Sunday, 25 September 2022

Killer Arguments against LVT, Not (494)

I don't know if we've done this one before, but: Carol Wilcox commented on a Facebook post in the Land Value Taxation Campaign group -

"it's not affordable for those with principal homes in locations where land values have soared. My friend's modest home in Kilburn, London, was valued a couple of years ago at £1.1m."

This strikes me as a variation of the Poor Widow Bogey, but I think it is true to say tha, if we had had LVT in place, the 1000% price increase wouldn't have happened in the first place.

Bigger, softer, faster!

I started again from scratch. 36" deck, 21" wheelbase, 8.5" trucks, 75mm wheels etc. Everything is about 20% - 25% bigger than the first one (on the left for comparison).

That was my first attempt at cutting out a deck. The basic surfboard shape is fine, but I messed up on the finer detail and I know it (the outline is a bit wobbly and the truck holes are slightly out of line). I've learned from my mistakes and have a second bit of marine ply for another try next week or whenever:

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Home-Owner-Ist understands economics - shock

From The Evening Standard:

But while home buyers may welcome a potential stamp duty cut, it could also lead to them paying bigger monthly mortgage bills, a finance expert has warned.

Sarah Coles, a senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said potential cuts to stamp duty may risk “doing more harm than good”. She said stimulating housing market demand could push house prices up further, at a time when the supply of available homes is already tight. Borrowers could then find themselves paying higher monthly mortgage costs if the price they have had to pay for their home has increased.

Correct. Reducing taxation on land and buildings mainly benefits the vendor, not the purchaser. I'm just surprised to see this reported in that bastion of Home-Owner-Ism - a huge chunk of their income is from property porn adverts, so they have to toe the line.

UPDATE: LF makes a good point in the comments. For movers who are buying and selling, SDLT is a bit of a slap in the face. Nonetheless, the overall effect is to depress headline house prices.

Monday, 19 September 2022

More circular logic from the Science Deniers

I submitted my simple explanation as to why Earth's average surface temperature is what it is* over on hard-core pseudo-scientific Alarmist website Science of Doom.
* Skip to next dashed line if you are familiar with this explanation, but here's the crash course:

A planet will settle at a temperature so that it is emitting as much LW radiation to space as it gets in SW radiation from its sun. On earth, only the cloud tops and the cloud free sea/land can directly absorb solar radiation coming IN (this is an agreed amount, 240 W/m2 average), and the self-same cloud tops and the cloud free sea/land surface have to emit the same amount of IR radiation directly OUT to space. Cloud tops and sea/land HAVE TO settle at the temperatures they are to maintain this balance.

There is a separate closed cycle that operates between clouds and the sea/land below them, which can be ignored when we look at LW going to space (yellow box in my third diagram in the first link). However this closed cycle works (it's heinously complicated), it will always be overridden by the fact that the temperature difference between sea/land and cloud tops is dictated by the lapse rate, which in turn is dictated by gravity; the specific heat capacity of the atmosphere; and the impact of the latent heat of evaporation (plus/minus a few other bits, like geo-thermal or electrical energy).

Imagine the lapse rate like the surface of a still reservoir. The water surface will be level. If you pump water from one end to another, it will not change the 'flatness'; the water will just sink back in the opposite direction and end up level again. Similarly, the atmosphere can 'pump' as much radiation energy down as it likes (cooling things higher up and warming the sea/land); an equal and opposite amount of energy will flow back up again to reinstate the fixed and known lapse rate (cooling the sea/land and warming things higher up).

Maybe the sea/land warms up the air above it by conduction/convection, which in turn warms the air above that, all the way up? Maybe there's more evaporation from the sea/land? Maybe the sea/land just reflect the radiation back up? Overall effect as measured by thermometers = net nothing.

And surely, it is only absolute temperatures that we care about, not the precise mechanism of how it happens?
On with the story.

The comments and replies are difficult to follow because of nesting of replies-to-replies and because they simply deleted some of my replies. They started off by just calling me a Climate Denier etc, but one commenter, Frank, humoured me. His first attempt was "Why do you assume that cloud emissivity is 0.7? The Climate Models assume 0.95 or 1.0?" I just looked this up from sources dating back to the 1970s, when scientists wanted to find out stuff with being prejudiced as to the answer. I put him straight with half a dozen references and his last response is this:

Mark: There are two energy balances you need to deal with: the energy balance across the TOA and the energy balance at the surface. The [Kiehl and Trembert] energy budget has both. The existence of DLR is only important to the surface energy balance. You can only “prove” DLR doesn’t exist or transfer heat to the surface by studying the energy balance AT THE SURFACE.

I never said that there wasn't any downwards longwave radiation. I just said that you can ignore it when estimating likely temperatures - see my level reservoir example.

Energy balance across the TOA is the simplest because you only need to deal with radiation, which in principle can be calculated given the known temperature and composition of the atmosphere.

This seems to be his tacit admission that my simple calculation is in fact correct.

Calculating the energy balance at the surface is more complicated, because you need to add convection of latent and simple heat and DLR to the energy fluxes arriving at the surface. You completely ignore latent and sensible heat, and therefore CAN’T DRAW ANY CONCLUSIONS ABOUT DLR!

'Energy balance' is in fact very easy because you don't need to worry about what type of energy it is. You can work out from sea/land upwards, layer by layer, how much total energy each layer has - mainly thermal energy (warmth), with significant amounts of potential energy (gravitational energy - which goes up with increasing altitude/falling temperature) and latent heat (which is highest immediately above the oceans and tails off as you go up when gaseous water vapour releases that energy again by condensing).

And you find that the total energy at all altitudes in the troposphere is exactly the same, which is what you'd expect, it's like entropy. Radiation is just one of many mechanisms that works towards that balance, making sure that the lapse rate is maintained, radiation energy itself is not conserved or stored and does not show up in the overall balance (don't confuse stocks with flows!).

(NB This energy balance does not hold in the stratosphere, where the sunshine warms things from above when ozone absorbs it (converts it to thermal energy), so total energy goes up with increasing altitude - up to the point where the air is too thin and there is no measurable ozone. The same as oceans, which are warmed by sunlight from the top down. Water is not a gas, so there is no lapse rate. Again, red herrings.)

So... he believes in some magically self-reinforcing one-way energy transfer system and ignores all the other effects that cancel it all out again. it's like believing in the sloping water surface on a reservoir -and that once you have got a slope, it will become ever steeper of its own accord and you can turn off the pumps. Sorry, not good enough and it's obviously nonsense. It's an answer desperately looking for a question.

Onwards, ever onwards!

Saturday, 17 September 2022

The Roman Warm Period

It is widely accepted by historians that there was a Roman Warm Period of a few centuries, straddling either side of AD 1. When it started to cool down, there were famines, unrest and wars for scarce (food) resources and the western Roman Empire in western Europe collapsed. The eastern Roman Empire aka. Byzantine Empire, being further east and south and a bit warmer struggled on for a few more centuries, but hey.

Then came the Dark Ages, when it was cooler and history is murkier, people were too busy fighting with each other or simply struggling to survive to leave much recorded history. Then was the Mediæval Warm Period, a time of exploration and expansion, formation of larger states (Vikings got as far as Greenland). The wheels fell off again in about AD 1300 when things cooled down (very quickly) and we had the Little Ice Age. Rinse and repeat, famines, unrest, wars etc, esp. in the 1600s.

The Little Ice Age ended in the mid-to-late 1800s, since when we have had the Modern Warm Period. There have been few weather-related famines, and certainly no global ones, for the past fifty years or more, apart from the fairly local ones caused by wars and/or incompetent or downright malevolent governments (which in turn lead to wars...). It's having plentiful food that we really care about. You can survive the cold if you are well-fed; warmth is no good to you if you are starving.

That's what history teaches us. No links because I assume that this is all widely accepted. Sorry for the Euro-centric view, but that's the history I learned. Chinese and Asian history, which is as well recorded as European history, seems to show a similar timeline of rises and falls of civilisations.

The Alarmists reveal themselves to be the true Climate Deniers and swear blind that temperatures remained unchanged for thousands of years until shooting up over past fifty or a hundred years (the Hockey Stick graph), with past temperatures being adjusted down and current temperatures adjusted up.

What is the point of this brief canter through history? The point is that the Alarmists now have the cheek, temerity and gall to use clear evidence of the Roman Warm Period as evidence that... there is sudden and unprecedented climate change:

From Reuters:

ZANFLEURON PATH, Switzerland, Sept 11 (Reuters) - A rocky Alpine path between two glaciers in Switzerland is emerging for what the local ski resort says is the first time in at least 2,000 years after the hottest European summer on record.

The ski resort of Glacier 3000 in western Switzerland said this year's ice melt was around three times the 10-year average, meaning bare rock can now be seen between the Scex Rouge and the Zanfleuron glaciers at an altitude of 2,800 metres and the pass will be completely exposed by the end of this month.

In other words, it's about as warm now as it was 'at least' 2,000 years ago. Which is not really Earth-shattering news, if you are prepared to learn from history. Whether the approx. 1,000 year warm/cool cycle since AD 1 is a coincidence or there is an underlying natural pattern, nobody knows. Records don't go much further back than that, although there is some ice-core evidence of a Minoan Warm Period about 1,000 years before the Roman Warm Period.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Killer Arguments Against Citizen's Income, Not.

I've had a change of heart on how to 'sell' a CI, to deflect the KCNs that it would be 'unaffordable' and/or discourage people from working.

Whether it's 'affordable' (i.e. costs no more than the current system) or not depends entirely on:

1. How many people receive it.
2. How much the weekly CI actually is.
3. What the clawback rate is for people with some income.

As to 1, instead of saying:
"Everybody is entitled to claim it. There will be an income-related clawback equal to basic rate tax plus NIC. Those earning more than a certain amount (let's say the current income tax/primary NIC-free allowance of £12,570 a year), will quickly realise that the cash CI is equal and opposite to the extra tax they pay, so won't bother claiming it and will just claim the personal allowance instead i.e. be completely unaffected". All this appears to be too complex for the mathematically challenged.

I shall just say "Everybody earning less than (say) the personal allowance is entitled to claim it. This will be clawed back via PAYE from those with some earned income to ensure that claimants do not gain an advantage relative to non-claimants with similar low incomes.".

That reduces the number of claimants down to most existing pensioners plus 'about' 10 million adults out of a working age population of 'about' 45 million.

As to 2. We know the weekly rate is going to be more than £0/week (a massive saving, if we consider state pension to be a type of CI). Sensibly, we would take existing spending on welfare and pensions payments, net of clawbacks and tax paid by likely claimants and, first keep state pension at current levels, then divide the rest equally between 'about'10 million working age claimants. The answer would be 'about' £100/week (for sake of argument, depends what you do with disability-related top-ups and Housing Benefit).

Clearly, under this approach, there would be no change to the apparent 'cost' of welfare and pensions.

As to 3. we can then touch on the KCN that "people wouldn't bother working" and the clawback rate.

For sure, there are a few adults who can manage on 'about' £100/week. Most can't and will still have to work if they want the finer things in life (and rightly so, CI is a "hand-up not a hammock"). At present, as a matter of fact, clawback rates (benefits withdrawn and tax/NIC paid) are between 70% and 100%. This is where Working Tax Credits fail miserably. It might be worth officially working 16 hours a week (how the Hell do you prove that one way or another?) to get that bit extra; there is no point then doing 17 hours because you would only keep £2 or £3 for the extra hour. This is an example of the 'benefits trap'.

We know there is a Laffer Curve for taxpayers - if tax rates are too high, it's not worth running a business or working more, once you earn some bare minimum. So there is an optimum tax rate where the government can maximise tax revenues (we are at or past this point, as it happens). The same goes for welfare clawback rates - if the government wants to claw back the maximum total cash from claiamnts, it sets the rate not too low (not much clawed back and 'unfair' advantage for claimants vs non-claiming lower earners) and not too high (discourages working - not much clawed back either).

We also know that the CI clawback rate has to be set at such a rate that people working a small number of hours don't end up with more net income than people working more hours.

Taking all this into account, the optimum clawback rate is somewhere in the region of 30% to 40% (minimm wage earners keep £6 or £7 for every hour worked i.e. two or three times as much as now), which is, happily enough, the same as basic rate tax/NIC (depending on whether you include Employer's secondary NIC or not). So there is no need for a parallel means-testing/clawback system, we just give claimants BR codes for PAYE! And the work incentive has doubled or trebled at the stroke of a pen - and it's not just the extra bit of CI clawed back, their employers will also be making more profit and paying more tax!

* The German 'liberal' FPD party, which is socially AND economically liberal, unlike its UK sister party which is just soft-socialist, had exactly these proposals in its 2021 manifesto, the FDP are part of the ruling Coalition, and it seems not unlikely that this will be actually implemented next year (fingers crossed). I happened to see this in the ZDF evening news yesterday, which I watch occasionally for old time's sake.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

It's green, not red, white and blue.

This article fleshes out the suspicion I had that the whole gas crisis has far more to do with an unholy alliance between Greenies and energy speculators than it has to do with Russia. As can be seen, in every case of discontinued supply, it was the West who discontinued it, not Russia, as is evidenced by Germany's continued refusal to activate Nordstream 2. It looks ike high gas prices are here to stay, there are a lot of middlemen who need to be kept in private jets and luxury yachts.

Killer arguments against Citizens' Income, Not

I came across a link to Europe's New Social Reality: The Case Against Universal Basic Income and thought to check which killer arguments the author was using. They turned out to be three:

1. Public support for higher spending,
2. Deservingness and the welfare state,
3. Social norms around work.

KCN No 1 is easily dealt with. No evidence is given that higher taxation would be necessary, apart from an unevidenced claim that CI would cost £34Bn (Hirsch (2015)estimates that even by abolishing most existing benefits, an extra £34 billion would need to beraised each year.). There is no suggestion that CI could be implemented by removing the tax-free amount from claimants, for instance.

KCN No 2 is dealt with in the same way. Sure, the sight of the titled lady in her Rolls-Royce pulling up to the Post Office to claim the Child Benefit for her children was not a popular one, however, if CI is made conditional on the removal of the tax-free amount, then rich people would not be claiming it, they would have the tax-free amount instead.

KCN No 3 is the classic right wing argument that if you give poor people money, they won't work, completely ignoring the fact that it is abundantly obvious that this doesn't happen with rich people, who, whilst in receipt of more money that they know what to do with, still put in long hours.

In fact, from the short amount of time I spent reading the paper (I wasn't going to spend an estimated 78 minutes of my life reading the whole thing), it appears that it should really be titled, The Case for Universal Basic Income.

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Which maniac agreed to this?

From the BBC:

The government plans to move nuclear and renewable electricity generators to lower price contracts to cut bills, Prime Minister Liz Truss has said.

"Renewable and nuclear generators will move on to contracts for difference, to end the situation where electricity prices are set by the marginal price of gas," Truss told Parliament.

The price paid to these companies is often set by the most costly generator. That is currently hugely expensive gas...

I thought the govt sold off the National Grid in 1995, so why they are now getting involved escapes me.

And why anybody - government or private - would sign up to such terms is a mystery to me. What's wrong with just setting a price of Xp per MWh (which will of course vary by time of day and seasons of the year) and buying from anybody willing to sell at that price? If that means paying France for their spare nuclear, so what?

Somebody who does these calculations for the National Grid once tried to explain it to me and had my head spinning. I am aware that we - as a society - want to have some slack or over-capacity in the system (electricity being as fundamental as it is; we could go a few days without mains gas, rubbish collection or the NHS, but not without leccy), so we have to pay generators simply for having things on stand-by. And we need a mix for security - renewables vs fossil vs nuclear; and domestic vs imported equipment and fuel, so better to err on the side of renewable/domestic, even if that means slightly higher prices (quite how much higher is a judgement call).

At least it explains why domestic prices for electricity went up so much. I thought - wrongly as it turns out - that the National Grid would simply buy much less electricity from the high-cost generators (using gas) until they have sorted themselves out and more from other sources.

Friday, 9 September 2022

Nobody move or the puppy gets it!


It's a grim time in the fun business. In Southend-on-Sea, the owner of Sealife says he may have to euthanise animals in his "zooquarium" because the annual cost of electricity has tripled from £240,000 to three quarters of a million pounds.

Philip Miller says keeping animals including monkeys, meerkats and tropical fish through the winter would be too costly, if the attraction was closed to save money.

"All these animals have to keep warm - or cold - or a combination of both*, and it's on 24/7, seven days a week. And they have to be fed, so it's a massive bill to maintain. They'll all have to euthanised or we find other homes but all the other zoos are going to be in the same boat, I'd imagine," Mr Miller said.

* I'm not sure what a "combination of being kept warm and cold" is in practice, but I hope he can sort something out.