[205] Of there are three kinds of lies

The first day of class started early in the morning with a phrase:
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

– Britain Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.
What a nice way to start the semester, with Econ 405/Stats 405.

Economics Environment Future Kitchen sink Liberty Sci-fi Society

[199] Of if I ruled the world…

If everything in this world rested on me, I will make sure that the world will be a greener place to live in. All of my policies will be based on three of the Green Four Pillars – okologisch (ecological sound), sozial (social stability) and basisdemokratisch (democratic society).

The economy will not be based simply on capitalism. There are more to life than just capitals. Though free trade is important, certain things will be given some leeway, of such as subsidies so important industries to the green ideology may flourish for the benefit of the whole. Taxes and tariffs will still play an important role in a laissez faire market.

The most important thing that will be made compulsory is the pollution market. Each firm will have its own amount of pollution allowed to be produced. Of course, the amount of pollution it is entitled to will vary according to its size and sector. In this way, the firm will be allowed to do whatever it wants with the permit as long as the activity is within the boundary of the law. Furthermore, the firm will need to pay for each extra ton of pollution it makes as a fine. The amount fine will be large enough as to offset the violating firm profit. In this, it is hoped that the fine will be a sufficient deterrent without hurting the industry greatly.

The only way to produce more products is to obtain pollution permit first. However, it cannot obtain such permit directly from the government but rather, it needs to buy the extra privilege from other firm that uses only partially of their share. Despite this, the government still has the ability to issue such permit as it deems necessary for a sustainable economic growth of a particular sector and not of a particular firm. It is important to state that the permit transaction between firms will still be needed to be approved by the government. In a way, this is similar to the coupon system when in the market, both monetary and coupon units are used for transaction activities. Through this, carbon based economy or rather green economy will be born.

The government on the other hand distributes the permits that in turn given by a world body that regulates the permit circulation internationally. Each country will receive a particular amount of permit after that particular country’s industry, population, resources and area size are considered. A world body, perhaps a neo-WTO will be given the power to make sure that the carbon trading will run smoothly on the international level.

Reward and punishment philosophy will be upheld in order to convince countries to accept this economy. Economic sanction will be imposed on countries that commit serious environmental breach. Most common sanction will be the withdrawal of pollution permits. The heaviest penalty would be an economic isolation on all sorts of goods save essential such as food and medicine. However, environmental violation does not include environmental accidents though inaction may lead to moderate punishment. Through this, it is hoped that pollution problem will be reduced significantly.

Furthermore, developed countries will be demanded to commit a small portion of its income, if it could be afforded, to contribute to global organizations such as the Red Cross/Red Crescent and the UN to fight hunger and poverty. The contributors will be rewarded with extra pollution permits at a discounted price.

Income originated from the sale of pollution permits will be used as near free aids to the third world nations. The aid however will be given as long as the receiver commits itself to green economy. At the first sign of diversion from green economy, the receiver will need to repay the aid in full plus backdated interest.

Politically, countries’ traditional borders will be preserved due to cultural difference but within countries, a new kind of political lines will emerge – the ecoregions. Ecoregions are, as stated in Wikipedia, area that has strong ecological connection to other area. These areas will be considered as one political unit. As a simple example, Southeast Asia will be considered as one ecoregion due to its vegetation similarity throughout the region. In introducing new political border, it is hoped that problem such as polluted river or burning forest will be able to be fought effectively. Though this seems to be difficult and annoying redistribution, such method has already been carried among the great lakes states such as Michigan, Illinois and Ontario (3 of the 11 members of the Great Lakes Commission) in order to manage the administrative matters concerning the great lakes. Note that this caucus crosses the US-Canada border.

Free will and democracy will be paramount in governance though it will not be as free as the libertarians would like. Minimal restrictions will be applied in order to maintain social order. Then again, freedom of expression will be observed to almost the fullest extend.
Socially, recycling will be the way of life. To make it a reality, Californian styled system will be practiced. Recyclable consumer products (i.e. cans, bottle etc.) will be sold a little bit higher than its market price. The additional cents will be returned to the buyer once the post-consumer product is returned back to any recycling center. Of course, the price of recyclable product will be lower than any non-recyclable counterpart so as to encourage consumer to buy recyclable product.

Population will be redistributed to various areas so one area will not have too dense with Humans. Also, population control will be enforced through. By doing this, not only could the government prevent overstraining the ecosystem but the social standard including the health system could also be maintained with high standard. Draconian population control however will not be allowed in the constitution because of the observance ofhuman rights.

The opening of new lands will be minimized. Land will only be allowed to be opened for essential activities when it is needed. Land opening for holiday resort, golf course and such will be made difficult if not impossible. Also, to reduce environmental impact due to development, tight Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be made compulsory to every project without exception.

Transportation also plays an important role in pollution control. To combat pollution, public transportation will be the main method of moving around and the vehicles ownership will be discouraged by the introduction of special tariffs and taxes. Regular public transportation users (including carpoolers) will be rewarded with various schemes such as privilege in government and privately controlled services. In addition, car manufacturers will be needed to meet high environmental standard (engine efficiency and such) before their products are allowed to hit the street.

Area on land and in the water (the Amazon, Great Coral Reef etc.) that are recognized as essential to biodiversity will be preserved aggressively. No development will be tolerated in the area and violation will be met to the fullest extend of the law.

The Earth will be given time to adapt to us and repair herself. We as Humans will not only give the Earth time, we will also be proactive in repairing her. In this, the hope of a peaceful coexistence between Humans, other biotics, abiotics and Gaia will come to reality.

Economics Kitchen sink

[176] Of taking things for granted

While I was reviewing for my macroeconomics exam up in the Graduate Library’s sixth floor, I found something that is so ironic. The Law of Demand, one the fundamental basics of free market economy is based on the Slutsky Equation. The equation was derived by Eugen Slutsky, a Russian economist who lived during Lenin’s reign. Back then, Russian, known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, the only entity that managed to turn the modern world into a safer bipolar order.

C.C.C.P. or better known to the non-Russ speaking people as U.S.S.R. was a communist. Yes, it was but a world with protons and no electrons make life very difficult indeed. Proton is fun but with no electron, there will be no cathode ray tube, meaning I won’t be able to enjoy giving a n00b teammate a headshot with my shotgun at pointblank. w00+! l33+ rules.

The world is certainly a strange place to live in.

Let’s do this again.

While I was returning to my friend’s place from the Graduate Library political section up in the very quiet, an almost white noise audible sixth floor, after sleeping a total of two hours inside a carrel instead of revising macroeconomics for a full 5 hours, I grasped something.

In our life, we perceived many things for granted. In fact, I dare say that most of the thing in our life, from the basic necessity such as water or family members, we assume that these things will be with us forever. Despite knowing that these things would one day be lost, we still consider it as “unlimited resources”.

I myself used to take things for granted. Frankly, even right now, although realizing the reality, I still take some things for granted. But unlike some people, or should I say unlike most people, I realized it.

My idiotic perception, being taking-things-for-grantedism crumbled when I was about 19. I was sleeping and was about to awake from a sweet slumber. The sun rose and heated up part of my room. Slowly, the heat started to annoy me and thus, I decided to wake up. So I opened my eyes and observe the same old room, always the same, always never changing. Whilst I was contemplating on whether waking up was worth it, I tried to move my right hand from the part. Oddly, nothing happened – no movement by the hand. Imagine, you tried to move your one of your body parts, and nothing happened. At first, I thought something heavy like a hard covered Physics book fell and rested on my hand. I made a few more tries until I finally realized my right arm couldn’t be move anymore!
How rude was I awakened, facing the possibility of losing a hand to absolute no reason. My thought was full of terror. Worse, it was my right hand, the hand that I used to feed myself, to write, to type and to do countless other things.

I sat up on my bed and touched the dead hand. It was cold and it certainly reinforced my fear. My right hand had every other human’s feature but the sense of touch. My left hand picked its counterpart up and released it from the highest possible point and sadly, it fell downward, as fast as the gravity. Later, I tried every other thing in hope that I could control the other arm again.

It took me quite awhile to absorb reality. I almost shed tear knowing that I’ve lost an arm.

Despair was the only thing in my mind until I felt that my right arm’s fingers were actually moving. Suddenly, I felt Prometheus in my right arm flesh and soon, my arm was mine again to do as I please. My joy overfilled my heart and shoved despair away from my thought.

I was thankful to have my hand again and ending this entry with a cliche, from that moment on that I stopped taking things for granted.

This cliche has a far reaching consequence. Not only do I cherish every moment for the existence of my organs and all, I starts to sympathies for others shortcoming. I had a rather indifferent feeling on the incapables back then.

Most important of all, perhaps it started the green spark in me. I’ve stopped wasting water and electricity when I don’t need it. I’ve started to save and conserve almost everything. I’ve started to see the reason behind the concept of three green arrows making a 360 degree vector. I’ve begun to stop using paper towel needlessly. Perhaps, maybe this cliches, the lesson in life, usually, the kind of manuscript an elementary school kids would write was the seed to my belief in environmentalism.

I later found out that the hand was numbed due to lack of blood circulation.

On personal note, University of Michigan offers major in Economics, concentrating in Green Economics. Sassy. And on July first, I’ll be heading to Yosemite National Park in California for hiking for a full ten days. I hope the journey from Detroit to Yosemite will be via Los Angeles and San Francisco. w00t!

Sorry Tod, I guess the deal to Florida is off. I rather hug a red sequoia than a naked chick. Wait a minute, what am I doing? For the love of God, it’s naked chicks.

Before ending this entry, I would like to share a joke. I am a male so I can’t help being a little bit chauvinist.

“Recently scientists revealed that beer contains small traces of female hormones. To prove their theory, the scientists fed 100 men 12 pints of beer and observed that 100% of them gained weight, talked excessively without making sense, became emotional, couldn’t drive, couldn’t think, and refused to apologize when wrong. No further testing is planned…”

p/s – The new design is in and the code implementation will be done soon. By soon, I mean snail mail’s soon.

p/p/s – change of plan. Since the ticket is getting pretty expensive, I’m rerouting my route from via Los Angeles to via San Francisco. My initial budget was near USD500 but after rearrangement, the budget when down to USD400 level. Sounds a lot but I am sure my mother will inject something into my account later. Anyway, with all the money in the account, I think I could afford it without even feeling the pain.

Economics Politics & government

[175] Of taxes

Something I found over the net.
“Age old dilemma: If someone gives you a penny for your thoughts, and you put in your 2 cents, what happens to the other 1 cent? I’m guessing taxes.”

Well, under Bush administration, I am sure you will be getting the other cent back, at the expense of the Big Brother.


[23] Of protecting Proton

For a peek to a car, click here.

Somebody, please, tell me that’s really is a Proton. It’s way too cool.

According to some sources, it’s the new Proton car. It’s Proton Sutera, developed by Lotus of England. As usual, the name isn’t that impressive but this time, the name certainly does not reflect the design of the new car. If this really is a Proton, I guess my favorite car right now is Sutera instead of the new Toyota Celica.

The way I see it, Proton’s design is getting better and better, given enough period of time. It was first established in the mid-80s as a national project by the Malaysian government under the supervision of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. The first few designs were simply the recreation of Mitsubishi’s Evolution models. Up to date, the most admired copycats are the Proton Perdana and the GTi (I can’t recall whether Perdana is really a copy cat of Evo, but for the sake of this entry, what the heck).

Unfortunately, within a few years time, AFTA, a free trade treaty will come to effect in Malaysia. AFTA, from the free-trade world’s point of view (according to Econ 101), is a good thing for the consumers. However, for Malaysia’s arena, it marks a grave future for the local car industry. Fierce competition will surely force Proton to fall to its knee. There is no way Proton could compete with supergiants such as Toyota, General Motors and Mercedes-Chrysler. These supergiants are far too efficient, plus they can afford to have a high cost production compare to Proton, which by the standard of these supergiants, is a mere ant. To protect the local industry, I guess Malaysia should not have signed any deal about free trade in the past but, of course, we can never change the past.

My opinion is, the government must shield the local car manufacturing industry regardless any free-trade treaty it has signed. The American burnt the ABM Treaty just like that. Why can’t we dump AFTA? (Don’t answer that)