Monday, June 29, 2009

The Cost of Cap-and-Trade by State

So there's a bill to do something about global warming that's wending it's way through the US Congress; it's known as Waxman-Markey, after its two main sponsors. The bill would institute a cap-and-trade system that would limit CO2 emissions; if implemented, it would ultimately have some cost to consumers - about $175/annum for the average American household by 2020. But those costs wouldn't be distributed evenly, and Nate Silver has a map of how those per-household costs would break down by state:

cap and trade cost by state

Nate has all the gory methodological details in his post. I just want to make two points:

1) This bill is, by itself, inadequate, has gotten watered down considerably already, and will undoubtedly be further watered down in the Senate; and, indeed, I'd be shocked if it passed the Senate at all. But the way to think about it, I think, is as a contribution to a conditional chain: if the US government fails to do anything in the reasonably near future to fight global warming, then horrible catastrophe is inevitable; but if the US does pass even a weak bill, then an international agreement becomes more likely; and if that happens, then altering the energy-intensive development of China becomes a possibility; and if that happens, then we might be able to moderate the slew of catastrophic consequences that are gathering for the end of this century.

2) The United States is not really a democracy, not by modern standards. I'm not talking about all the corruption, the lobbying, and the tilting of the playing field toward special interests, though you could surely make a decent case for the non-democraticness of the US on those grounds alone.

What I'm talking about, though, is the US Senate. Wyoming, which has about half a million people, has two senators. And New York, which has about 19,000,000 people, also has two senators. Florida, which might well be drowned in a century or two by rising seas, has 18,000,000 people and two senators. West Virginia, which produces a lot of coal, has less than 2 million people - and two senators. You see where I'm going with this? The United States government, which was revolutionary and awesome back in the 18th Century, should no longer be considered to have a legislature that meets modern standards for representative democracy. I'm not the first to point this out, of course, but it really doesn't get the attention it deserves. I mean, the form of government of the US is obsolete: why isn't this a matter for public discussion? And of course, the skewing of representative democracy tends to pull in favor of rural areas, which tend to both use and produce more in the way of CO2-heavy fossil fuels, and against urban areas, which are more energy-efficient and more supportive of efforts to fight global warming. So, to the litany of insidious aspects of the global warming challenge, add this: the outmoded institutional structure of the United States government.

39 comments:

Andrew said...

"energy-intensive development"

This comment is silly and ridiculous. All human economic development is energy intensive. Anyone who doesn't think so has no idea how things are grown or made or how the economy works.

Energy consumption is directly related to economic development, growth in production, and the expansion of the human species. If we wish to do away with a large amount of energy consumption, we need to be prepared to live more like the Amish or Hutterites.

I don't notice anyone here and very few anywhere in the US volunteering to do without electricity and automotive transport for the good of the planet. Absent that committment, all the talk of carbon footprints and CO2 reduction is merely a bunch of hypocritical hot air.

K H D and sometimes T said...

don't those clean, efficient cities largely rely on those damned un-green rural areas to produce filthy things like power, cheap food and so on? Presenting cities as closed systems of efficiency seems a little unrealistic and potentially deceptive.

Andrew said...

Yeah, Andrew, but a lot of people are spending their lives using electricity that is NOT produced by coal, reducing their reliance on automotive transport by living in a city, riding a bike, or using public transportation.

Of course all economic development is energy intensive. The discussion is (or should be) how can development be maximized for the energy expended? How can the energy be produced in a more efficient and less carbon-intensive way?

Your sweeping generalizations are neither helpful nor correct. Most people don't want to start living like the Amish. But when it takes 3 lumps of coal to produce the energy stored in 1 lump of coal, we are being lazy and caviler about our resource usage. I won't speak to the post's assertion that American representative democracy is not up to the task of eliminating climate change. But I do think that MANY of your fellow citizens are concerned about this issue and making meaningful changes in their lives toward the better.

Andrew said...

"The United States is not really a democracy"

The US has never been a democracy. Its a democratic Republic.

"The United States government ... should no longer be considered to have a legislature that meets modern standards for representative democracy."

WHOSE standards? What nebulous body (or busybody) gets to decide what is good enough to qualify for flavor of the month "modern standards"?

"I mean, the form of government of the US is obsolete: why isn't this a matter for public discussion?"

Maybe because the US Constitution forbids changing the representation of States in the Senate, even by Amendment.

The intention of the US Senate is to give equal representation to State governments in the national legislature. This is why the 17th Amendment and the direct election of Senators was such a bad idea, and also why Reynolds vs. Sims was such a bad idea on the State level. If the people are simply to elect everyone and everything equally without regard to any other factors, we should have a single unicameral national legislature empowered and competent to legislate in all areas and subjects whatsoever.

Precisely because laws and measures can have a disproportionate geographic impact is why there should be an institution like the US Senate, or like State Senates before Reynolds. Their purpose is to thwart the ability of one or two geographically small locales which happens to have a very large population from dominating the governance of a whole state, and dictating to people spread over a huge swath of land who have differing temperments, needs, and desires how they must order and live their lives.

Unequal Senatorial representation is a form of protection of minority rights. Its obviously unpopular among many "Progressives" because it currently upholds the rights of the rural/small town/exurban "backwards" white American population.

Carrying your logic through that would abolish the unequal representation of the US Senate, why not go whole hog and abolish the states, like France did to its counties in 1789? Having States still leads to unequal representation even in the US House. Rhode Island with barely over 1 million people gets two house seats, while Montana, with just under 1 million people only gets one. The "one man, one vote" logic dictates that State boundaries should not be relevant to districting, and that all representation should be absolutely equal, which is only possible when district boundaries can be drawn without regard to State borders.

Where does this sort of stuff end? Does tradition and established practice ever have any merit?

Andrew said...

Other Andrew:

"a lot of people are spending their lives using electricity that is NOT produced by coal"

Electricity is fungible and comixed. Outside of a closed system, its impossible to say you are not relying on coal or fuel oil powered electricity.

"reducing their reliance on automotive transport by living in a city, riding a bike, or using public transportation."

I do all those things myself, but not because I'm an environmentalist. Rather, its cheaper for me in my situation and I'd rather not throw my money away if I don't have to. However, its impossible for modern cities to exist with their present populations without energy intensive activities in the hinterlands or energy intensive world trade.

"How can the energy be produced in a more efficient and less carbon-intensive way? ... when it takes 3 lumps of coal to produce the energy stored in 1 lump of coal, we are being lazy ... about our resource usage."

Ultimate efficiency is governed by the ability of mechanical devices to transform heat into motion. Nobody is purposefully using 3 lumps of coal to get 1 lumps worth of energy. That simply what our mechanical devices can achieve, given things like thermodynamics.

"the better"

It is this presuppositional arrogance that really bothers me. I don't take it as indisputable divine revelation that the positions of environmentalists are "the better".

Andrew said...

@Andrew, Point by point:
1.) Yes, of course electricity is co-mingled. You could agree that: electricity is lost as transmission distances increase; that electricity produced locally will be mostly consumed locally; that if I as a consumer demand that my electricity utility purchase MORE sustainable electricity, it doesn't matter if the actual electrons flowing through this computer are moved by wind production..my purchasing power has made a small change for the entire system.

2. Good for you, right? More sustainable choices can be more economic. You've been moved by Smith's "invisible hand." And who said anything about doing away with the "hinterlands?" The city/rural split has been hyped as if the two factions were moral enemies. Each relies on the other, and both suffer from inequalities, injustices, and waste. We need to be smarter about both in the future.

3. So, no one should increase the efficiencies of anything because of "thermodynamics?" Come on.

4. You're right, that probably was a poor choice of words. I agree that everything should be questioned, and definitely "environmentalists" do not or should not have the moral imperative. I think the sustainability of our future is a common human goal. But there are certainly metrics can help us make decisions about how to live our lives in ways that will ensure the healthiness and happiness of as many people as possible.

So, I wonder if you have a positive comment to add (and I don't mean to say your comments are negative, I just mean that you dismiss other arguments with out offering a productive counter)?

Any thoughts about my questions? Here they are again: how can we maximize development for the energy expended? How can energy be produced in a more efficient and less carbon-intensive way?

Chachy said...

Andrew - no two-word phrase, sans context, can be silly and ridiculous; and in the relevant context (here's a reminder: "altering the energy-intensive development of China"), I dare say the phrase is perfectly unsilly and irridiculous: it means changing the course that China has been on. And to see what I mean by that course, see this chart, which comes from this post at The Oil Drum.

I more or less agree with your second paragraph, though there's obviously lots of room to develop renewable energies to bridge part of the gap between Amish and contemporary Western/industrialized lifestyles.

As for your last paragraph: I would so totally be down with, say, a hefty carbon tax to limit CO2 emissions, even if that meant some rationing of electricity and certain forms of automotive transport.

Many Consonants - It's true that those "efficient cities largely rely on those damned un-green rural areas to produce filthy things like power, cheap food and so on." But then again, those damned un-green rural areas also depend on those damned un-green rural areas to produce power, food, etc.; so call them even on that score. But the tiebreaker, in my opinion, is that cities consume much less per capita (people in rural areas tend to drive long distances, heat large homes rather than apartments, etc.).

2nd Andrew - Note that I didn't say "that American representative democracy is not up to the task of eliminating climate change." Just that our institutional arrangements (particularly the Senate) tend to put a finger on the scales against it happening.

3rd (1st?) Andrew - Good, now we're having a public discussion about it! Now, is it really true that the Constitution says we can't make an amendment changing representation in the Senate? What if we made an amendment to change the anti-amendment clause? I mean, there's got to be a way around it. And: I'm all for protecting minority rights - the Constitution is good for ensuring that sort of thing. Still, other nations get along perfectly well with unicameral legislatures; and in parliamentary systems there's not even really a distinct executive branch to act as a check, even. The fact is, we have a situation at the moment where rural states, representing a small minority of the US population, essentially have veto power over national policy (on issues where their interests tend to align, like climate change). This is a problem.

"it currently upholds the rights of the rural/small town/exurban "backwards" white American population..."

At the expense of urban/suburban Americans of all races. That's like saying a law that allows egregious pollution is upholding the rights of a factory owner to pollute, even if thousands die from the pollution from his factory. I mean, it's true; but it's hardly just, because it comes at the expense of others' rights.

"Does tradition and established practice ever have any merit?"

Absolutely! But when institutions become crippled by their own inflexibility, then they need to be reformed. It's not a binary choice: there's a lot of room between never making any reforms and starting a latter-day French Revolution. Why act like those are the only two options?

4th (presumably still 1st) Andrew - "Rather, its cheaper for me in my situation and I'd rather not throw my money away if I don't have to."

That's a pithy way to make the case for a carbon tax!

"its impossible for modern cities to exist with their present populations without energy intensive activities in the hinterlands or energy intensive world trade."

Two things: 1) But you have to acknowledge that there's TONS of room for increased efficiency!

2) Having said that, you might be right. Downscaling communities is one thing we may have to look at (and may be forced to look at rather soon, as peak oil begins its slow squeeze of global civilization).

Andrew said...

Chachy:

(people in rural areas tend to drive long distances, heat large homes rather than apartments, etc.)

What rural people live in large homes? Most homes in rural areas are on the smaller side. Certainly not the 2000 sq. ft. plus homes of modern urban and suburba areas.

Apartments in cities? Outside of a handful of neighborhoods here and there, and the island of Manhattan, most people in American cities live in homes. Row homes in Philly and Baltimore, single family homes in Pittsburgh and LA and San Fran and Miami. Even many of the apartments in those cities are essentially homes on the 2nd and 3rd floors over a business.

Now, is it really true that the Constitution says we can't make an amendment changing representation in the Senate? What if we made an amendment to change the anti-amendment clause? I mean, there's got to be a way around it

"no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate." (Article V)

Is there a way around this? Yes. The entire Constitution could be abolished, and a new form of government drawn up, as done in 1787 to the Articles of Confederation. However, the new Constitution and government could not be legally forced on any state which did not wish to be a part of it. That gets us right back to the clause itself - each state has the power to prevent it being denied equal sufferage.

rural states, representing a small minority of the US population, essentially have veto power over national policy

Really, its a matter of small population states vs. large ones, not rural vs. urban. Some large states, like Pennsylvania, are very much beholden to small town and rural interests (Metro Philly + Metro Pittsburgh less than 50% of PA population), while some small states, like Delaware and Rhode Island, are hardly "rural" in nature, and places like Utah and Nevada, while largely empty ad "rural", have most of their people living in one or two urbanized areas. One of the most rural states, Vermont, which doesn't have a single town of even 50,000 people, is also probably our most liberal and progressive politically. And many large states with huge rural/small town populations like Michigan and Illinois, are entirely beholden politically to a single large city and its suburbs (Detroit and Chicago) which probably fail to do justice to the interests of the minority of people living in the other 90% of the land area of the state.

Downscaling communities is one thing we may have to look at

Unless this is done by the free choices of the inhabitants, the tone of the comment is sinisterly like the Khmer Rouge's depopulation massacres. The anonymous "we" doing the planning is disturbing too.

Chachy said...

"Outside of a handful of neighborhoods here and there, and the island of Manhattan, most people in American cities live in homes."

Boy is this wrong! I don't know if it's literally true that most city-dwellers live in houses, but the implication that an insignificant number live in apartments - not enough to make cities considerably more energy-efficient - is way off base. I want to object just on prima facie grounds, but if you need data, 1/3 of Americans live in apartments, according to this site. That's not just cities - that's all Americans, including many millions in suburbs.

Re: the Constitution: Yep, Article V is a tricky one. Still, I think the curiously non-representative nature of the Senate deserves more acknowledgment. Everyone just acts like its totally reasonable that Vermont gets as many senators as Texas, but it's really not, and more discussion of that fact might improve the chances for reform, if only in indirect ways (e.g., depriving support for the filibuster, which exacerbates all the problems I mentioned in the post).

Re: small states v. large states: yeah, that's a more precise way to put it, but on balance the effect is to underrepresent people who live in large cities and over-represent, e.g., agricultural interests.

"Unless this is done by the free choices of the inhabitants, the tone of the comment is sinisterly like the Khmer Rouge's depopulation massacres. The anonymous 'we' doing the planning is disturbing too."

You tricky bastard! I had to get all the way to the end of your comment to realize you weren't interested in having a reasonable discussion.

Gus Snarp said...

There is not reason we can't have a new constitutional convention, and there are many reasons to do it, so it is technically possible to fix all sorts of problems with our democracy (I would go after the electoral college first - talk about obsolete), but I'm pretty confident that the polarization in this nation is such that we could never agree on a constitution, and if we could, it would likely be worse than the one we currently have.

And communities are downscaling (see Detroit). I sincerely doubt that Chachy is suggesting genocide. The fact is that the earth's population is not sustainable using current technology at the standard of living of the average American (or even European). Something will have to give: the population, the standard of living, or the technology, likely some combination thereof. Or we can just assume that the bulk of the world's population will continue to live in conditions we would find abominable in order for us to continue to live in relative luxury (please don't tell me you don't live in luxury, the fact that you are reading this on a computer says that you do, compared to most of say, Africa). You might argue that the free market will take care of this, but like it or not there are two huge flaws with the free market: it responds poorly to incremental change - the market is unlikely to respond to environmental problems until it is too late to avoid catastrophic change, and the free market is perfectly willing to let those who fail in the market place starve and die. Every time you think the market should handle all of this, think of what that means to sub-Saharan Africa, where things are bad now. Under global warming there will be famines and death on a much broader scale - the market will kill enough people to make the Khmer Rouge look like cub scouts.

"We" mean us, anyone who takes part in the discussion. In this case in a blog, but also by voting, writing letters to our representatives, to the editor of the paper, etc. There's been a lot of talk about whether this is a democracy or not, but ultimately you don't get or stay in office without the votes of the people, so yes, this is a democracy and "we" should talk seriously about the issues that face us in the future. Or maybe "we" means "we the people".

Andrew said...

"We" mean us, anyone who takes part in the discussion.

"We" needs to mean everyone directly affected by the decisions made. There is far too long a history of redlining, urban "renewal", public "ware"housing and other devious practices to force voiceless and powerless Americans into situations not of their own choosing and definitely not to their own benefit. The people most affected by these decisions are generally the people least able to make any contribution to a public discussion.

Worse, frequently, past discussions already had a preordained conclusion, with the overseers of the discussion merely turning and directing the participants to come "voluntarily" to the desired outcome using false choices and veiled threats. The Quakers, and those elites following in their philosophical footsteps, have been practicing and imposing this government by "consensus" for many centuries now int he US, and are quite adept at it. I've watched it up close and personal in the Philadelphia area for many years. The discussion overseers ALWAYS win because all the choices presented in the discussion always end one up at the outcome they desire.

Heads I win, tails you lose.

Andrew said...

Chachy:

You tricky bastard!

Step outside yourself a moment and read your comment from someone hearing it from that angle.

"Downscaling communities is one thing we may have to look at"

Downscaling? How? Merely moving people about doesn't "downscale" the American community as a whole. One of Karl Marx's societal goals was a leveling of the population between cities and countryside, something we are accomplishing via sprawl right now.

Communities? What is the definition of this word? Neighborhoods, cities, metropolises, connurbations? Ethno-religious groups? Economic classes? What communities? Obviously politics being what it is, the powerless will be the first to be "downscaled", as has already happened in many cities in the Rust Belt.

We? Who is we?

Look at? Does this mean "bring people to accept our point of view?

I know you mean the phrase innocently, but other people using and hearing the same words don't.

Gus Snarp said...

Andrew - The founding fathers, who everyone treats like gods in this country, who wrote this constitution and established these traditions that you (and many others) are loath to change, didn't agree on much of anything, but they clearly talked about all of it. If people in a public forum can't have a discussion about the direction of the country, then how can we have a democracy? You seem to be reading a lot into these posts that just isn't there. There is no doubt that many have been kept out of discussing issues that are vitally important to them. However, the people who have always been in the discussions are the very people who oppose any kind of environmental regulation. While carbon regulation is undoubtedly a new and more complex issue, successful efforts to implement environmental legislation have often been all about empowering the voiceless in communities that have experienced the most harm from pollution. Believe me, the power industry, agribusiness, and others who oppose cap and trade are certainly not without a voice on these issues.

But ultimately, "we", and this time I mean anyone who wants to - i.e., you, me, Chachy, literally, anybody who chooses to speak in any forum, must be able to ask these questions in a calm and rational manner without eliciting knee jerk, conspiracy minded reactions that attack the very asking of the question instead of contributing to the answers or democracy is wasted. You certainly can say "hey, we need to make an effort to involve all the stakeholders here and make sure everyone has a voice" or "that proposal is problematic because...(specifics). But you shouldn't say "shut up. don't question my constitution. This very vague nebulous discussion sounds like you're talking about forced euthanasia". (I know, I'm exaggerating, but you're talking about what it sounds like when we say "downscale communities", this is what you sound like to me). When anyone actually proposes killing people off to control the population I will stand right next to you and scream that they are wrong, but I think it takes a conspiratorial stretch of the imagination to arrive at that conclusion from this discussion.

Richard said...

Sub-Saharan Africa hasn't suffered from the effects of free market economics. Sub-Saharan Africa, for the most part, has not _experienced_ free market economics (based on a independent legal system respecting property rights and all that). In general, Sub-Saharan Africa has been ruled by a collection of tribally-based kleptocracies which have, more often than not, chosen to implement socialist command economies.

Richard said...

Oh, and BTW, global warming is good for some, bad for others, but what really would suck would be the continued acidification of the oceans if cardon emmissions are not controlled.

Andrew said...

Chachy:

Boy is this wrong! I don't know if it's literally true that most city-dwellers live in houses, but the implication that an insignificant number live in apartments - not enough to make cities considerably more energy-efficient - is way off base.

Look at the census. I take it as self-evident that actual homes generally have more people living in each housing unit than apartments given that houses are bigger than apartments and families with children or extended families prefer living in homes vs. apartments.

Chicago - 528K of 1.152M housing units are singles or twins, and another 166K are triplexes or quads.

LA - 687K of 1.416M housing units are singles or twins, and another 91K are triplexes or quads.

DC - 117K of 274K housing units are singles or twins and 22K more are triplexes or quads.

Miami - 177K of 340K housing units are singles or twins and 17K more are triplexes or quads.

Boston - 79K of 252K housing units are singles or twins 66K more are triplexes or quads.

Brooklyn - 296K of 931K housing units are singles or twins and 159K more are triplexes or quads.

Queens - 409K of 817K housing units are singles or twins and 85K more are triplexes or quads.

Pittsburgh - 112K of 163K housing units are singles or twins and 13K more are triplexes or quads.

Philadelphia - 506K of 662K housing units are singles or twins and 45K more are triplexes or quads.

Baltimore - 216K of 300K housinng units are singles or twins and 23K more are triplexes or quads.

Minneapolis - 100K of 168K housing units are singles or twins, 8K more triplexes or quads.

St. Paul - 72K of 115K housing units are singles or twins, 5K more are triplexes or quads.

St. Louis - 110K or 176K units are singles or twins, 29K more are triplexes or quads.

Cleaveland - 156K of 216K units are singles or twins, 17K more are triplexes or quads.

Seattle - 233K of 404K are singles or twins, 18K are triplexes or quads.

Milwaukee - 171K of 249K are singles or twins, 20K are triplexes or quads.

In these cities, 50%+ of housing units are homes, not apartment buildings. I think its obvious that most of their population is not living in apartments.

Now compare that to:

Manhattan - 11K of 798K housing uits are singles or twins and 17K are triplexes or quads.

Bronx - 96K of 491K housing units are singles or twins, and 36K are triplexes or quads.

Andrew said...

Chachy:

More from Census. They also publish occupacy by unit size.

Chicago - 57% in singles or twins, 15% in triplexes and quads.

LA - 56% in singles or twins, 6% in triplexes and quads.

DC - 53% in singles or twins, 7% in triplexes and quads.

Miami - 64% in singles or twins, 5% in triplexes and quads.

Boston - 38% in singles or twins, 29% in triplexes and quads.

Brooklyn - 37% in singles or twins, 17% in triplexes and quads..

Queens - 56% in singles or twins, 10% in triplexes and quads.

Pittsburgh - 78% in singles or twins, 6% in triplexes and quads..

Philadelphia - 85% in singles or twins, 5% in triplexes and quads.

Baltimore - 81% in singles or twins, 5% in triplexes and quads.

Minneapolis - 69% in singles or twins, 5% in triplexes and quads.

St. Paul - 73% in singles or twins, 5% in triplexes and quads.

St. Louis - 73% in singles or twins, 5% in triplexes and quads.

Cleaveland - 82% in singles or twins, 6% in triplexes and quads.

Seattle - 68% in singles or twins, 4% in triplexes and quads.

Milwaukee - 78% in singles or twins, 7% in triplexes and quads.

Now compare that to:

Manhattan - 2% in singles or twins, 4% in triplexes and quads.

Bronx - 22% in singles or twins, 8% in triplexes and quads.

That's a pretty stark contrast isn't it? Outside of Manhattan (6%), Bronx (30%), and Brooklyn (54%), every intact (i.e. ot Detroit) traditional major American city (i.e. not a sunbelt boomtown of the last 40 years) has 60% or more of its inhabitants living in houses, not apartments.

When we also note that Washington and and LA bring up the rear with 60% ad 62%, and that Boston with its prevelance of triplexes has just 38% in standard single family homes, we should not be surprised that the opinion making class, which is concentrated in NYC, BOS, DC, and LA is always perpetuating the myth of the apartment dwelling city inhabitant, when in fact this has no relationship at all to any American city outside their own place of dwelling.

Generally, speaking then, outside of Manhattan-Brooklyn-Bronx, LA, Boston, and DC, between 67% and 90% of city dwellers live in a home, not an apartment building. And these homes are in general indistinguishable from suburban detatched and "townhomes". What makes the cities different is not type of dwellings, but lot size.

The efficiency of American cities is from small lawns, not stacked dwellings.

Gus Snarp said...

OK, let's stop splitting hairs on apartments. Honestly, I don't even know what this census terminology mean singles, twins, triples, quads? The question is single family versus multifamily. What about high-rises? And what are the boundaries used here? City limits? Metropolitan areas? Even if it is city limits there is a difference between between cities in terms of the ability to annex surrounding communities. Ultimately I think that the point of all this cities are more efficient business is this: higher density living is more efficient, and the closer you are to the center of a city the higher the density. I live in a single family home, but it is much smaller than new homes built on the suburban/rural fringe and has a much smaller yard, thus more efficient. But if I lived in an apartment downtown I would be even more efficient (and wouldn't have to drive to work).

Gus Snarp said...

Richard - Just because sub-Saharan African nations don't always have free market systems themselves doesn't mean they haven't suffered from free market economics. Global trade is a fairly free market and at the global scale these areas have suffered from this free trade. I will concede that more free markets in their own countries might be beneficial, but free market nations are still exploiting sub-Saharan Africa for resource extraction and are perfectly content with any government and market system within the country, as long as it allows them to continue doing business at low costs.

Richard said...

Free-market countries are "exploiting" those African countries because their dictatoral, kleptocratic rulers allow them to.

S. Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore were once as desperately poor as sub-Saharan Africa (in 1950, both Ghana and Kenya had a higher per capita GDP than Taiwan or S. Korea), yet I don't hear a peep from you or anyone else about free-market countries exploiting the poor Koreans or Taiwanese.

Gus Snarp said...

South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore are also all very small countries with limited natural resources - and you are absolutely right, the government of a given country can make a huge difference in how that country does in the global market, but there is also no magic pill, not even free market democracy works for every country.

Anyway, my point (and I can barely remember it at this point) was that free markets have winners and losers, and the losers can lose in ways that are simply unacceptable to society. The point also was not how bad sub-Saharan Africa is now, but how much worse it may become as a result of the free market's inability to respond to incremental change before crisis conditions are reached.

Andrew said...

Gus Snarp:

Single family homes are exactly that and can be either attached or detached. Two family homes are stacked twins - the duplex. Triplexes and quads are large multi-story homes where each floor is rented out or owned seperately, or frequently a combination of the same (owner-landlord). Anyone familiar with Boston knows about triplexes.

The question is single family versus multifamily. What about high-rises?

The Census breaks down everything in gory detail. See Tables H30 and H33 of the SF3 data. Small apartment buildings (5 to 10 units) are seperate from larger ones. There is a seperate category for 20 to 50 and 50+ units per building, which I would take to be a standard highrises, as well as for people living in RV's, trailers, houseboats, etc.

So what about high rises? Here's percentages of units and people living in buildings with 20 or more units.

LA - 24% of units, 19% of people
SanFran - 23% of units, 15% of people
DC - 31% of units, 23% of people
Miami - 29% of units, 19% of people
Chicago - 23% of units, 14% of people
Balt - 10% of units, 6% of people
Boston - 22% of units, 15% of people
Minne - 23% of units, 15% of people
St. Paul - 19% of units, 12% of people
Brooklyn 34% of units, 30% of people
Queens - 30% of units, 25% of people
Cleve - 10% of units, 6% of people
Pitt - 12% of units, 7% of people
Philly - 11% of units, 7% of people
Seattle - 21% of units, 14% of people
Milwaukee - 13% of units, 7% of people

Compare to:

Bronx - 63% of units, 60% of people
Manhattan - 77% of units, 77% of people

Again, the contrast is stark.

Also, compare to a handful of typical suburban counties for large apartment numbers:

San Mateo County - 13% of units, 9% of people
Alameda County - 15% of units, 11% of people
Orange County - 13% of units, 11% of people
DuPage County (IL) - 11% of units, 7% of people
Middlesex (MA) - 11% of units, 7% of people
Norfolk (MA) - 12% of units, 7% of people
Montgomery County (MD) - 15% of units, 9% of people
Fairfax (VA) - 10% of units, 6% of people
Arlington County (VA) - 37% of units, 27% of people
Alexandria City (VA) 36% of units, 30% of people
Hudson County (NJ) - 22% of units, 17% of people
Nassau County (NY) - 7% of units, 5% of people
Westchester County (NY) - 22% of units, 16% of people
Camden County (NJ) - 9% of units, 5% of people
Montgomery County (PA) - 9% of units, 6% of people
Delaware County (PA) - 8% of units, 5% of people

Generally, these suburban areas fit right in the range of housing types of where we find most traditional American cities. What is different about suburbs is not houses vs. apartments, but density of units per acre.

The key to more efficient metropoli is densification of the suburbs, not forcing people out of houses and into apartments. In other words, develop the lawns!

And what are the boundaries used here? City limits? Metropolitan areas?

City limits.

Even if it is city limits there is a difference between between cities in terms of the ability to annex surrounding communities.

Irrelevant. I ignored these type of Sunbelt sprawl communities for that very reason. The list consists of traditional large American cities with long-time static bounadaries.

Andrew said...

Sorry, Andrew. The % of housing type by city is a fairly irrelevant number, because it does not account for the size of the housing unit, the density of the housing unit, the unit's proximity to other urban programs, etc. You have certainly proven that most people living i cities did not live in apartments, but it is far from the complete picture.

The point is that most cities concentrate their housing, no matter what TYPE of housing they are, with other urban programs such as shopping, parks, commerical/light industrial (as opposed to suburbia, which segregates urban programs to protect property values). For instance, when I first moved to Providence, RI, I lived in a multi-family house (the census would call it a triplex). The total square footage for three families was equal to the square footage of my boyhood suburban home in West Palm Beach, Florida. What's more, there was a grocery store on the corner, and I could walk a block to catch the bus, neither of which I could do in FL.

Maybe you should consider other relevant statistics? How about population densities:
http://www.demographia.com/db-ua2000dense.htm
Discussing typology is interesting, but doesn't make a cohesive argument alone (unless you just trying to disprove that most people in cities live in apartments, which obviously they don't).

Also, as a cavaet, census statistics are now almost 10 years old and about to become irrelevant.

Chachy said...

Re: "free markets" - they are a fantasy; no country has ever had an entirely free market economy, and every country that has successfully developed into a modern, industrialized society has employed some 'protectionist' policies to do so. That's not to say that trade liberalization can't be economically beneficial to a country under many circumstances; but 'true' free markets don't and never have existed, and they certainly aren't the one right path to development.

Richard said...

Actually, you do have periods of completely free markets and trade in history, but they don't last. Right now, only Hong Kong has absolutely free markets & trade; and they're an example that few independent countries can adopt.

In any case,
1. All systems have winners and losers; utopia just doesn't exist in the real world. The question is what type of system do you think would be an improvement on the status quo "Washington Consensus" welfare state political economy model that is what is referred to when people mention "free market democracy" (and which I would be the first to admit has flaws).

However, I'm not sure what you mean by "not even free market democracy works for every country". Do you mean that in some countries, the aforementioned system simply can not last and will be overthrown, or that there are actually better systems out there than democratic welfare state capitalism?

Gus Snarp said...

Richard - are there better systems? Well that's a good question, and one that many ideologues don't want asked. There probably aren't, but that doesn't mean that better systems can't be created.

Anyway, all I am trying to say is that there are some problems free markets can't fix, making regulation necessary.

When I said free market democracy doesn't always work, it was in the context of finding a magic pill to fix third world economic conditions. Some argue that by implementing free market reforms, third world countries will automatically rise to modern industrialized nation status (or at least get better economically). This is patently absurd. Free markets will not automatically correct economic problems in the third world. It may help sometimes, but it will not eliminate inequity. I didn't say anything else was better, I said there was no one answer.

The real original point, however, was that we need regulation to curb global warming because the free market will react too slowly and will not react to problems created in third world countries.

Chachy said...

Richard - that's a very ironic use of the term Washington Consensus...

This is really far too big a debate for a single comment thread on a blog about maps, but let me just make one point: Hong Kong does not have an absolutely free market. Not if they levy taxes; not if they build roads and provide other public infrastructure; not if their defense is secured by a national army; not if they have food and environmental regulations, etc. All of those things benefit the economy and private industry and all of them are supported by the government.

I make a point of this because I think a lot of times free marketeers tend to attribute economic success to the unburdened entrepreneurial spirit without acknowledging that no business could survive without the support that derives from public investments.

And as Gus S. points out, the salient point, which hopefully even the most Friedmanesque among us can acknowledge, is that free market ideology is simply insufficient to provide solutions to some of our greatest problems, including global warming and the tragedy of the commons type problems that characterize so many environmental issues. That's not to say that Adam Smith's intuition about the invisible hand wasn't elegant and useful for many contexts; but we need more than that.

Richard said...

Yeah, the thing about the tragedy of the commons is that it can be solved quite easily if people are willing to assign property rights to all the commons (and abide by them), so free market ideology takes care of that problem. It might sound reprehensible to you, but I can assure you that it would solve the global warming problem much sooner (cap&trade kind of does it, while the tragedy of the commons is really a tragedy of communism writ large; the way to deal with externalities is to make people or institutions own them).


BTW, I used the term "free market" not to mean anarchy (which is what many libertarians mean) but the welfare state capitalism that pretty much the entire first world practices (to varying degrees of welfare vs. capitalism) and what most people mean by "free market".

To get back to Gus: I note you said
"Some argue that by implementing free market reforms, third world countries will automatically rise to modern industrialized nation status (or at least get better economically). This is patently absurd.
to which my reply is, name one country that went down the path of free market democracy who's citizens would rather that they had not done so and chosen another path.

bruce said...

What's great is that Obama did not bow down to Republicans like Sessions who have tried to make this a chance to expand Nuclear Power.

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/energy/stories/senator-calls-for-100-new-reactors-in-20-years#comment-3158

Nuclear power could provide lots of energy, but the costs and the dangers are not worth it. That's why Obama shut down Yucca mountain. And as he said, no more nuclear power until the waste storage issue is solved. Without Yucca, it won't be solved for many many years.

The real solution here is reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency. Wind and solar are the solutions we need. Importantly the energy bill also excludes nuclear power from the 15% required "clean" energy that utilities must generate. Obama is a very intelligent man.

Good point about the uneven distribution of senators. It results in Republicans having far too much representation. Some kind of system which would give Democratic senators more representation in the senate would be great. Or just get rid of the senate and end jury-rigging in states like Texas.

bruce said...

Andrew: Precisely because laws and measures can have a disproportionate geographic impact is why there should be an institution like the US Senate, or like State Senates before Reynolds. Their purpose is to thwart the ability of one or two geographically small locales which happens to have a very large population from dominating the governance of a whole state, and dictating to people spread over a huge swath of land who have differing temperments, needs, and desires how they must order and live their lives.

You truly need to look at some history. What's so bad about certain geographic areas dominating government? The Roman empire and Republic had its nexus of power in the city of Rome, and it lasted seven hundred years, overseeing a time of great economic expansion and scientific advancement. Sorry, the evidence for geographic concentration of power being a "bad" thing isn't there, if anything, history refutes your point. It's time we become a real democracy.

Richard said...

Nuclear power will certainly be worth it at the rate we're going.
Even solar has the problem that solar panels as they are currently constructed use many different rare earths and minerals, which are not exactly plentiful (and who's mining and disposal are arguably more harmful than the materials used for nuclear power). I'm personally all for putting up windmills where ever we can harness that free energy, but then all those people who were all in favor of green energy seem not to care so much about the fate of the Earth when that would mean spoiling their view of Nantucket Sound.

Finally, increasing energy efficiency is a must, but I also take a dim view of those folks who call for reducing energy consumption; at these those folks who call for it who aren't willing to exchange their lifestyle with a Chinese or Indian subsistence farmer, because, all else being equal, reducing energy consumption will mean either those folks are stuck with their miserable existance, or the comfort level in the First World will have to go down dramatically to compensate for the increased energy usage and standard of living of the far numerous poor around the world.

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