Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
Post Reply
7Wannabe5
Posts: 2670
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:34 am

I have been intermittently attempting to push the functioning of my brain to its limits through consideration of systems theory and how it applies to my lifestyle. My organically created reading list/stack is reflective of this. Somehow, I have recently landed on the intersection of the Venn diagram where frugality/conservation intersects with communism, because from different threads of my reading web, I came upon "Four Futures: Life After Capitalism" by Peter Frase, and "The Right to Be Lazy" by Paul Lafargue (Marx's son-in-law) 1907 (with 1975 Introduction by Fred Thompson which attempts to integrate then new science of Ecology with the theme of the original essay. )

I am going to start this discussion from the premise that the majority of the members of this forum would agree that personal liberty should or likely will somehow be held/kept in balance with personal responsibility. For instance, if my sister/housemate maintains the liberty to own 4 dogs but does not take personal responsibility if one of them pees in my bedroom then there will likely be consequences. I choose this example because it is inclusive of the expense of waste disposal in consumption/production cycle. This would be a better example for the purposes of this post if, as I have suggested, instead of allowing her dogs to be completely useless, she attached them to yokes and mill and made them earn their keep by grinding grain and/or at least producing enough electricity to charge her cell phone, and thereby assign them a productive function.

Most of us live in a culture of easy, mindless consumption. Becoming more mindful about consumption is the usual perspective of the art of frugality. For example, when I walk down to the corner and buy a package of cookies, it is like I am ordering the production of one more cardboard box, plastic insert, 8 oz. of Canadian wheat, 8 oz. of refined Brazilian sugar cane, .1 gallons of Oklahoma petroleum etc. etc. However, because I am also a small business owner and a gardener, I also concern myself directly, or intimately, with my means/methods/tools of production. For example, I need to decide to what extent I am going to use recycled materials to package a book I am shipping, and I need to decide to what extent I am going to use petroleum powered tools to till my asparagus bed.

After I started making some money through retail arbitrage, which is moving end-lot, clearance otherwise discounted goods from the brick and mortar retail market to the internet distribution market, it quickly became apparent to me that the way to increase efficiency along this path would be to either buy much larger lots of secondarily discounted goods (such as returned merchandise) at auction OR actually insert myself directly into the cycle of production of new goods for the market. For instance, I have a pretty good eye for the upscale toy market, so I almost purchased (caused the production) of a $3000 lot of charmingly painted, wooden play kitchen appliances from a Chinese factory. Some of the more sophisticated marketeers/producers of goods for export even include group pictures of their labor staff on their internet sites. So, you can sometimes even "know" the crew of smock wearing laborers who are painting the charming design and fastening the hinges on the wooden toys. Almost, but not quite like, how in these days of globalism you might know that a certain expensive brand of coffee is roasted by a college friend's Swedish ex-second-husband's brother.

My BF is a senior plant engineer, so he travels around the world overseeing the construction of giant houses for production robots. His best friend with whom we both stay quite frequently is a super-wealthy investor. They are both politically conservative. My sister-housemate is a true radical Bohemian artist, but also a law student. My two adult kids and my baby sister are cynical/liberal hipster nerds. So my current Circle-of-5 is fairly diverse, with the only common elements being appreciation for books, gardening/ecology, some flavor of frugality, so although I cast my vote for Jill Stein, I am not arguing in favor of some sort of party alliance or even simple pocket-book self-interest that might be surmised by reading my life-cycle 1040s. I am not currently deriving more than a smidgen of income from corporate stock investment, but I will be fed my dinner on this holiday evening at a not-inexpensive restaurant, from funds directly derived from profits of one such corporation, so my lifestyle loops are also overtly production inclusive of mega-tool/labor conglomerations. So, my question isn't by way of "holier than thou" signaling.

What I am wondering, given the reality of a future where resources, including availability of resources in which waste products can be diluted/sequestered, are being depleted as technology is being improved, do you guys think we are or should be heading more towards making personal choices, or being more mindful about production, in alignment with more personal ownership or community sharing towards more resilient model of distribution of means of production (tools) or the more globalized mega-concentrated towards efficiency investment in means of production (tools?) Here is an example of what might be a possibility for small distributed production.

http://opensourceecology.org/about-overview/

User avatar
BRUTE
Posts: 2366
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:20 pm

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by BRUTE » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:15 am

communism can work fairly well on the micro scale. in a sense, most families are communist. if all humans involved have their incentives aligned right, they can achieve their goals synergistically without requirement for the overhead of a market economy.

markets are a useful tool for distributing resources in a decentralized way. this is necessary if either the economy in question is too complex to be usefully managed by mom or dad, or if there are incentive traps that would tear the system apart - 'tragedy of the commons' comes to mind.

the scale at which micro-communism breaks down is surprisingly small, brute has experienced the complete disintegration of households of 5-10 humans several times, usually over trivial nonsense like who ate who's cereal and who didn't chip in for the cleaning lady or not clean up after themselves.

OSE in particular is not solving any actual problems - the big cost of civilization is not the techniques or building materials. housing is expensive because of land and building codes, not because wood, stone, or architects are expensive. of course building a brick shack in rural Missouri is going to be dirt cheap, but for how much does an equivalent house sell there? food is expensive because of shipping and space constraints, and because it's mostly a luxury in the 1st world. if it was about affordability, all humans would eat lentils like jacob.

OSE is also chronically suffering from incompetent-dictatorship-syndrome. the founder means well, but needs to control everything. he seems to go through waves of recruiting a bunch of enthusiastic humans that end up on his farm, work/volunteer for 1-3 months and do a "project", then get fed up with his micro-management and the living conditions, and leave. rinse, repeat. this is exactly the problem with communism - it doesn't work if complexity grows beyond what a single human can juggle.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2670
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:46 am

BRUTE said: communism can work fairly well on the micro scale. in a sense, most families are communist. if all humans involved have their incentives aligned right, they can achieve their goals synergistically without requirement for the overhead of a market economy.

markets are a useful tool for distributing resources in a decentralized way. this is necessary if either the economy in question is too complex to be usefully managed by mom or dad, or if there are incentive traps that would tear the system apart - 'tragedy of the commons' comes to mind.

the scale at which micro-communism breaks down is surprisingly small, brute has experienced the complete disintegration of households of 5-10 humans several times, usually over trivial nonsense like who ate who's cereal and who didn't chip in for the cleaning lady or not clean up after themselves.
Shared kitchen facilities and tools is a good micro-example of what I was "trying" to express. My solid opinion on this matter is that it never works unless one individual overtly takes on the responsibility of being the "Mom" and one individual takes on the authority of being the "Dad." If one individual holds authority as well as responsibility then they are the "Parent." The management of any complex system requires decisions about what will be encouraged to "grow" and "thrive" and what will be "killed" or banished to exile outside of the boundaries of the system. A kitchen that is managed by an individual who is more inclined to exert authority than take responsibility will likely more closely resemble a sterile Lysol poisoned, plastic coated kill zone and one that is managed by an individual who is more inclined to take responsibility than exert authority will likely include 3 homeless cats, a jungle of house plants, and a troop of ants carrying off homemade cookie crumbs from the not-recently-scrubbed floor. All the individuals who benefit from use or production of any given kitchen, but do not take any responsibility or authority within that realm, are "children" within the scope of that kitchen. Any individual who exchanges money or other goods for barter with the "parent" of the kitchen at the boundary of the system is an independent adult customer of the kitchen. Any individual who at will exchanges work within the kitchen, under the direction of the "parent" of the kitchen, for the produce of the kitchen or money is an employee of the system. Etc. etc. etc. IOW, I agree with you that "sibling" systems, where it is assumed that the standard of independent adult behavior will be maintained within a group of independent adults do not generally end up functioning well, and generally either end up falling apart or defaulting to one or two individuals taking on responsibility and authority. My personal rule of thumb is that to the extent that nobody else does it or takes it on, I will be the "Parent" and receive compensation from the kitchen system in proportion to my exertion, although I do sometimes end up a bit martyred since I tend to err on the side of being "fun Mom" rather than 'strict Dad." This is why I rarely pay much rent and am always welcomed as a house guest.

housing is expensive because of land and building codes, not because wood, stone, or architects are expensive.
True. Of course, it is exceedingly rare to actually own land rather than a collection of rights associated with a piece of land. Also, the true economic function of regulations and codes which can be enforced by variety of officers of the law is saving society the expense of having the court system resolve a bajillion different civil suits. If two kids are seen fighting on the playground, they are both instantly suspended, and the principal does not have to waste time determining relative guilt.

Anyways, I think the question I was really trying to ask with my initial post was "How close do you think we are to the end of the global industrial age?", which might just be another way of asking "When do you think that the price of petroleum will make transportation of finished goods from 3rd world more expensive than local labor in 1st world given possibility of more technologically advanced small tools?"

User avatar
vexed87
Posts: 1177
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:02 am
Location: Yorkshire, UK

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by vexed87 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:42 am

@7WB, I think the degree to which you would take one approach over the other would depend on the relative complexity and degree of specialisation within civic society. Modularity/open source is a fascinating topic, but as a solution to our problems, it won't matter much if our complex society collapses because we don't have the resources to maintain and manufacture our high tech gadgets and hyper-specialised way of life.

Given complexity of society and it's means of production are largely dictated by the available energy (resources) available to society, (don't forget this also varies dramatically by region and community...) it's hard to say which communities could implement modular/open source production before it's too late. It probably comes down to how well connected and organised your community is. Open source ecology would work well in your local community if you had the relationships and trust established, but for the majority who don't know what community means outside of their immediate family, housemates and circle of close friends, it ain't going to work...

Across the board, there's a real danger community might not get a strong foothold before industrial civilisation finishes circling the drain, and at that point if your locale has no sense of community, the odds are stacked against you for constructing a meaningful response to decline. So I guess it's up to us to do our damned best to get out there and focus on rebuilding community to the sort of condition it was in before the markets dominated nearly every productive thing we do. Ian Flemming's great work, Lean Logic basically addresses this whole concept, I strongly recommend it, it's a system thinker's wet dream!
"How close do you think we are to the end of the global industrial age?"
Jacob did a great job in this post: viewtopic.php?p=135713#p135713

EDIT: I read this back to myself and it could come across as misrepresenting jacob's views, I'm not saying here that the end of petroleum necessarily equates to the end of industrial civilisations, that my personal view, and probably not jacobs, but rather the decline of petroleum and its inevitable collapse of the market economy is a good starting point for measuring when the tide turns against industrial civilisation, I guess the end has only arrived when the last grid powered factories shut down, but then again, that depends how exactly you define the end of an epoch, what percentage of the population need to stop benefiting from the industrial production techniques to consider it the end of the epoch, 90, 95, 99.99%?
When do you think that the price of petroleum will make transportation of finished goods from 3rd world more expensive than local labor in 1st world given possibility of more technologically advanced small tools?"
Cost of local production of production < imported solution + cost of transportation, or in other words probably about the same time, or shortly before your income equalises with the earnings of the factory workers in the 3rd world economy, and that depends on when your particular streams of income are crushed by wider macroeconomics. With every day that passes, more people in the west are falling into this camp, hence we see events like Brexit/Trump.

In a post-industrial society, an open-source society would stand a better chance of re-building, because our main resources would be our labour and knowledge, keeping human capital to ourselves (knowledge/experience), might make us wealthy if we have other's to extract rents from... but that won't be possible if the whole of society around us has been laid to waste. So a greater degree of cooperation will be necessary, and certainly would act as a buffer as industrial civilisation dies its death, so it certainly makes sense to implement this strategy while there is time, but I guess that would come at the cost of accepting that your can no longer make a quick buck and possibly accept your place in the camp of have nots and your time participating in the spoils of the free market industrial capitalistic society is over.
Last edited by vexed87 on Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:28 am

I’ll preface my comments with a couple of important points. The First being my systems theory thought processes have not yet advanced to near your levels, so forgive me if I make obvious points. Secondly, my viewpoints tend to be shifted towards market approaches to most problems.

Regarding the original question (as I can best understand it), I think both capitalistic and communistic frameworks can work on a micro scale, but are highly influence by the macro systems in which they are placed. I agree with @Brute, on the smallest scale most families or household units have communistic traits, but I would call them a “shared capitalistic” micro-economy. Given the capitalistic (consumerist) and wealthy situations of western society in which these small groups are place, these shared systems can quickly and easily be destroyed for apparently trivial concerns. The fragility is mainly due to the wealth that macro-capitalism has provided society. If my roommate pisses me off by being messy, I can easily move out and get my own place for only a couple hundred more dollars a month, why bother with this inconvenience? This is obviously the same attitude most consumers have towards their perceived needs or discomfort in other areas of society. Why bother with trivial inconveniences in diet, household chores, etc, when there is a relatively cheap solution to satisfy needs or alleviate discomfort. Taken to extremes we end with consumerism and addicted to cheap energy. Therefore, when cheap lazy solutions are no longer available, the market will naturally shift back towards a more cooperative/community effort out of necessity.

I have been able to achieve, what I feel, is a good balance between micro-capitalism (along with associated personal liberties) & micro-communism in my personal life in the form of the shared micro-capitalism. Obviously anecdotes carry little weight outside of the particular situation, but I believe this one is relevant to your question.

I travel for my occupation, spending 3-12 months in each location. This provides me with the opportunity to use company per diems for short term housing to purchase medium term housing at reduced cost. Having done this for some time, I have determined the best housing solutions are small (both in unit size and total number of units) apartments which are independently owned/managed in a relatively urban setting (NOT suburban). I choose complexes that are priced just above the lowest available price point. The lowest available price points tend to have clusters of antisocial/mentally ill residents which make any collaboration difficult, whereas medium level and above price points tend to have residents that are able to afford “cheap” and “easy” alternatives to a shared capitalistic micro-economy.

Having small individual units with only some shared space for laundry, courtyard, etc; residents in these situations have much personal liberty. They also tend to have differing hobbies, interests and talents for which they utilize their limited resources. As a result, a “perfect storm” of cooperation often ensues. After moving in I quickly begin to forge alliances. I enjoy grilling food outdoors and weight training. I quickly make my personal gas grill and weight bench set available for anyone to use in the available community areas. I find someone to share wifi. Reciprocal offers soon abound and a micro-capitalistic economy of sharing continues. In fact, I often find that such arrangements are already in place in these types of communities, I simply have to work my way into the micro-economy.

In these micro-situations, the apartment complex owner is similar to government in the macro world, providing basic fair play rules. Each individual renter is free to choose how to spend capital and whether or not they wish to share the fruits of their labor. The majority choose to share some personal items and/or services as a result of their personal limited resources (low, but not lowest price point). Sharing begets sharing and the community as a whole is better off. There are always outliers who try to take advantage/abuse or simply do not wish to participate; they become excluded relatively quickly since resources are individually owned. I, for example, have the “right” to deny anyone use my grill or weight bench. Just as they have the ability to deny me use of their tools or sewing machine if the exchange no longer suits them. The microeconomic whole is made of the many microtransactions. Stopping a single transaction does not destroy the whole. Whereas, if the grill were community owned and there is an abuser, the only solution is to scold the individual (force societal norms of majority on the individual) or set up inefficient rules to the detriment of everyone (bureaucracy) since there is no “right” to deny use to anyone. The system quickly breaks down as participants tire of the bureaucracy or lack of individual property rights to the items they deem most valuable.

User avatar
BRUTE
Posts: 2366
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:20 pm

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by BRUTE » Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:55 am

7Wannabe5 wrote:How close do you think we are to the end of the global industrial age?
brute thinks not very close. this might be a typical techno-libertarian view, but brute thinks humans will just use something else once the oil runs out. will it be exactly the same? no. is there enough energy dense mass, or can it be constructed, to pretty much pick up oil's job? yes.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2670
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:36 am

vexed87 said: Modularity/open source is a fascinating topic, but as a solution to our problems, it won't matter much if our complex society collapses because we don't have the resources to maintain and manufacture our high tech gadgets and hyper-specialised way of life.
I agree that there is some level of trade-off, but I don't think it is absolutely insurmountable. For instance, for a routine task not requiring creative thought, it is more efficient to use solar energy processed by PVC to power a robot/machine, such as a modern tractor, to do the work than solar energy processed into potatoes to power a human to do the work. A draft animal such as a horse would fall somewhere in between. However, this obviously requires some high-tech factory somewhere producing new PVC to replace the old PVC when it wears out. But, there does exist a less efficient solution in which lenses are used to concentrate solar energy in order to heat water to run turbine, and the re-creation of this technology does not necessitate a high-tech factory. I think there are many such examples of ways in which maintenance of 21st scientific knowledge combined with pre-high-tech-industrial tool production could prove useful post-peak.
Ian Flemming's great work, Lean Logic basically addresses this whole concept, I strongly recommend it, it's a system thinker's wet dream!
Yes, it is definitely on my list. I am thinking that it would be a good companion to "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander, which is one of my all time favorites. I am currently in the process of having all the rare books I own on the topic of lost arts and crafts shipped back to me from Amazon's warehouses, so the post-peak future may find me holed up in some abandoned urban store-front sleeping in a cot in the corner, warming my fingers over some bio-fuel grate, surrounded by stacks of such works as "Garden-Craft: Old and New" (1890), "Metal Sculpture with a Torch" (1968), "Handbook of Textile Fibres" (1964), "Curiosities of Clocks and Watches from the Earliest Times" (1866), and "Art and the City: A History of the Arts and Crafts Society of Detroit" (1956) etc. etc. etc. Then I will trudge over to my garden plot where I will be endeavoring to maintain such varieties as Yukon Gold potatoes, Potawatomi flint corn, Bengali long beans, Iranian squash, Mortgage Lifter tomatoes and Peonies that were popular in the gardens of my region in the 1950s. My sister also intends to warehouse some pianos and sheet music for safe-keeping.
Confronted with this double madness of the laborers killing themselves with over-production and vegetating in abstinence, the great problem of capitalist production is no longer to find producers and to multiply their powers but to discover consumers, to excite their appetites and create in them fictitious needs. Since the European laborers, shivering with cold and hunger, refuse to wear the stuffs they weave, to drink the wines from the vineyards they tend, the poor manufacturers in their goodness of heart must run to the ends of the earth to find people to wear the clothes and drink the wines: Europe exports every year goods amounting to billions of dollars to the four corner of the earth, to nations that have no need of them.
-"The Right to Be Lazy", Paul Lafargue- 1907
classical_Liberal said: I have been able to achieve, what I feel, is a good balance between micro-capitalism (along with associated personal liberties) & micro-communism in my personal life in the form of the shared micro-capitalism.
Yes. I think micro-capitalism is a relevant concept. The quote I posted above from a 1907 work by Marx's son-in-law with a few updates of geography and verbiage could be a paragraph from any modern simple living ,frugality or retire-early blog. So, it is kind of like ERE combines a traditionally communistic sentiment with a micro-capitalistic solution. European peasants prior to the age of enclosure and industrialization were more self-sufficient. Some members of European nobility maintained the right/freedom to ride their horses across all the lands into the early 20th century. So, there is some level on which we still retain these values in our culture. And this is reflected in the dichotomy of the two distinct types of micro-capital sought by those in the ERE and like communities. The first form being personal ownership and maintenance of small tools and holdings of resources and the skills necessary to make use of them. The second form of micro-capital obviously being the ownership of small shares of stock in large productive corporate collections of tools.

Your example of one method for expanding the benefits of micro-capitalism through sharing, the thread on this forum on the topic of creating joint ERE community, corporate facilitated micro-capitalistic opportunities such as Uber, the community garden resource group to which I belong, and the open source ecology group can all be seen as attempts to bridge the gap between the first form of micro-capitalism and the second form of micro-capitalism.
brute thinks not very close. this might be a typical techno-libertarian view, but brute thinks humans will just use something else once the oil runs out. will it be exactly the same? no. is there enough energy dense mass, or can it be constructed, to pretty much pick up oil's job? yes.
Show me the math.

Farm_or
Posts: 152
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2016 8:57 am
Contact:

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by Farm_or » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:35 am

During a brainstorm session at a seminar years ago, I suggested to my group of farmers the idea of bartering equipment. Seems to me that if your neighbor has an under utilized disc, but doesn't own a drill, you would both be well served if you bought a way cool grain drill. You could both stretch your capital.

My idea was not anything new. There's way too much variable in our culture to be effective. Too many "world owes me a living" types that abuse borrowed machines and bring it back busted or they don't bring it back at all. It only takes one offense to ditch the whole project.

One case in point, I borrowed my neighbor's drill once. It was in usable condition, with a few holes patched with duct tape and card board. I thought I would express my appreciation by spending a few hours on it with my wire feed, patching those holes properly. I did a real professional job other than not having the matching paint color. I primered it though so it would not rust. It was all metal again and nice and smooth- good as new!

Not only that the owner was oblivious of the painstaking repair I did, but he billed me for the use at a rate that that I could have custom hired the job!

Nevertheless, there are a few relationships that I have established where sharing seems to work. Worse part is it took several years to figure out who's who

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2670
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:21 am

Farm_or said: During a brainstorm session at a seminar years ago, I suggested to my group of farmers the idea of bartering equipment. Seems to me that if your neighbor has an under utilized disc, but doesn't own a drill, you would both be well served if you bought a way cool grain drill. You could both stretch your capital.
Right. I think co-operatives of independent farmers would be a key example since community grain mills are probably the hallmark of human civilization. Even at my level of urban gardening, the benefits of sharing resources quickly becomes apparent. Seeds, cuttings, tools, labor-parties to raise the hoop-house etc. etc. I just broke down and purchased a 42 inch wrecking bar because I need to take apart some pallets for garden fencing and book shelf construction, but only after determining that nobody in my circle had one they weren't using and there wasn't one available at the junk store. I try to be a good sharer, but scavenging for a wrecking bar caused me to remember (oops!) that I still had a friend's post-hole digger in my possession, so I hastened to return it.

This is probably too micro to fit your purposes, but I have been contemplating how I could make use of a variety of such devices in my situation once I finish my robotics course-work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E4jpGoyakc

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 3806
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by Ego » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:04 am

At last count I have 56 tenants sharing the important systems of a building. Collectively we have a smaller actual footprint than a regular suburban home. It is an old building so everything is metered collectively. Last month we spent:

Gas: $1160
Electric: $1750
Sewer and Water $1025

Gas & electric were higher than normal this month because I ran the boiler for several days and some tenants were using portable electric heaters to make up the slack. In the summer we see a similar surge in electricity usage because we've been looking the other way regarding window air conditioners. If I had my druthers we'd install ceiling fans in every apartment and eliminate the use of air conditioners.

This is a purely capitalist solution. We "share" the equipment and I am the "parent" who relies mostly on well oiled systems to take care of disruptions.

Yesterday I wheeled out six trash cans (once a week) and four recycle cans (once every two weeks) and found a perfectly working microwave oven which I will recycle in my own way. Relative to people in the developing world, we create a lot of trash waste per person. Relative to people in the suburbs/xburbs, we create a minuscule amount of trash waste per person.

The city is working on a major water recycling project which will minimize our water inputs. Our electric is 35% solar and a little bit of wind with the rest being natural gas. There is a goal of 100% by 2030 and they are ahead of schedule to reach it.

We share a nearby park for recreation. We share bike lanes and many tenants use uber/lyft rather than own a personal car. Uber killed the Car2Go car sharing service. A few tenants use public transportation every day. Several walk to work.

A lot of our food comes from local farms 40-60 miles, but most of it travels 300 miles from the central valley.

User avatar
Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 843
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:57 pm

I didn't read all of the above (sorry) but you might like the book Sacred Economics. It's slow and dense but deals with possibilities beyond capitalism and involves ecology.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2670
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:17 pm

Ego said: Collectively we have a smaller actual footprint than a regular suburban home.
I'm sure this is true. A number of years ago I read a very good book (title escapes me) that explained how individuals who live in Manhattan have the smallest footprint in the U.S. However, I would note that in the era when suburban housing was first constructed, the occupancy rate of these houses was much higher. I would be curious to learn how the square footage/occupant of your complex compares to the 1958 overall average of 350 square ft. /person. Current new constructed suburban houses average almost 1000 square feet/occupant.

The problem with urban living in terms of system theory is not carbon footprint, but sustainability. If you included the central valley within the boundary of your system then you might have a potentially resilient closed-loop system. The urban realm where I share an 800 sq/ft lower flat with my sister and 3 dogs and own 3 vacant garden lots and a camper is the most densely populated area in the state of Michigan, with 22,000 residents in around 2 square miles. It would be impossible to grow enough food to feed this community within the community.

My BF, who once submitted an engineering design for better integrating their cooking/heating/cooling/refrigeration/ventilation systems to McDonald's, and has overseen many such mega-projects, thinks that the ideal solution would be to convince middle-class Americans that it is okay to live in upscale high-rise apartment complexes which could share efficient central geothermal pump facilities and surrounding green-spaces. In the area where we reside nothing remotely resembling this exists, and it is cheaper to buy than rent, and he likes to garden, so he is shopping for a 1950s/60s era brick ranch around 1200 square ft. to share part-time with his 12 year old son and possibly me if I fall weak in my resolve to occupy my urban camper and subject to persuasion. I vowed to never again live upon land over which I did not hold dominance, but it is not very easy to find an attractive man of my age/level-of-educational-attainment who is willing to live in a camper parked on a vacant lot garden within a situation of urban decay (sigh.)

User avatar
Riggerjack
Posts: 1726
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by Riggerjack » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:44 pm

Show me the math.
E=mc2

I know it has been decided here that once oil runs low, the world at large will embrace frugality, and peace will reign on earth. Or, we won't, and there will be a post Apocalyptic world where we fight over the scraps until there are no more scraps, or nature, etc. The bacteria will inherit the earth, and all that.

Or... We could use nuke power plants. Since we are currently using nukes, it seems pretty likely to me, that we will just do it more. There's no shortage of material, and once my generation dies off, the kids of the future are just likely to make the obvious choice, with less preprogrammed fear of radiation.

Or, we will continue to pump the engines of fear here. In other areas, they will embrace a nuke powered future. Then dump the waste here, where the economy died, land is cheap, and nobody cares what happens to those foolish Americans, anyway. Maybe we can have it all, a bright shining future on Earth, and a post Apocalyptic America...

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2670
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:04 pm

gilberto de Piento said: you might like the book Sacred Economics
Thanks for the recommendation. I will add it to my list.


riggerjack said: Or... We could use nuke power plants. Since we are currently using nukes, it seems pretty likely to me, that we will just do it more. There's no shortage of material
It is my understanding that this is debatable. Uranium and copper supplies are limited. Obviously, the problem with nuclear energy is the opposite of the problem with solar because it can only be centrally produced and then distributed over a network. The entire transportation industry would have to be converted to electric in order to make use of nuclear generated energy.

OTOH, I believe that it is already the case that the UN has prepared report indicating that food supply shortages are near-term inevitable in India if that region does not quickly expand nuclear generation. I don't think there is necessarily any one solution that makes best sense for all regions.

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 3806
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by Ego » Thu Feb 16, 2017 4:23 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote: I would be curious to learn how the square footage/occupant of your complex compares to the 1958 overall average of 350 square ft. /person. Current new constructed suburban houses average almost 1000 square feet/occupant.
288.21 square feet of living space per occupant not including the laundries and common area which allow for a cat to be swung just barely. The building was built in 1912 so the 1950s numbers seem decadent in comparison.
7Wannabe5 wrote:The problem with urban living in terms of system theory is not carbon footprint, but sustainability. If you included the central valley within the boundary of your system then you might have a potentially resilient closed-loop system.


Agreed. We have some ag in the county but not enough to sustain the population.

User avatar
Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 843
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:22 pm

gilberto de Piento said: you might like the book Sacred Economics


Thanks for the recommendation. I will add it to my list.
I forgot to mention, it is available free online (not stolen, from the author): http://sacred-economics.com/read-online/. I don't think it would be much fun to read on a computer but people can try it out there.

User avatar
BRUTE
Posts: 2366
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:20 pm

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by BRUTE » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:17 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:Show me the math.
no

User avatar
Riggerjack
Posts: 1726
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by Riggerjack » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:37 pm

It is my understanding that this is debatable. Uranium and copper supplies are limited. Obviously, the problem with nuclear energy is the opposite of the problem with solar because it can only be centrally produced and then distributed over a network.
I love solar, it even works here in drizzleville. However, there isn't enough photons hitting skyscrapers to power the elevators, let alone these super efficient urban dweller's iPhones. Solar, and density don't mix well. Urbanites will demand nukes, eventually.

From Wikipedia:
Uranium is more plentiful than antimony, tin, cadmium, mercury, or silver, and it is about as abundant as arsenic or molybdenum.[9][19] Uranium is found in hundreds of minerals, including uraninite (the most common uranium ore), carnotite, autunite, uranophane, torbernite, and coffinite.[9] Significant concentrations of uranium occur in some substances such as phosphate rock deposits, and minerals such as lignite, and monazite sands in uranium-rich ores[9] (it is recovered commercially from sources with as little as 0.1% uranium[14]).
And since it is so dense, it is relatively easy to isolate.

No, the real problem with nuke power is spectacularly mismanaged waste, plus the love and attention if the US government in the 40-60's spawning the hatred and fear of progressives in the 60-80's, resulting in the neglect from both the government and public for 45 years, while the rest of the world is moving forward.

The fear mongering is so great that when Fukushima happened, many people were afraid the plants would explode, and most people still don't understand what a meltdown means (hint: think ruined power plant, not China Syndrome). My favorite part of that mess was videos of hippies with Geiger counters on the beach announcing "Fukushima radiation is here!" While replicating 7th grade science class, showing that seawater is radioactive... :roll:

User avatar
Riggerjack
Posts: 1726
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by Riggerjack » Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:43 am

My BF, who once submitted an engineering design for better integrating their cooking/heating/cooling/refrigeration/ventilation systems to McDonald's, and has overseen many such mega-projects, thinks that the ideal solution would be to convince middle-class Americans that it is okay to live in upscale high-rise apartment complexes which could share efficient central geothermal pump facilities and surrounding green-spaces. In the area where we reside nothing remotely resembling this exists,
This must be the guy who thinks flat roofs are a great idea. I like geothermal, too. But it doesn't work well with density. You are moving heat with a heat pump. So, in a closed loop system, you pull heat from a huge area, and move it into your house. If you have a small yard, you can pull heat from wells, substituting depth for breadth. But this is more difficult/expensive, and only works if your neighbors don't do the same thing. Because the heat you are pulling from the earth, would have radiated out in your, and their, lots. If everybody does it, it becomes a literal race to the bottom.

In an open loop system, you pump ground water up, remove heat, pump it back down. Again, it doesn't work if everyone does it.

So unless the idea is to build an independent archology, in isolation, put this in the flat roof file.

User avatar
vexed87
Posts: 1177
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:02 am
Location: Yorkshire, UK

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by vexed87 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:12 am

Riggerjack wrote: The fear mongering is so great that when Fukushima happened, many people were afraid the plants would explode, and most people still don't understand what a meltdown means (hint: think ruined power plant, not China Syndrome).
Sorry I dont mean to derail the thread, but I wonder what the EROEI ratio on the Fukushima plant looks like? Probably a decimal figure considering the financial and economical losses incurred since the tsunami, not sure when Fukushima was planned to be decommissioned, but I assume early termination resulted in steep financial losses and significant reduction on the EROEI ratio figure. The cost of management of the crisis and lost energy production no doubt made the whole affair a huge liability on Japanese society, even if the commercial company was culpable, it's society, both present and future that bears the brunt, nuclear plants are 'too serious to fail', inevitably some do, as the world becomes more unstable politically and economically, I think the chances of that happening are on the up, whether or not that affects the viability of the industry is beyond me.

Nuclear probably makes sense if you ignore the cost of waste management, decommissioning etc, but also the stuff you can't put a cost on like health of future generations and damage to local ecology. Despite our wonderful advances in health, tech etc, I'm not sure industrial civilisation is worth saving if it means dumping radioactive waste into the environment an a massive scale, (one way or another, some waste is going to escape containment and create major dead zones. Maybe it's fearmongering to suggest it, but Murphy law applies given the half-life of waste and the subsequent time scales we are going to have to manage the waste. As a species, we don't have a great track record for safety and environmental protection.

Of course, the industry shrugs this off or plays it down. I'll stick my neck out and make the bet these costs are purposely ignored in business cases presented to nation states, primarily damaging their EROEI calcs. Like any other industry, nuclear will be happy to gobble government subsidies and cheap loans, and gaurenteed market prices for energy, but it's local people who will bear the costs long into the future. Nuclear is simply not financially viable without government backing, for the same reasons that $100 oil cannot be tolerated for long. We can't get our new plants off the ground in the UK, I'd be surprised if we managed a roll out a new generation of nuclear plants at all before the markets start to collapse as a result of declining petroleum production.

The UK at least, (though I suspect that the USA is no different in this respect) would do better to focus attention on locally available sources of energy which we can control ourselves, domestically, without dependence on fuel, tech or infrastructure imports, resilience over efficiency is key going forwards. To cobble together an analogy, nuclear (and to be fair, grid scale renewables are in a similar category) is like the concrete boots we strap on the feet of society as it grapples with the consequences of peak EROEI, which acts as constant distraction from the obvious answer, to take off the boots, or organise society around the idea that the sun gives out a particular amount of energy in a given day, and stop sinking, or chasing 'unlimited' energy in the name of economic growth.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2670
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:43 am

BRUTE said: no
lol- Apologize if I came off terse. I have been running low-level intermittent fever due to frequent association with children recently immigrated.
Riggerjack said: No, the real problem with nuke power is spectacularly mismanaged waste
Right, and I do not see anything resembling a change in this reality. Humans are very short-sighted. I am currently very frustrated with the behaviors/agendas of both sides of the political spectrum (trickle-down monopoly market idiocy vs. everything-and-the-kitchen-sink-inclusivity towards complete ineffectiveness) in my neck of the woods. The infrastructure that grew up and around the declining automotive industry is in decay, so property values are extremely low, but the city of Detroit is located on a major river, in a region that includes a huge percentage of the fresh water supply on the planet, and is capable of growing the widest variety of food outside of California. So, IMHO, it does not seem even medium term rational to choose to increase the amount of toxic waste being sequestered here, while lawns are being watered and air conditioners are humming in the realm of new crap-azz construction in the middle of some god-forsaken desert.
Riggerjack said: This must be the guy who thinks flat roofs are a great idea.
lol- You should show some mercy and recall that he is stuck in debate with a person who is trying to convince him to live in a slightly leaky 1970s camper on a vacant lot in a not-entirely-safe urban situation. He has already admitted that I am "the brains of the operation", but I think we should give him some credit for some level of expertise in the realm in which he has been paid the big bucks by a variety of governments/corporations. I think that what he would say about the "flat roof" matter would be that it is likely that you are somebody who is involved in the residential roofing industry which rips off consumers by convincing them to retain a "quaint" solution which is rarely observed on any commercial structure. I think what he would say about the geo-thermal matter would be that his solution would be inclusive of razing all the archaic pre-mid-20th century and crappy-post-mid-20th century near-urban family homes in our region, and replacing them with steel high rise housing surrounded by green-space, so there would be no neighbors with whom to compete for geo-thermal. He would also likely admit that geo-thermal would not offer a complete solution in our region where the winters are very cold and the summers can be hot and humid.....something, something, something... equation, equation, equation...ventilation!!!....waste outputs integrated...something, something, something.

He also believes that some of my tendencies towards self-sufficient generalist functioning are wrong-minded because I am wasting my brain and causing other people to not have jobs which they might need to keep themselves fed. I am halfway convinced that he is right, because I currently reside in a neighborhood where I can readily find 8th graders with crack-head mothers willing to shovel the snow on my property for the price of a pizza, and recently immigrated women who will prepare a tray of roasted eggplant, peppers and chicken for an hourly wage less than I procure for teaching their kids algorithm for long division.

Part of the reason (most of the reason having to do with retention of full head of hair and cute azz and willingness to play a bit rough) I keep him around in spite of idiotic voting behavior, is that I find his methods towards frugality/conservation an interesting complement to my own. For instance, when not traveling for work, he resides with his best friend who is an eccentric very frugal multi-millionaire in his 70s. The ancient mailbox mounted near the porch on his friend's house finally fell apart. Instead of buying a new mailbox, he took it to an iron worker he hired on some major contract and had him weld it back together. And, he took a hideously ugly broken belt that somebody bought him to a local independent shoe repair guy to have the buckle replaced and the leather dyed a more attractive matte black. IOW, he is more inclined to appreciate or accumulate an eclectic "village" of others who have artisan specialist skills which they trade for money.

User avatar
Riggerjack
Posts: 1726
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by Riggerjack » Sun Feb 19, 2017 7:56 pm

@ vexed 87
I wonder what the EROEI ratio on the Fukushima plant looks like? Probably a decimal figure considering the financial and economical losses incurred since the tsunami, not sure when Fukushima was planned to be decommissioned, but I assume early termination resulted in steep financial losses and significant reduction on the EROEI ratio figure.

:D
Right... So, your argument is that a disaster is not energy efficient? I haven't run the numbers on the San Francisco fire, but I assume it was a loss too. Are we going to use the disasters as the measurement for what we are going to do now? That would mean no airplanes, cars, TVs, knives, laundry soap, dates, play dates, hell, it looks like we will have to restrict ourselves to a padded room thinking happy thoughts, but even that may have hazards.

Coal plants produce more radioactive waste than a nuke plant of equal capacity. If radioactive waste is your concern, you should be pro nuke. Unless you think spreading it downwind is an effective storage technique. I imagine we could work something like that out, and it would still be cleaner than coal, no CO2, so cleaner than Nat gas. Honestly, if you call yourself environmentally conscious, nuke seems like everything you want out of society. No CO2, less radioactive than coal, a solid base to power the grid making up for the variability of wind and solar, and doesn't damage watersheds, like hydo. Oh, right, it sounds scary, and we have had multiple generations of fear mongering.

The death toll from Chernobyl was 30 people, and the old town is turning into a nature park. The death toll from 3 mile island was zero. The death toll from Fukushima is a complete unknown, with official estimates running from zero to hundreds, but we don't study long term radiation exposure risk, the last study by the DOE, was killed under the Obama administration, so the money could increase the budget of a study of birds.

Yeah, that's right, the Nobel laureates the the Douche replaced with Perry, killed a 16 year study of long term radiation exposure, by the DOE, (who oversee all nuke research) so the biologist in charge of the department could increase the budget of a study in her field by 3%.

I expect the body count of Fukushima to be low, under a dozen. But even if it is higher than any estimate, say, 900, 30 times higher than Chernobyl, that still puts every death tied to every nuke plant throughout all history, at less than the deaths caused by laundry soap poisoning in the US alone, every single year. And still lower than the death count from the earthquake.

The arguments against nukes boil down to "it's scary, mkay? Hell, it's scary to think about." And that's fine, I use hydro, and will retire with solar, maybe some wind. I have no skin in this game, I just object to being lied to.

My point is that when other power gets expensive and fails, the common man ain't gonna buy this anymore, and when given the choice between his electric SUV and walking, suddenly he will be a big fan of nuke power, and dropping glass bricks in the desert will seem a good idea.

Which is only relevant to this topic, because the energy doom math always assumes there won't be more nuke power. I think that is a silly oversight.

User avatar
vexed87
Posts: 1177
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:02 am
Location: Yorkshire, UK

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by vexed87 » Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:05 am

@riggerjack, :lol: No that's not my argument per se, it was just a thought experiment for my benefit. I didn't really make my point well. In the second paragraph, I was making an assumption of what might happen if we scale up nuclear to replace declining petroleum, which won't happen, as the infrastructure won't be in place in time to power our transportation systems, air, freight etc. Sorry, didn't explain my rambling thoughts very well!
Which is only relevant to this topic, because the energy doom math always assumes there won't be more nuke power. I think that is a silly oversight.
I'm not so sure that our benevolent overloads are so forward thinking as to begin the roll out in time.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 9031
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by jacob » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:37 pm

If [world] policy is going to change towards increasing the stockpile rather than decreasing it, I think it would push in the direction of the Russians stop selling their old weapons grade material to US reactors instead of boosting their own arsenals. There's currently, IIRC, a 20% shortfall in terms of usage vs mining when it comes to uranium fuel with the shortfall being made up with what is figuratively a swords to plowshares program. Also, instead of building new reactor designs, presumably nations would want to stay with the old designs which were primarily chose for their ability to produce plutonium.

Some minor solutions/issues. IIRC uranium can be extracted in infinite supplies from seawater that's about 10x(?) most costly than current mining costs. That should actually be cheap enough. The other issue is the difficulty in running a mining operation based on electric power. There's no Tesla Truck.

Some major issues. Breeder reactors generate plutonium. That's a concern from a proliferation point of view because plutonium can be refined via chemical means whereas uranium requires sophisticated centrifuges and accelerators. IOW, any country who gets to run a breeder reactor would be able to build the bomb if they so chose to.

I suspect both of these issues will be ignored if the choice is to expand the arsenal ... because that would just continue business as usual ... relying on policy or market signals but with no real advance decade or century long planning.

Myakka
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:39 am

Re: Micro-capitalism vs. micro-communism

Post by Myakka » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:04 pm

There are reasons why the elites are now desperately seeking the last drops of available fossil fuels via techniques such as fracking and tar sands oil extractions. Oil is ideal for their purposes of domination and control of the rest of us and they are unwilling to adapt or give any of their power up. Oil is not only energy, but it is energy over which they have long been able to exert exclusive control of via both military and technological means. That is to say all of our technology and all of our cultural system is designed to burn their oil we are able to buy by playing their game.

The ability of North Korea to maintain its own nuclear power is direct evidence that nuclear is not even close to giving them exclusivity they enjoy with fossil fuels.

One day the finite oil must evitably become insufficient to maintain what they have been using it for and they will be in crisis/we will all suffer for our dependency on their fragile system. OR possibly one of the many other internal contradictions of their system will trip them up before that. A very common one in other empires has been the gradual inability of the elite to comprend the common people -- and there are many signs that this phenomena is increasing in the United States. Another key internal contradiction is that our civilization is using fresh water much faster than it is being replenished -- it may be that that will ultimately be the limiting factor rather than oil.

I think that the crash will be very soon if the new leader in Washington is permitted to go on mismanaging things in the manner he has already started to do. It took W. seven years to break our economy. I bet T. can do it in less than that.

I hope I am wrong about that.

Post Reply