This roughly translates to the solar panel business. It's not so much that solar panels create destruction, but we're spending more money for no enhancement in value.

Do solar panels create grid security?

Grid security, in this context, means decentralized. We'll have more people with solar panels on their roof and we become less dependent on larger utility maintenance/down-time.
I'll concede, in theory, that decentralizing the grid would help with grid security. In practice, there are several issues that are overlooked by the arm chair engineer. First lower voltage infrastructure and secondly issues with sinusoidal purity.

Lower voltage infrastructure: The actual utility connection to your house and to your neighborhood is lower voltage. The connection to your house is 120/240V single phase. Your neighborhood may be at a higher voltage, depending on the grid dynamics, but still significantly lower than high voltage infrastructure. Often streets within a neighborhood are still fed at single phase.

Power = Voltage x Current

To deliver the same amount of power, the lower the voltage - the higher the current.

Voltage = Current x Impedance

Therefore

Power = Current^2 x Impedance

Impedance (resistance) in the transmissions has a pivotal play in the actual power delivered. The impedance, in and of itself, isn't what leads to power - just the voltage at which we receive the power.

Simplifying these equations, with lower voltage infrastructure we have more resistive (impedance) wiring to homes and to the neighborhoods. This means that there is a high degree of loss in transmission when compared to high voltage output and infrastructure. As per the formula above, higher voltage means lower current and therefore less loss.

Sinusoidal purity: The grid operates at many different voltages throughout the province/country. The one that is constant is that it is a three phase system, operating at 60Hz and each phase shifted by 120 degrees (for those of you that remember trigonometry)[4][5]. Most of the grid is AC (alternating current), but in some applications DC (direct current) is used to prevent losses (DC over long distances and at very high voltages has been shown to be a good way to reduce transmission losses). The electricity in your home is AC.

Solar panels produce a DC output and in order for this power to be put back on the grid (or to use standard electrical items in your home) it must be converted to a 60Hz sinusoidal AC wave. This is done with a component known as a power inverter. The problem (not with inverters), but DC is that we don't have a way to make a pure sinusoidal wave. In basics, we can make a square wave that is 60Hz, looks like this. To make it more closely resemble a sine wave, we use more squares producing something like this.

The graphs shown above are all well understood sinusoidal waves as a function of time. You can't identify issues with it as a function of time. As a function of frequency we see something known as harmonics[6]. I'm getting a lot more technical than I was intending with this article, but I promise I'll make my point. The rising edges and falling edges of the created wave (the vertical runs) are composed of many high frequencies. Sparing the math, with a three phase system with each phase 120 degrees offset create overlapping harmonics - in particular the 3rd, 5th and 7th harmonics. These imperfections and significant current loads ripple out onto the grid distorting it.

Fixing these harmonics requires expensive power electronics to weasel them out and other methods (such as the delta configuration of a transformer). For one solar panel in your neighborhood, it won't matter at all. Most of it will die in resistance - as pointed out with the lower voltage infrastructure point. But as more and more people start using solar panels these harmonics will be inescapable, especially the further you are from harmonic mitigating devices. What you'll be left with in your neighborhood are power quality issues which can damage what you have plugged in. The only place that could probably avoid it is truly high voltage bussing areas, such as the "Network" in downtown Calgary[7], but work to keep power quality sound would be required.

Do solar panels have less loss because they're local?

Well, if you're thinking of a purely autarchic system, sure. Transmissions losses are lower because you're closer. For feeding the grid, there is higher losses compared to utilities due to the points illustrated earlier.

With an autarchic system there are losses. Most people aren't using the energy created in real time. Most people need to capture the power and store it for later use. The act of storing this energy results in a loss of 50% of total available. Much of this is dependent on the chemistry of the battery. Many people just view a battery, as just a battery, but it has specific characteristics of how it needs to be charged - and the variableness of solar output is always an issue.

There are also losses in the power inverter that are substantially larger when using a simple consumer good versus a utility grade item.

Do solar panels create independence from the grid for the end user?

Yes. At an expensive cost and lost conveniences (like all the power needed typically comes off productive hours), but yes.

Are solar panels good for the environment?

This is the big question and the most important question to answer. I'm going to address this from both a substance perspective and an energy perspective.

Energy

It needs to be said that it takes more energy to make, build, deliver, install and recycle a panel than it will ever produce over it's life. There is a single study that claims after 2010 solar panels became net positive on electricity[8], but this study contains epistemic issues - though that doesn't stop science news to report the findings anyway[9].

An epistemic[10] issue is to call into question what knowledge one can derive from such a study. The way a study is conducted and the way it works is the basis of figuring out what knowledge can be derived. This is philosophical territory and a place where scientists are rarely perfect.

Let's review a few points from the studies abstract:
This paper develops a number of unique data sets, namely the following: calculation of distribution of global capacity factor for PV deployment; meta-analysis of energy consumption in PV system manufacture and deployment; and documentation of reduction in energetic costs of PV system production. These data are used as input into a new net energy analysis of the global PV industry, as opposed to device level analysis. In addition, the paper introduces a new concept: a model tracking energetic costs of manufacturing and installing PV systems, including balance of system (BOS) components.
Read this part, "... opposed to device level analysis." They're taking their own "unique data sets" instead of actually looking at solar panels. That's suspect. They take unique data points, instead of panel related points, then they use this data of a "new net energy analysis" and finally plugged into a model. You'll find that they aren't analyzing actual energy. The actual study doesn't produce the knowledge to reach such a conclusion.

The other issue I find is with the conclusion itself. Electricity produced by solar panels is greater than that of the electricity required to create the panel. If we were to assume the study was sound, I'm left wondering - why just electricity as the measure? Panels are shipped in trucks that run on fuel, not electricity. Panels are made of rare earth metals (will go into more detail in the environmental rebuttal) that require huge amounts of energy to extract. Panels also will require recycling, which requires energy. None of this energy use is added to the panel when electricity to build is the only metric. It takes X amount of electricity, Y amount of oil barrels, Z amount of gasoline to have a fully operational panel.

Environment

The environmental aspect to all this is what I find the most strange, especially with the measurement of environmental impact. There is an incomplete standard when it comes to comparison to other means of producing energy. With solar, we merely look at the input and output. Input: sun, always there, good and Output: electricity. Compare that to coal (Input: coal, mined, requires energy to produce, byproducts and Output: electricity) or Nuclear (Input: nuclear reaction and Output: electricity and nuclear waste).

If you haven't picked up on it, solar has a very simplistic standard, which is energy out. The other forms of energy are viewed more broadly, encompassing more of the energy production. Proper comparisons in energy is the total summation of all requirements of energy production - not the final product that yields the actual energy.

Solar panels are made of rare earth metals. Rare earth metals are not abundant and difficult to extract. The process of extraction produces byproducts and these byproducts are a reality of production. Just as there is byproducts with fracking, nuclear fission and heating your house - the same is true for the materials required for the production of solar panels. These byproducts are toxic, such as radioactive tailings[11]. It's important to note that these radioactive byproducts are different than those of a nuclear reaction. At least with a nuclear reaction this byproduct is captured and contained in the core. With extracting minerals it can't be fully captured and contained.

Recycling solar panels is again an energy intense process to recover rare earth metals. The same radioactive byproducts in production are produced in this process as well.
As you can see, it isn't as simple as looking at the energy of solar to view the 'environmental value'. This discussion is quite similar to that of lightbulbs. People see a 60W incandescent and conclude a 12W compact fluorescent and 10W LED is more environmentally friendly - based totally on watts. Fluorescent and LED both have rare earth metals, and fluorescent contains mercury (toxic for human life).

I'm not saying that solar panels are better or worse than other forms of energy production. What I am saying that it is far more complex of a question than what most people assume. Objectively speaking, hydro is the most environmentally friendly electricity produced (also the cheapest), assuming you discount the value of things like fish. Even though this is by far the best form of energy production solar and wind seem to be the defacto winners. Wind is another discussion and I have a negative view of it as well.

The Reality of the Future of Energy

The need for more energy in the foreseeable future is real. If people want cars to plug in, transit buses and trains run on electricity. Moving away from gasoline and oil doesn't change the fact that people move that demand onto the electricity grid. We need more power.

I reject the notion that solar and wind can do this. They're poor energy sources. They're expensive, have short lifespans, variable outputs and (in the case of wind) require a lot of maintenance.

Climate change is the big motivator in changing the way we produce energy. I don't think we really have to deal with it the way people look at it, but if we are going to deal with it - shouldn't we do it properly?

If we want to meet the extraordinary energy requirements of the future and reduce greenhouse gases, nuclear is the best option. One large facility can near provide the entire electricity to a province like Alberta. A nuclear plant should have a lifespan 4 times that of solar and wind. A nuclear plant will have less maintenance per unit of energy than something like wind. And lastly the byproduct of nuclear can be contained.

As good as nuclear is, it is rarely talked about positively. For very apocalyptic prophecies of climate change proponents, they seem to want to implement the snails pace of electrical change with solar and wind. Compound this with the very real shortage of rare earth metals[12], no one is really trying to solve the climate change problem - especially the proponents.

In Conclusion

Let's reiterate the main discussion point, solar panels being used in urban settings. One shouldn't use a solar panel because it requires more energy to create than it actually produces over the life. It's made of rare earth metals that produce radioactive byproducts. It simply isn't as environmentally friendly as people like to think.

Using a solar panel in a remote cottage or something along these lines makes sense - but it makes sense economically or convenience. It isn't like we can put solar panels on every building, yada yada yada, live happily ever after.

I didn't write this to necessarily turn you off of solar panels, but to present more of the big picture. There is an ignorant narrative in society that solar panels are some sort of messiah that will save us from evil pollution. It's not. It's not even close. And there isn't some malevolent force acting against it. The truth is, reality works against it.
 
Sources and Additional Reading
  1. Calgary, Climate - Wikipedia
  2. Value Proposition - Wikipedia
  3. Parable of the Broken Window - Fredrick Bastiat via Wikipedia
  4. Three Phase Electric Power - Wikipedia
  5. Phases (waves) - Phase Shift - Wikipedia
  6. Harmonics (Electrical Power) - Wikipedia
  7. Calgary Downtown Core Network - Enmax
  8. Energy Balance of the Global Photovoltaic (PV) Industry - Is the PV Industry a Net Electricity Producer? - Michael Dale and Sally M. Benson
  9. Solar Panels Now Make More Electricity Than They Use - Popular Science
  10. Epistemology - Wikipedia
  11. Boom in Mining Rare Earths Poses Mounting Toxic Risks - Environment 360 - Yale
  12. A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is Hindering Green Technologies - Environment 360 - Yale

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Posted by Christopher | 7:00 PM | 0 comments »