Monopoly, Monopsony, Oligopoly, Collusion

First off, realize that I’m going to be talking about economics here, and using economics jargon. Aside from just being dreadfully dull to many folks, it is also prone to having specific definitions (“terms of art”) that can be a bit different from the common usage. I’ll try to assure that definitions are clear, while also trying to stay clear of becoming an economics dictionary.

To give just one example at the start, generally speaking folks use the word Monopoly to mean Oligopoly or even Monopolistic Competition. What is the difference? Well, in monopoly there is only ONE provider of a given good or service. In Oligopoly there are a few providers that can easily coordinate. In monopolistic competition there are several (or more) providers who act in a way that has monopoly power expression, while still being in technical competition. Often this involves some kind of implicit or explicit coordination, i.e. collusion to abuse the customer. So calling AT&T a “monopoly” isn’t correct.

Even when they were the only telephone company in the USA, they were a monopoly in telephones, but not in communications in general. So use of the term “monopoly” can require stating “in what” as well as “when”. But common use is to blur the lines with “local monopoly” and similar specifics.

With that, some definitions.

From the dictionary link:

Monopoly:

A market in which only one firm produces all the output. A monopolist is a single seller, protected by high entry barriers, producing a unique product with the ability to set the price and level of output based on its own profit-maximizing decisions.

Key points: Exactly and only ONE firm making 100% of the product (used here to mean product or service unless stated otherwise) AND protected by high “entry barriers”. A monopoly can set profit and price to maximize their own gain.

So, for a counter example, I am the only “Me” in the marketplace, so a unique provider of “me”; but am I a monopoly? I can try to raise my billing rate by touting my uniqueness, but the reality is that there are millions of computer literate service providers in my field. I am not the ONLY provider and produce only a tiny fraction of the global systems admin and project management product. My product is not unique. Further, there are very low barriers to entry. Anyone can learn the skills and enter the market. Finally, I cannot set prices nor level of output to maximize my profit. On every part of the definition, I am found to NOT be a Monopoly, even though I’m the only “me”.

Monopolistic Competition:

Monopolistic Competition A market in which a relatively large number of firms competes with one another by differentiating their products from the competition. Economic profits can be earned in the short-run through successful product differentiation, but due to the low barriers to entry they are unlikely in the long-run. Monopolistic competition is the most common market structure, and included restaurants, automobiles, clothes, salons, etc…

So, one could claim that you can only buy a Tesla from Tesla, so they have a monopoly on their brand and on high performance electric cars; yet that would not be true. They are in fact in a monopolistic competition mode with lots of advertizing (and “virtue signaling”) trying to differentiate themselves from the other competitors in the transportation appliance business. To the extent they succeed, they can claim a little bit more of the profit and pricing advantage that flows to a real monopoly. Much marketing budget is spent on creating the belief in uniqueness of the product and “product differentiation”.

Typically governments grant various kinds of protection to things used in monopolistic competition; such as trademarks, copyrights, patents, and similar guarantees of uniqueness in product or reputation. The goal being to promote thriving businesses while giving consumers the information (and reliable branding) to make informed decisions.

Oligopoly:

A market in which a relatively small number of firms compete with one another in a strategic manner. Characterized by a strong interdependence between the small number of firms. Barriers to entry are high and firms are hesitant to change their prices due to the fact that price wars may result when prices are lowered, and significant market share can be lost if prices are raised. Such markets tend to be highly inefficient due to the lack of competition.

The typical end stage for mature industries is after a “roll up” of the minor competitors into a few survivors. These often try to work together to increase profits at the expense of the customers. This can be illegal (collusion) or legal (cartels / trusts) depending on various national laws.

For example, OPEC is the oil cartel. It would be illegal to form that cartel in the USA, but it is legal in the nation of origin. During the steel heyday in the USA, the form of “collusion” moved to what is called “price leadership”. U.S. Steel was known to be the big player, so they would raise prices a little. Then, one by one, the other players would raise prices. Nobody sent letters or had meetings where they agreed to collude, so prosecution for collusion was difficult. (This was later weakened when Brazilian, Japanese, and now Chinese steel started to enter the USA in volume. Then the US producers moved to lobby congress to prevent “dumping” … and protect their price leadership based profits…)

Thanks to US Anti-monopoly (anti-trust) laws, most industries here, now, end in an Oligopoly, not a true monopoly. You can see this game playing out as both the USA and EU have government bodies set up to regulate the degree to which one company can buy up all the competition. IMHO, it isn’t nearly as effective as it ought to be, but it is what we have. Today, media companies and drug companies (pharmacies) are in roll-up mode. Goldman Sachs has a large department for “Mergers and Acquisitions” as they make huge fees from it. There are $Billions spent to try to bypass restrictions and increase “concentration” first into an Oligopoly and then as close to Monopoly as the industry can reach without government intervention. The fewer the players, the greater the monopoly excess profits can be made by screwing over suppliers, the retail chain, and the end customer.

Which leads us to Monopsony.

That intro to econ dictionary oddly ommits this one, so we’re going to:
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/monopsony.asp

for a definition:

A monopsony, sometimes referred to as a buyer’s monopoly, is a market condition similar to a monopoly except that a large buyer, not a seller, controls a large proportion of the market and drives prices down.

A monopsony occurs when a single firm has market power in employing its factors of production. It acts as a sole purchaser for multiple sellers, driving down the price of seller inputs through the amount of quantity that it demands.

Very large monopoly producers often try to also act as monopsony buyers of their inputs. This will sometimes lead to “vertical integration” as they drive a supply to poverty then buy up the assets. Sometimes it simply results in the destruction of suppliers or the reduction of their profits to “survival level”.

A decade or three back, the “Big Three” auto makers went the other way. They spun out their parts making subsidiaries. Why do that? So that they could avoid the union costs in those parts makers, and since they would have a monopsony relationship to them (who but GM will be buying GM alternators in bulk?) could assure the profits were concentrated in the parent company. Watching for monopoly and monopsony strategies explains much of the M&A business.

Sears was, at one time, notorious for this. They would pick someone to supply, say, washing machines. They would make ever larger buys until the company had 50% or even more of their production dedicated to Sears. Sears would threaten to cut orders if the company could not supply the whole amount ( i.e. make sure they were bound only to Sears and had dropped other customers in favor of Sears) then, when the supplier production was essentially captured, they would demand a very very low price. The supplier now faced bankruptcy due to a sudden loss of the majority of their sales, or survival, but at very low profitability (or potentially no profit). I don’t know their present status.

Similarly, a large coal mine in a “one mine town” is the monopsony buyer of miners in that region. Thus all the history of “company stores” and related abuses of miners. Oddly, the “fix” was to form labor unions for miners so that they had some local monopoly power to offset that monopsony abuse.

For some reason, the general populace don’t pay much attention to Monopsony, but it is joined at the hip with Monopoly and Oligopoly power and policies.

Monopoly Practices

There are certain things Monopolies, Oligopolies and even Monopolistic Competition try to do that are in fact very bad for the customer and the market structure in general. These are called “Monopoly Practices”. The exact set of things that can be stuffed into that definition can vary by nation, and as folks are creative, more get dreamed up from time to time. I’m going to point the set in the USA (bolding done by me):

https://www.justice.gov/atr/antitrust-laws-and-you

Antitrust Laws And You

Many consumers have never heard of antitrust laws, but enforcement of these laws saves consumers millions and even billions of dollars a year. The Federal Government enforces three major Federal antitrust laws, and most states also have their own. Essentially, these laws prohibit business practices that unreasonably deprive consumers of the benefits of competition, resulting in higher prices for products and services.

The three major Federal antitrust laws are:

The Sherman Antitrust Act
The Clayton Act
The Federal Trade Commission Act.

The following information on these laws comes from the Antitrust Enforcement and the Consumer guide.

The Sherman Antitrust Act

This Act outlaws all contracts, combinations, and conspiracies that unreasonably restrain interstate and foreign trade. This includes agreements among competitors to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate customers, which are punishable as criminal felonies.

The Sherman Act also makes it a crime to monopolize any part of interstate commerce. An unlawful monopoly exists when one firm controls the market for a product or service, and it has obtained that market power, not because its product or service is superior to others, but by suppressing competition with anticompetitive conduct.

The Act, however, is not violated simply when one firm’s vigorous competition and lower prices take sales from its less efficient competitors; in that case, competition is working properly.

The Clayton Act

This Act is a civil statute (carrying no criminal penalties) that prohibits mergers or acquisitions that are likely to lessen competition. Under this Act, the Government challenges those mergers that are likely to increase prices to consumers. All persons considering a merger or acquisition above a certain size must notify both the Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission. The Act also prohibits other business practices that may harm competition under certain circumstances.

The Federal Trade Commission Act

This Act prohibits unfair methods of competition in interstate commerce, but carries no criminal penalties. It also created the Federal Trade Commission to police violations of the Act.

Related Offenses

The Antitrust Division also often uses other laws to fight illegal activities that arise from conduct accompanying antitrust violations or that otherwise impact the competitive process, as well as offenses that involve the integrity of an antitrust or related investigation, including laws that prohibit false statements to Federal agencies, perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracies to defraud the United States and mail and wire fraud. Each of these crimes carries its own fine and imprisonment term, which may be added to the fines and imprisonment terms for antitrust law violations.

Read more about the activities of the Antitrust Division:

Antitrust Enforcement and the Consumer

Price Fixing, Bid Rigging and Market Allocation Schemes: What They Are and What to Look For

Antitrust Division Manual, Chapter 2: Statutory Provisions and Guidelines of the Antitrust Division.

The general idea being that it’s important not to allow companies to screw over the customer too badly. Enough to become filthy rich is OK, but not so much you drive everyone else into poverty… Also various kinds of lying, destruction of competitors and similar actions are also frowned on. It is OK to BE a monopoly, provided you get there by superior product and pricing, but NOT via abusive practices toward the competition or the customer.

Also note the emphasis in the law is on prices. In reality, cheapening the product, reducing choice, and having lousy service are just as bad, but rarely a legal consideration.

So why are Monopoly Practices bad?

Well, first off, we have a long history of what results. “Fattest Wallet Wins”. Then prices rise to astounding levels, Evil Bastard Policies are put in place to vindictively crush others. It turns into an economic war that is far more destructive than good. We have lots of colorful history around this that I won’t go into here. Standard Oil was one such. In one case had a railroad refuse to carry competitor products and even refused to let a pipeline cross under their tracks. (The competitor had to unload oil from the pipeline, load trucks, cross the tracks, unload oil into the pipeline, repeat… that does not help the customer nor the general economy).

Since ONE of the ways a very large company gains advantage is just by being large (since they get “financial economies of scale” – i.e. the banker loans money at a cheaper rate – ask BofA to give you a loan at prime… ) and another is purchasing power (think YOU will get the same prices on toys as a small retailer in Germany as Amazon gets?) the eventual end game is that ONE company will survive and they will own everything. If that’s what you want, go ahead and abolish anti-trust laws… We see this happening now with Amazon and “big box retail”. (They have already crushed a lot of small retail). Amazon gets financing and purchase price breaks nobody else can match. They have now moved into data centers (AWS) and entertainment (Amazon Prime) from retail. Eventually the anti-trust folks may wake up…

More personally: About 25 years? ago Home Depot came to San Jose. At the time we had a few local hardware stores, a great lumber company (Southern Lumber) and Home Base. Home Depot offered LOTS of very low prices on things and positioned their new stores conveniently on major streets (often not too far from Home Base or Osh…) Now, years later, Home Base is gone, OSH was bought by Sears and turned into a remote Sears Tool Department, and several of the smaller players are out of business. Southern Lumber is gone. Now, Home Depot does NOT have those wonderfully low prices, they have moved to “new locations” harder to get too (but cheaper for them) and product selection is reduced. (Southern Lumber had a great section of exotic and hard to find woods, for example, along with better selection of plywood grades). What had been “great low prices and service” is now not so great prices or service, less choice, and far fewer options on where to shop. THAT is why “monopoly practices” are bad. That “predatory pricing” to drive out the competition (knowing they could fund it from higher prices in their out of area locations) is specifically called out as illegal, but rarely enforced. Though there is hope. In the last couple of years Lowe’s has started to move into the area, so we may see some competition again; or maybe just price-leadership collusion.

Essentially, there are two major problems with leaving monopoly practices in play.
1) Prices can be driven low to kill off every other provider, then jacked high to soak the customers.
2) Eventually only one “Fattest Wallet” will own everything and you will be bowing to the monarch.

In fact, monopoly practices and monarchy have a long history together.

https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Monopolistic_practices

“The history of patents does not begin with inventions, but rather with royal grants by Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) for monopoly privileges … Approximately 200 years after the end of Elizabeth’s reign, however, a patent represents a legal [right] obtained by an inventor providing for exclusive control over the production and sale of his mechanical or scientific invention … [demonstrating] the evolution of patents from royal prerogative to common-law doctrine.”

It was the major reason the European Monarchies didn’t like America. We ignored their dictates about who could own toll bridges, coal stations and tax posts, and other monopoly revenue generators for the crown. No “royal license” needed here… The Europeans have generally been more accepting of rank, privilege, monopoly / cartel practices, and the crushing of the poor by the aristocracy; than have the Americans. In the last century that’s tended to change, but it still is not equal. (Both the USA and EU have moved closer to a central position, as the USA has had ‘regulatory capture’ and enforced anti-trust less and the EU has started to realize the benefits of competitive markets).

Sidebar on Socialism:

In general, Classical Socialism (International Socialism, i.e. USSR and similar) has only one provider of all things, and that is The State. It is both Monopoly and Monopsony for production and labor. Needless to say, it has not worked out all that well for The Little Guy in those systems. It tends to end up acting like a Dictatorial Bureaucracy, or a “Monarchy” with a politburo “electing” the monarch… Product quality drops, prices rise, and availability is restricted. Pretty much like all monopolies over time.

The Firm:

But the individual firm has a great interest in finding ways to get some kind of monopoly practices and pricing power in place. There’s an entire body of micro-economics devoted to pricing theory and ways to manipulate the customer such that you get closer to monopoly price optimization but without getting in trouble with the Feds. Here’s one:

Think “Senior Discounts” are because the company loves old folks? Um, nope. See, it’s illegal for me to look at you and say “You look like a 30 something with a good suit and lots of money, I’m going to charge you double”. BUT, it’s accepted to “give a discount”. So you price the basic product for as close to the high end of the market as you can get, then offer “discounts” to cream off the rest of the market segments. Student Discount. Senior Discount. etc. etc. Just ways to get price discrimination in place without the US Government and lawsuits…

http://wps.prenhall.com/ca_ph_eaton_microecon_6/22/5851/1498067.cw/index.html

Chapter Summary

In considering the monopolist’s response to the “unimaginative” monopoly solution, we analyzed the more sophisticated strategies of price discrimination that are based on the monopolist’s ability to segment its market. Two types of such market segmentation are common: direct identification (as in various discounts for senior citizens and students) and self-selection (as in different fares for airline tickets).

We considered three types of price discrimination: perfect price discrimination, ordinary price discrimination, and multipart pricing. Perfect price discrimination, in which the monopolist successfully extracts the maximum possible profit from each customer, is not something we expect to see in the real world very often; however, this ideal case does let us see just how strong a monopolist’s incentive to devise clever pricing strategies can be. Ordinary price discrimination, in which the monopolist identifies potential customers by groups and charges each group a separate price, is something we encounter almost every day of our lives, and it can take very subtle forms. Multipart pricing, in which the monopolist charges different rates for different amounts, or “blocks,” of a good or service, is more profitable than ordinary price discrimination, but, because it requires the monopolist to monitor the customer’s consumption, it is not as common as ordinary price discrimination.

In addition to these forms of price discrimination, monopolist firms can extract consumer’s surplus in a number of other ways. Two-part tariffs, where the firm charges an entry fee for the privilege of purchasing its product is one example. As was shown, the optimal strategy is for the firm to set the price of its good at the marginal cost and then charge the entire surplus as an entry fee. The problem with this type of pricing is that as consumer’s tastes for the product start to vary, the low-demand types become unwilling to purchase the entry fee.

Another type of pricing mechanism is the tie-in sale. Here a firm requires the purchasers of its product to also purchase another product at a price above marginal costs. The problem with this form of pricing is that it creates a deadweight loss, as the revenue captured from the tie-in sale does not match the full loss of surplus to the consumer. We argued that the tie-in sales model explained why popcorn was so expensive at the movies. Finally, we looked at the case of all-or-nothing pricing, in which the firm again tries to extract the full surplus. This form of pricing seems to explain a number of observations of individual behaviour.

These pricing strategies are not the only ones that monopolists can and do use to avoid the trap of charging only one price. We present these only to provide you with a sample, and to whet your appetite for further study in the field of industrial organization.

Yes, it is a constant war between the Fat Wallets trying to get as much price discrimination and monopoly pricing as possible, and the consumer / government trying to prevent the abuses of the customer. Now consider that the roll back of “Net Neutrality” rules (be it real net neutrality or whatever Obama pushed) has a specific intent of allowing differential price discrimination based on packet origin, content, and related. Think that is because AT&T is soooo suffering from the competition, or because they want price discrimination to drive Netflix out of the competition and jack up your rates? (Hint: It is NOT because the internet stopped working due to net neutrality rules…)

Sadly, lately the failures have been greater than the successes. Where we used to have a dozen different car sellers on the local “Auto Row”, they are now mostly DGDG owned. A “local monopoly”. Think I can play off the VW dealer vs the next door Ford dealer when they both report to the same guy? Similarly theatre popcorn at $5 a box and hotdogs (that are so bad I can’t stand to eat them anymore) at $5 at the movie. Yes, this has “priced me out of the movies” as I just don’t see the value proposition anymore, yet if they are working as a good monopolist, they have figured the ideal price to soak their remaining customers enough to make up for losing me. Besides, next year I get a “senior discount”… but that won’t make the hotdog edible… In short, the Feds have been ignoring local / State level monopoly practices for a few decades now.

The inevitable end game is worse products, less selection, higher prices, and a “if you don’t like it you can go buy from my other store” attitude… Everybody loses but the one Big Fattest Wallet. IF that is the world in which you wish to live, then by all means allow monopoly practices. Again, this is NOT a hypothetical argument. The anti-trust laws were created after living that particular experience a few too many times.

In Conclusion

This is just the start of the topic of Monopolies and related. A single broad brush exposure. I hope to post more on it shortly, but we’ll see what time allows.

Monopoly Power eventually leads to ONE single dominant Evil Bastard willing to crush any competition. This can manifest as a Monarchy as it did in much of Europe (though generally not classed as economic monopoly overall) or it can end in International Socialism (as has been attempted several times, though generally considered a political topic not economic monopoly). The kinds and ways of trying to fight that off to gain freedom and economic independence have been many, and some of them worked well enough to get free market republics. But the urge to monopoly never ends.

In the USA we had the Robber Barron era (as opposed to the real peerage Barons who robbed in different ways, by law) that eventually resulted in the various anti-trust laws. Now, much of the battle has moved to Congress and Courts as the various Evil Bastards try to regain more of that Monopoly Power and Pricing Power and do roll-ups and crush any competition and screw over the customer at the optimal rate. D.C. is awash in Lobbyists and they bring big buckets of Fat Wallet $$$ to the “problem”. In theory, the vote of “the little guy” is supposed to keep the political animals in check, but the Parties have assured that it is no longer a functioning lever (most of the time…) and any attempt to slow the flow of money from consumer pockets to lobbyist “donations” will not be tolerated.

Have I mentioned lately that Economics is called “The Dismal Science” for a reason?

It gets more dismal as you enter the area of Political Economy…

The simple fact is that the Very Rich can invest 90%+ of their money as it is impossible for them to spend it all on personal consumption. The average folks must spend nearly (or sometimes over…) 100%, so can never enter the Fattest Wallet game. The only thing preventing a runaway Fattest Wallet winner, even if from nothing more than starting with the biggest wallet, is the anti-trust laws and prevention of Monopoly Power Abuses. The large firms can easily destroy the small firms in an area. A “price war” with the independent gas station on one corner and the Standard Oil station on the other inevitably ends with only one Standard Oil station and much higher prices. (That was a standard Standard Oil tactic, BTW, to drive out competition and jack up prices).

Pure capitalism, completely unfettered, ends in disaster for everyone but the extremely rich aristocracy who can buy the government. This is historical fact (and still seen in various histories of Banana Republics around the world). That is the reason we created anti-trust laws, competitive industry standards, price fixing bans, etc. etc. That is why the USA moved to a “mixed economy” with some degree of economic regulation. Regulation must exist to prevent the abusive practices or we will all be slaves to the winner.

Oddly, the proposed “fix” of International Socialism / Communism claims to work by making the State the Fattest Wallet Monopolist / Monopsonist. Yet it is obvious that isn’t going to change the nature of the Evil Bastards who rise to the top of major political organizations (be they Corporations or Nations). It has tended to the same problems (product quality drops, scarcity increases, choice reduces, and prices rise) in some cases to even greater degrees.

The real answer is to promote COMPETITIVE market capitalism, but as capitalism is unstable “to the large size” (due to fundamental “propensity to invest” with being rich, financial economies of scale, and purchasing economies of scale; even in the absence of any particular product production economies of scale such as giant steel blast furnaces) it takes positive external corrective pressures to prevent a runaway Fattest Wallet Wins condition. Finding that ideal balance point of reasonable regulation vs market freedom vs buying government power & excesses; has not been easy nor particularly well done. It tends to run in multi-decade cycles. Too little regulation in the early 1800s to about 1920, too much until about 1950 (though complicated by war issues), then back to too little somewhere between then and now as the regulatory agencies were “captured” by lobbyist pressures and politician buying. (Monsanto basically owns the ag regulators and Goldman Sachs the dept of Finance…IMHO)

Do I have a solution?

Not really. I can admire the problem… but the basic problem is the fundamental nature of aggressive ambitious greedy people who are best at rising to power in hierarchical organizations. They tend to a socio/psycho-pathic nature and they really don’t give a damn about hurting others. So it doesn’t matter if control is given to corporations, The State via socialism, Monarchs, or to the Republic. Corruption will happen as they rise to the top of any of the systems, and pervert them for personal gain.

So far it seems the best we can do is to give them free run in Corporations, in competition with each other as that keeps the worst in check, and using Government as the referee to keep the competition clean and fair (via things like anti-trust laws, FCC, FTC, etc.) When one Fattest Wallet Without Conscience comes to dominate a sector, assure some competition survives to keep the game in play and prices fair. The problem is when the players start to buy the League and the Referees…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

206 Responses to Monopoly, Monopsony, Oligopoly, Collusion

  1. philjourdan says:

    I am a bit surprised you used Sears instead of Walmart as the Monopsony example. Sears is a good one, but before the time of most around today. Walmart did it very recently – and still are to a degree. Amazon is kind of putting a crimp in their plans.

    Here is one way they do it (and most big boys do it). The Lowest price guarantee. Who has not seen that? But check out the model number of what they are putting those on. Walmart is the only seller of those models. Period. It may be a 45″ Smart LED TV from Samsung which everyone carries, but the model Walmart sells is different from the model that Target (or Sears, etc.) sells. So Walmart has the lowest price on THAT model and does not have to worry about meeting any competitors prices.

    The problem with the Home Depot example however is that regional monopolies like theirs are not long lived. Home Depot does have large competitors, and they will see the opportunity and move in. And that will kill Home Depot. But short term, you are stuck with it (we have 2 outfits here, so we have not seen the price jacked up yet).

    Most Monopolies are created by Government. And they survive only because of Government. When Government restricts entry into a market, usually through regulations that small companies cannot cover and maintain price competitiveness, they perpetuate monopolies. Of course when they enact those regulations, the expressed purpose is not to kill competition,as government never says what they mean.

  2. Lionell Griffith says:

    EM,

    You give the standard story which devolves into the following. By going into business and selling to customers (not the public), your right to your life, your work product, and paid for property are thereby restricted to whatever the unelected DOJ decides it is to be. This is NOT Capitalism. It is Fascism pure and simple. You have all the risk, you have a non-functional title, and the government sets the terms and conditions under which you work.

    In Capitalism, the government ONLY prosecutes initiation of force or fraud. Then only under the strict directions of objective law. All trade must be VOLUNTARY among willing buyers and sellers with no force one on the other. All without the third party of government putting its thumb on the scales by choosing winners and losers. Anything else is NOT capitalism and not fit for a free people.

    Fundamentally no individual has the right to an undeniable claim on another’s life or life’s product. This goes both ways! If you are a potential customer and don’t like the terms of sale, you have a choice of do without, pay up, or start your own business. If you can’t pay up or start your own business, your only choice is go elsewhere or do without. You don’t have the moral right to use the power of government to force the terms to be acceptable to you. Ditto for the producer to force a potential customer to buy from him.

    It really is quite simple, without the producer the customer has nothing to buy. Yet, the producer produces to sell to paying customers. The interesting thing is that to be able to buy, the customer has to be a producer too. So also the producer has to be a customer. Their interests are aligned if neither demands the unearned or unpaid for. The problem arises when one party expects, demands, and goes to the government to force a free lunch to be served.

    The rest of you so called theory is as phony as a con man. I have little interest in discussing the issues from that perspective.

  3. cdquarles says:

    Neglected in your article, EM, but the point that Lionell gets, is that as long as we are free (minimum government) there is always competition in the market. Competitors come and go; but competition cannot be eliminated as long as We the People are free to make, buy, sell or do without; *anything*; and be able to let anyone and everyone know “who, what, when, why, and how” they’re doing.

  4. Here in France, I have Orange (otherwise known as France Telecom) as my ISP. When the cost per month was around 40 euros I tried to change to one that was half the price. All seemed to go well until they tried to actually take the line over, and they said they couldn’t since it was not allowed under the rules. Getting the same service in Germany is only 10 euros per month, but of course they aren’t allowed to sell in France. I have to rent the router/modem (can’t buy the one they specify), even though I do have one that will work on ADSL2 quite happily. That has VOIP on it which charges mobile rates for someone dialling in here, though phoning out on that line is free to 100 or so countries. The SIP parameters are not made public. I also have a VOIP box, and every so often it just stops working and I need to change the ports it works on in order to get it running again – happened a lot a few years back, and I figure they were blocking that port to stop me using it. It’s been running on the same ports now for around a year, so maybe they’ve given up for the moment.

    With extra competitors in the market here, the price has gone down a bit (now around 32 euros a month), but those competitors are no use to me since they can’t get control of the lines that lead to me. That means Orange can charge me half as much again as their French competitors (and three times the amount the German ISPs would charge me) because the have that monopoly. I have the choice of either paying the fees or not using the internet.

    For a lot of people in this current financial climate, they have a choice of either accepting low wages or not eating. If they don’t want the job, there are a lot of hungry people that will. If they want to buy food, they have to pay the going rate, and they have a choice of buying or not buying. Where there’s a choice of only one real supplier, the options are somewhat limited.

    Of course people try to buy goods or labour as cheap as they can, and sell it for the maximum they can get. The more-ruthless people (who tend to rise to the top of the pile because of that) will use any method they can get away with to minimise the costs and increase the profits. I used to know a guy who, when he wanted to buy a car from some private seller, sent someone else first to tell the seller how bad it was and wasn’t worth the money, so when he turned up and offered less than the car was worth the seller was happy to sell it. What we’d see as sharp practices, though legal (and as it happened the guy was honest in settling bills and also kept his word).

    Getting the system right so that the would-be monopolists have real competition and the natural monopolies have enough regulation seems a tricky balance. It goes against human nature, which is trying to get the best profits for your work. If there are a small set of companies that make the same thing, and they all set their prices in a clandestine meeting so they make a large profit, it’s hard to stop unless you get inside information. Accountants are pretty good at hiding profits when required, and also in making sure that such profits that there are are registered in a low-tax haven.

    The old rallying cry was “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay”. Sounds good. Problem is that different people have different ideas of what’s fair. Back in the 60s/70s when that was the political call, a fair day’s work was 10 hours down the pit mining coal and the fair day’s pay meant that a man could just about feed his family and have a week in a caravan in Skegness every year.

    It seems throughout history there have been groups who have exercised some sort of monopoly. I doubt if we can wish it away. Maybe when we can all generate our own power, produce our own water and farm our own food (and have our own lethal force to protect it) then the ability to monopolise will go away. This sort of capability will need to be finessed in, though. Back in the Middle Ages it was a hanging offence to own your own quirm for grinding flour (you had to take your grain to the mill who would tax some of it away) – people with power don’t like letting it go.

  5. Serioso says:

    This post of yours is the reason I continue to pay attention to your blog, despite your many failings and misperceptions and stupidities. Wonderful job!

  6. gallopingcamel says:

    When it comes to “Broadband” in the USA the telecom oligipolies charge 25% more for a service that is ten times slower than what you can buy in Europe or Asia. I wrote about this 18 months ago in the Fiber Optic Association (FOA) newsletter:

    “Broadband In Spain Beats Most US Providers
    Peter Morcombe is a FOA certified instructor for BDI Datalynk. He came from the UK where he participated in some of the earliest British Telecom fiber installations in the 1070s. He sent us this report on what he learned during his recent holiday in Spain:

    During my vacation near Malaga I looked at the broadband services available in the area. Even though this review covers only one supplier it does show that the cost/performance available in Spain is superior to that available in much of the USA.

    Services
    As with service providers in the USA, Orange offers plenty of “bundles” but to make comparisons easier the prices listed below are for broadband only. The rates shown are in Mega bits/second:

    Down Up $/month Terminal equipment
    300 300 $34.20 Huawei HG8040
    50 50 $28.67 Huawei HG8040
    20 1 $22.04 ADSL

    For comparison my ADSL (18/1 Mbps) service from ATT costs $45/month. ATT does not offer any higher speeds in my area. One of the things that is driving costs down is the simplification of local terminal equipment.

  7. gallopingcamel says:

    The rip offs perpetrated by the telecom companies are made possible by their lobbyists who buy the politicians who protect them from prosecution under the statutes mentioned by our fearless leader:
    The Sherman Antitrust Act
    The Clayton Act
    The Federal Trade Commission Act

    While this corruption is outrageous it pales into insignificance compared to what McKesson and the rest of “Big Pharma” is getting away with. I could list hundreds of drugs that have increased in price since 2012. The price increases are not 50% or even 100%. The price of many drugs has increased by more than 25,000%. With that kind of price gouging ATT would be charging you $10.000 per month for your broadband service!

    Take a look at what has happened to one such drug over the last five years:
    Clobetasol Propionate 0.05% ointment, Price review, October 2017, 60 gram tubes

    Vendor $
    Walmart (New Hope Commons)………..$249.05
    Walmart (on-line, with coupon)……………$76.14
    Canadian on-line pharmacy……………….$40.00
    Oxford on-line pharmacy (UK)……………$9.99
    Sfarma (Bogota, Colombia)……………….$7.94
    US wholesale price, 2012………………….$0.90

    Active ingredient (Wholesale)…………….$0.0375

    Questions
    How can something cost 20 to 30 times more in the USA than elsewhere?
    How can all seven FDA approved manufacturers raise prices 100 fold in 5 years?
    How can anyone justify a retail price 6,000 times the active ingredient cost?

    Clearly we need to support Donald Trump’s crusade to “Drain The Swamp”.

  8. gallopingcamel says:

    You may think that raising drug prices by 200 times is evil but it gets much worse than that. The McKesson company has killed tens of thousands of people in the USA and continues its evil behavior n spite of Donald Trump’s “War on Opioids”.

    “Sixty Minutes” ran an amazing feature last Sunday but don’t expect anything to change:
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ex-dea-agent-opioid-crisis-fueled-by-drug-industry-and-congress/
    i

  9. Lionell Griffith says:

    Clearly, the current regime of Government Controlled Economy isn’t working all that well. The Government picks winners and loosers. The Politicians get the payoffs and the Bureaucrats get the the power and We the People get the shaft.

    What strikes me as odd is the general expectation that a Politician or Bureaucrat who has no skin in the game will be anything other than self serving. He is there because he enjoys exercising unaccountable power over others. That is what he does and that is his reward. He has nothing to lose and much to gain.

    Yet, a private company in a genuinely free economy , no matter how big, must make its customers happy or it won’t continue to exist. If it sets prices too high, it invites competition to take its place. If it sets prices to low, it doesn’t cover the cost of doing business and will soon go out of business. No matter how powerful you think they are, their only power is to provide a good or service their customers want or need at a price they are willing to pay. Truly, one dollar, one vote. Vote early and often. You will get the economy you paid for and it will work for you.

    Vote for the Government to control the economy. You will get the economy and Government you deserve. It will work for the Government but not you.

  10. pouncer says:

    Coase’s theories on “the firm” come into the discussion, somewhere soon. Maybe not yet.
    A feature of very big firms that approach monopoly is that “economies of scale” are perceived as “too big to fail”. A valuable and historically significant example is the East India Company of 18th century England. The EIC was never intended as the combined state department, marine corps, and naval reserve of the Empire, although I think it was part of the national reserve bank. But it accomplished most of those functions for the Empire and was favored. After the “French and Indian War” as England was trying to downsize the military the EIC was a good dumping ground for sailors. England was also trying, for the first time, to extract funds back out of the Americas (prior to the war the colonies were basically a sink of excess capital and even more of a sink for excess labor) So various tax schemes were tried, and rejected.

    The EIC had a great scheme based on their giant economies of scale. Seven favored retailers in North American agreed to buy tea solely from the EIC, and pay the tax. The EIC undertook to bring full shiploads of nothing BUT tea from East Asia directly to American ports, such as Boston, bypassing Europe. (Smaller competitors would load tea and other luxury goods in Europe and bring in mixed loads.) The direct bulk shipments lowered the price on tea, even after the tax. Win Win.

    EXCEPT, that small shipping companies couldn’t profit without tea in the cargo list…

    Dec 16 was party time.

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    Just a pointer to where the AT&T / net neutrality / monopoly discussion started so years from now I can find it ;-)
    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/deci-watt-gravity-and-doing-the-math/#comment-89353

    Note on Netflix: Oddly, now that the “rules” are changed, as of the last 2 nights I’ve had the “loading” spinner on Netflix over AT&T. Didn’t have it hardly at all in the prior 2 years (and then mostly when various “internet attacks” were running). This is by far the largest degree of traffic “problems” involving Netflix for me, ever. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence /sarc;

    BTW, Amazon and every other video source was working fine, as was other network traffic. This was Netflix specific. So either Netflix has just suddenly started having network / capacity issues just accidentally in sync with the change of rules, or AT&T (and similar carriers) have in fact started to play games with Netflix traffic.

    I’ll be back for the rest of the comments after my morning coffee gets my brain woke up ;-)

  12. Lionell Griffith says:

    pouncer,

    Again it was Government choosing winners and loosers, Fascism not Capitalism, that was the problem. If the Government is focused on protecting individual rights and not on granting favors to aggrandize power, such a situation would not occur. Yes, there are economies of scale but there is also stagnation arising from being too big. A nimble start up can very often out compete a stagnate huge entity. That is if the Government is not putting its thumb on the scales of justice and favoring, by force, one over the other.

    As has been said, Government IS the problem. Mostly from doing what it has no business doing. Its ONLY proper job is to prosecute the initiation of force and fraud among citizens and larger entities domestic and foreign. If it goes beyond that very narrow scope, it becomes nothing better than organized crime. Which, itself, has deemed legal for it to become and has the force of arms to make it so.

    Conflict of interest is the least problem issuing from this latter situation. For instructive detail, see every currently operating Government on earth plus the many Governments that have fallen since the first Government.

    With few exceptions, the Governments worshiped brute force power. They believed that by applying enough boots to necks, whips to backs, guns to heads, and having enough thugs to wield them, they can do anything. They eventually discover that all they can accomplish that way is poverty, despair, death, and destruction. Sadly, they never have learned from it except for all too few and too brief episodes over the history of man.

  13. gallopingcamel says:

    In the drug industry there is rapacious price fixing which means there is an oligopoly that forces sick people to pay 100 times the true cost of many drugs. This quote may help you understand why:

    People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.
    —–Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

  14. Lionell Griffith says:

    EM: as of the last 2 nights I’ve had the “loading” spinner on Netflix over AT&T

    But didn’t you sign a contract that you would receive “up to” a specific data rate and that “quality of service” was not considered part of the deal? “Up TO” means anything from zero to X. Your remedy is to complain, accept whatever you get, sue, or terminate and go elsewhere. They don’t have to deliver anything to you except a bill for services rendered precisely as required by their contract.

    I suggest re-read their terms and conditions as they have repeatedly amended and modified since the original deal. The unilateral changes were authorized under the original contract. They even attempted to notify you of those changes about which you did nothing. Interpret them as amended in the most literal and pernicious way possible. THAT is all they are obliged to deliver to you. In that perspective, be thankful you have had as little trouble as you have to date.

    Personally, I had endless problems with Verizon DSL. I terminated service and signed up with DSLExtreme over Verizon copper. I experienced a minute fraction of the issues with them. I was even able to drop land line service and keep the DSL connection that way.

    I am currently with Xfinity (Comcast) and have had minimal issues to deal with. Even though I am using my daughter’s connection by WiFi two floors above me. I did have to resolve some hardware problems at both ends that had nothing to do with Xfinity. So I am getting my own connection to Xfinity tomorrow so the problems will all reside in my apartment.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, seems I’m taking rocks from both sides, so I must have got something about right. ;-)

    Serioso continues the “insult to the person” mode (despite repeated reprimands) even while attempting a bit of praise:

    This post of yours is the reason I continue to pay attention to your blog,despite your many failings and misperceptions and stupidities. Wonderful job!

    Just could not keep to the topic and avoid an “insult to the person” eh?

    So I’m being praised for my ability to read history, and insulted for being stupid in the same breath. Hmmm… schizoid much?

    But I see you did like my generally slamming the Evil Bastards in the Elite. Yet I don’t do that out of any dislike for the system. It is simply noting the facts of economic history and political history. (Seasoned with understanding the studies showing the sociopath / psychopath tendencies of “upper management” in all fields contributing to their success). I’ve known a fair number of rich folks and folks in positions of power and authority. There are in fact 2 camps. Those who are Evil Bastards in the psycho-socio-pathic model and those who must practice some of those arts, despite being nice folks, in order to survive. I’ve been the Evil Bastard destroying my department for the increased profit of the company… but then I laid myself off too as I could not stand to stay around and look at the damage.. I lack the lack of empathy gene…

    So it isn’t like I’m against ALL of the elite or the top 5%. Many of them are in fact good folks who had a bit of good fortune (or sometimes inheritance from an Evil Bastard ancestor). Even the Evil Bastard types are largely just doing what is the most logical thing to do to “win”. My complaint, really, is just that the fundamental pressures of the game result in the promotion of the psycho-socio-pathic sorts, and the necessity of not giving a damn about destruction of employee livelihoods, supplier companies, or customer wallets.

    In the end, this competitive capitalistic game results in the most good for the most people compared to every other system tried. So, OK, Evil Bastards can be used for benefit. Got it. THEN we try to find ways to limit their damage that comes when they start to achieve dominance (in a field, a market segment, or the economy in general) via laws mandating competition. Have I mentioned lately that economics is called The Dismal Science for a reason? I’d love to see a better solution, but none exists yet…

    (Note that psychopath and sociopath have been merged into one new category by the psych community lately, thus the dashed composite in my usage).

    @The Libertarian Themeists:

    Then we have the “IF ONLY there were no Government, everything would be perfect with only a perfect market” crowd hating me for raining on their parade with pointers to the actual historical results and the general failure of markets to restrain excesses of avarice when fueled with lots of money.

    Ignoring the basic problem that without a referee a free and fair market does not survive. It collapses in any of several ways. It turns into a controlled / collusion driven rip off of the people by the surviving monopoly or oligopoly in collusion respectively. Given enough time, that eventually decays into a Monarchy as one Giant Fat Wallet with Army takes over. I’m not going to review the 5000 years history of Empires, and how well that works out for the little guy… Lately, we’ve tried Socialism as the One Big Fat Wallet and that just means the Evil Bastard has to work the system before taking over (see Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, etc. etc.)

    Sure, in a completely non-regulated market you ARE free to compete. You may take all the time you want to face off with your water pistol against the guy with nuclear weapons. Go right ahead. They might even notice that squishy sound as their tank runs over you… (why waste a nuke?…)

    We had a period in history when there was no market regulator. It didn’t end well. I guess I need to do a series on Economic History… since some folks seem doomed to repeat it from lack of remembering it.

    @The Specific Examples:

    Why Sears? Because it is well documented in the literature. Sears, forever near as I can tell, played the ‘special serial number’ game. Walmart is late to it, but yeah, they do it too (as do many these days I believe).

    Drugs? Sure, they are a great example. But I can’t use all examples in one posting. They also have started most of their most abusive practices lately, so less literature support. Then there’s the international dimension…. It ends up in a long discussion of using USA prices to fund 3rd World discounts as a kind of closet wealth redistribution / socialism; and that just wasn’t a topic I was interested in including in this article. The more interesting aspect of it is the spectacular “price discrimination” effect. Prices are set at the highest possible, and with Insurance Companies having Big Fat Wallets, that price is eye-wateringly high. Then various “discounts” are given as people show they can’t pay. It also ends up sucking in the issues of Government Subsidy and Public Health, so you end up in a quagmire that takes a book to describe.

    @My Lack Of Appreciation For Government Imperfection:

    Do note that at no time have I said “Government is the best answer”. I have only noted that we don’t really have a good answer and that free markets don’t work all that well while governments are up for sale (in the long run) and regulatory bodies are subject to “regulatory capture”. Somehow tossing eggs at both sides has me being assigned as cheer leader for government? Sheesh.

    SO FAR, the best we’ve been able to do is anti-trust laws and monopoly regulation to enforce effective competition. It hasn’t worked well, but it has worked better than during the no-regulation era. That’s just economic history. Stating facts is not advocacy. I’d be thrilled to see some alternative that works better. (And no, it isn’t wild west perfectly free markets, as we know that ends badly).

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    I see Lionell is being cheer leader for the “shrink wrap” contract with the local oligopoly.

    Sure, I’m “free” to take my business to the only OTHER local oligopolist with the exact same terms… and sure, they have made them ever more favorable to themselves over time in “updates” (that I HAVE read – but can’t do a damn thing about).

    You see, that is exactly the problem with an Oligopoly / Monopoly Practices situation: THERE IS NO EFFECTIVE COMPETITION SO THE OLIGOPOLIST TAKES ALL and that includes all legal contract advantages.

    Your choices are “shut up and BOHICA take it” or have nothing. Have a nice day.

    (BOHICA: Bend Over Here It Comes Again)

    Might as well assert that the lamb has a free choice with the lion… Be lunch or run like hell and hope…

  17. Lionell Griffith says:

    EM: I see Lionell is being cheer leader for the “shrink wrap” contract with the local oligopoly.

    Not a cheer leader. Just noting the consequences from signing the contract. You complain about the consequences, yet you signed the contract. You got exactly what you signed up for: zero up to the limit set by the contract. What else did you expect from a 1000 lb gorilla?

    Please notice, I did not ban Government totally. It does have a valid, useful, and objective function to perform. Prosecuting violation of rights. Which each individual owns because of his nature and his relation ship to reality. No individual nor group of individuals has a right to violate rights.

    One right you have is to make agreements with others called contracts. The terms of which are to be freely accepted or rejected. If accepted, both parties are obliged to meet the terms of the contract. The so called oligopoly has a right to set its terms and conditions but once set and accepted, it is obliged to deliver as promised. The only part the Government has to play is to arbitrated disagreements over the terms or prosecute willful and forceful violation of them. You should note that the oligopoly inherits its rights because each individual member of the oligopoly has those rights to begin with but has no rights beyond those owned by its members.

    So in that venue, a lamb and two wolfs discussing what is for lunch, the lamb can decline to be lunch. If the wolfs disagree and start cooking the lamb, the Government can/should step in and prosecute the wolfs. Alternatively, the lamb could have been armed and exercised is right of self defense and the wolfs would have been persuaded to look for lunch elsewhere.

    The basic concept of individual rights and total respect for them is a very necessary condition for civil behavior by all parties and civil institutions. Without that concept and respect, the civilization is doomed. It is the function of Government to make sure those rights are respected and the thugs are controlled. If, as it has customarily happened, the Government becomes a gang of thugs, then things go down hell very fast. The bottom line is that respect for individual rights is a necessary precondition for staying alive and thriving. Anything else, and things don’t turn out so well.

  18. pouncer says:

    “Government IS the problem. Mostly from doing what it has no business doing. Its ONLY proper job is to prosecute the initiation of force and fraud among citizens and larger entities domestic and foreign. ”

    Yeah but! Adam Smith points out in the very first formal economics text that business owners ASK for “force” by government to restrict trade, in favor of those currently in the trade. ANY trade. So hair dressers want state licensing boards to regulate (shut down) the people who braid or weave hair. So taxicab companies want cities to regulate (ruin) Uber and Lyft. It’s rare that the government gets off its duff to seek out opportunities to interfere. Like a vampire, it has to be invited in. Usually to do something that at least superficially seems like it should be done and can be done. While our host and I are of different opinions about the actual implementation of “net neutrality” we have seen that there are real problems with the internet and there are big players who WANT the government in as a referee to — if not pick winners and losers, per se — reward those perceived to be virtuous and punish those who act otherwise. The East India Company overall as a historical entity did far more good than harm. (The harms are better documented) It really did solve a policy problem for the English. And it would have lowered consumer prices ON TEA (at the expense of all other imported commodities — Bastiat, phone home.) Arguably AT&T brought communication services to more areas of the continent than any other company under any other rules.

    But those rules, I would argue, are not applicable to the current age. Start from scratch. Allow local entities (and co-ops, and clubs and charities and others) to experiment with fiber and cable and wire and wet twine without imposing regulatory overhead. Where force is applied it should widen choices rather than narrow them, so that (say) the cable company poles might be required to lease space to the fiber-optic lines. I just think that STARTING from a position that accepts the idea of monopoly (economy of scale, natural exclusions, insurmountable barriers to entry, socialization of Coasian transaction costs, etc) as an axiom to justify what services the public SHOULD want and get is, and has been up until recently, a mistake.

  19. Larry Ledwick says:

    The most effective counter to monopolistic growth would have to be a combination of factors.
    Government when it gets big enough to control dominant monopolies can be as bad as the monopolies (and often works as a partner with them just prior to the pitchfork and torches parade).

    The thing that is lacking in capitalistic systems is an effective negative feed back to excessive size and power. We try to accomplish it with regulations (progressive tax rates where the rich pay more taxes – sounds good on paper but in the real world the folks with the power write the rules).

    We also try to accomplish it with social pressure (religion and other ethical systems which frown on abusive behavior – bad news is when they get dominant enough to confront monopolies and big government they become as bad as either [ see Holy Roman Church in the middle ages ], we try to confront it with power blocks of the little people ( labor unions, social movements ) but by their nature and the nature of humans to affiliate in power alliances to benefit themselves they too can become destructive and oppressive as the forces that they oppose.

    At the time the labor unions formed and confronted the predatory robber barons, the robber barons and the government were little different than the divine right kings of the middle ages and the workers were little more than serfs as testified by events like the Ludlow Massacre and similar events. In time the labor unions became as bad as the robber barons as testified by the influence of organized crime and certain unions.

    Like a temperature control system things oscillate around a mean with excursions toward limits as all those power forces push back and forth against each other.

    The trick is to find a way to tune that control circuit so the opposing forces act quicker to bring things back to the acceptable mean and then back off and do not push things to the opposite extreme.

    That in my opinion is a social problem, people need to be less tolerant of abusive behavior (quicker trigger of opposing action) but less inclined to abuse power themselves (turn the negative control off sooner when it gets to the median so it does not over shoot).

    No I don’t have a solution but I see the method to get there.

    The population at large needs a higher ethical standard and must be quicker to act when that ethical standard is abused, but also be more forgiving once things are restored. The problem is who’s ethical standard do we use?

    That is the root of the problem with no agreement on what “good” looks like everyone is trying to push the cart in a different direction.

  20. Lionell Griffith says:

    Larry: The problem is who’s ethical standard do we use?

    It is not who’s, it is what. We humans are alive and have a fundamental choice to stay alive or not. If we choose not to live, the point is moot. All we have to do is nothing and our choice will soon be delivered to us. If we choose to live, then we must choose the path that is consistent with human life. If we want to thrive, we must choose the path that is consistent with human thriving. Those paths are not arbitrary. Our reality based nature determines their content. So a rational consideration of those necessities is what shows us the path to “the good”. We have to choose wisely and follow them.

    The problem of the ages has been the general presumption that the path we must follow is arbitrary based upon tradition, ancient sacred texts, or assertions of strong men. The general chaos of rise and fall of nation states, states, and empires are the consequence. It has not been good. At most some lived to a natural death but most died unnatural deaths. Rarely and only recently has there been anything like thriving even for the rapacious elite.

    This should tell us something but it doesn’t. We learn that we refuse to learn from history and we continue to make the mistakes humans have always made. This is simply because we persist with the general presumption that the requirements of human existence and thriving are arbitrary: the who and not what. We think all we have to do is try harder because our gang can do it better. With exactly the same results as every other gang.

    What is, IS. Our only option for living and thriving is to learn what it is and to act accordingly. It is neither contingent nor arbitrary. It is specific and particular to the kind of being we humans are.

  21. pouncer says:

    “The most effective counter to monopolistic growth would have to be a combination of factors.”

    Well, opposition rather than combination, and factions rather than factors, and with those terminological amendments you are echoing the Federal Papers.

    Even there we have a problem. Enlightenment thinkers tended to believe that each individual and faction would be seeking their own best interests. This is sometimes criticized for basing a society upon “greed”. Yeah, well. Stipulated, nonce. The most commonly seen alternative are societies where individuals and factions seek revenge, punishment, and one-up-status. One might say such systems are based on “spite.” A greed-motivated faction attempting to deal (or combine) with a spite-motivated faction will fail of Englightenment expecations. The greed-systems build and the spite-systems destroy. And the spite-systems will claim the destruction as a virtue — “breaking up” cartels and “tearing down” various X-isms, and “punching back” against those who may benefit from a situation they neither caused nor particularly advocate.

  22. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes blood vendetta based societies where revenge or destruction of opponents ranks higher in their needs hierarchy break the opposing faction balance system. I had a web acquaintance who served in Iraq and one of his complaints is how that sort of social structure broke our efforts to stabilize the country and get them on a road to progress. You would build a medical facility so the locals could get medical care or restore a power plant and then one of the other factions would wait until it was up and running and full of members of the other tribe and then blow it up. Can’t have the other group being more prosperous that we are can we?

    This is a basic mindset problem that our western culture does not well grasp. It is at the heart of what is going on in Europe, the globalist do-gooders bringing in refugees assume that they want to aspire to success like European refugees would, for example Hungarians who fled the Communists in the 1950’s would set up home in some other European country and they try to be successful.

    What they are getting instead is a group of people who want to convert Europe into the same place they left before the war started, where tribal politics and family honor are more important than the success of all members of the population at large.

    As a result the old Europe of the modern era 20th century is doomed, it will either be turned into a hell hole like the middle east where the incoming refugees succeed in importing all their social problems, or there will be a massive period of civil unrest which eventually ejects those who do not conform to the old European norms of live and let live, and general prosperity for all.

    The question is how long it will take for the old Europeans to revolt of submit.

  23. Lionell Griffith says:

    There is no way that a shame and revenge culture can co exist with a live and let live culture. Attempting to combine the two is rather like pouring gasoline onto water and tossing a lighted match into the attempted mixture. The explosive result destroys both cultures.

    I suggest that is exactly what the political elite want to happen. It is their intent to deconstruct any remnant of live and let live in order to make living as a human impossible. Even at the cost of their own extinction.

    They will think to themselves that they are building a masters and slaves society with them as the masters. They lie to themselves as well as everyone else. If allowed to continue, living in the 9th century will appear as living in paradise by comparison. The few who survive will be members of hunting and gathering tribes killing each other for a few scraps of garbage. The living will envy the dead.

    We must work to rebuild the values of the enlightenment where reason and the search for truth was valued far more than getting even over imaginary slights. This is the path to living and thriving as humans on earth.

  24. jim2 says:

    We REALLY need to ban immigration from the ME.

  25. pouncer says:

    Let me signal my own modest virtue with the warning that “spite” cultures are not confined to any particular national, religious or ethnic group. The Russian (Christian Orthodox white) culture tells a joke on itself, in which an angel offers two men (a local Russian man and somebody from far away) one wish apiece. The catch to the magic (and there is always a catch in such tales) is that the wish would be granted to double effect to the wisher’s worst enemy. So the stranger wishes for a ton of gold (or whatever greed leads him to desire) even knowing his enemy would receive two tons. The Russian, instead and in spite, wishes to have a sharp stick poked into one eye…

    This, somehow in my confused head, brings us to monopoly control of non-rivalous assets. Let us suppose I have control over a neighborhood co-ax cable line, the right of way, the poles, etc, the switches, etc. I can fill the pipe with TV signals (HBO, whatever) or I can provide internet; or I can sell some mix of the two. (I think. The technical details are almost certainly over-simplified to the point of outright error.) But the line or pipe is finite and once the bandwidth is in use, everything else, all rival usage, is shut down, or at least pushed to the back of the queue. This is “rivalous” and I think it is usual and expected that the owner of the resource controls which user (usually the high bidder, or the most politically connected) gets the use.

    It’s not clear to me that the “right of way” upon which the poles and physical line sit should be allocated in a rivalous and exclusive fashion. Yes, at some finite point the pole can’t hold up any more wire. But it is a system of socially approved government granted property rights (one including emminent domains and uncompensated “takings”) that allows a firm to run such a line. (Or railroad, or literal pipeline, or sewer, or footpath). For a holder of the RIGHT OF WAY asset, (not the cable line or pipe, but the public space) to become spiteful and declare “Mine, won’t share, you can’t have it, nobody gets it but me”) rather deprives any number of other (greedy) users and (greedy) users of fiber and twisted-pair and wet twine the services they could otherwise use. And if society DOES want, so badly, that a wet twine ISP serve the neighborhood that it takes MORE property from the curbside to install ANOTHER set of poles, then we have, I think an even worse economic mis-allocation. And it arises from mis-defining or mis-perceiving an asset (the right of way) as rivalous when it really isn’t. And in my opinion, it is horribly wrong for governments at any level to offer any firm private control and “rationing” power over public “goods”.

    That the firm that paid to acquire and install line poles should be compensated by rents for shared use of their physical assets, I would agree, of course. That such rents might be set as to exclude competition … well, now, there is the case for the public regulation agencies — however imperfectly such agencies might price such rents. *Sigh*. Reality is a far from perfect place.

  26. pouncer says:

    Edit — (greedy) users and (greedy) providers — in contrast to the dog-in-the-manger operator of the existing lines.

  27. EMS,
    I agree with what you write. I would add that the rot started with Milton Freedman persuading business colleges to teach that the only thing that mattered was short term return to the shareholders, that resulted in stagnant wages since the 1980s and loss of loyalty to and from businesses.
    Then as I wrote in the piece linked below, Congress is now a millionaire’s club and basically works for the rich. Citizens United made the situation unlikely to change, where the rich can fund their favored candidates. It will have to get worse before the general population votes this crowd out.
    I think there is little to choose between the Democrats and Repbulicans. I choose to live here because it is still better than most other countries.
    See: http://www.delcotimes.com/article/DC/20171026/NEWS/171029700

  28. gallopingcamel says:

    Orrin Hatch suggests that Trump may rank among the greatest presidents ever. While Trump may make it to Mount Rushmore it seems certain that he will at least rank with Ronald Reagan.

    IMHO Reagan was the greatest president since WWII but he had two failings:
    1. He did very little to cut spending by the federal government.
    2. He left no successor so his legacy was frittered away by the presidents who followed him.

    In his second year Trump will address government spending as he has signaled by talking about reforming entitlements, taking care of point #1.

    Then there is the question of who will pick up his mantle in 2024 (assuming the Deep State fails to assassinate him). Here is my little fantasy.

    Nikki Haley was virulently opposed to Donald Trump while she was governor of South Carolina yet she has an important position in the Trump administration. This suggests that Trump is impressed by her ability.

    Everything Nikki Haley has done since taking over from abysmal Samantha Power has shown she is no PC shrinking violet. If she keeps backing Donald Trump could she be his successor in 2024? Maggie Thatcher was the first female PM in the UK. Nikki Haley sounds a lot like Maggie!

  29. gallopingcamel says:

    @Adrian Ashfield,
    Robert Michel wrote that all governments tend towards oligarchy. Donald Trump is doing his best to wrest power from the oligarchs (aka the “Donor Class”) who currently rule the USA.

    If he fails you can expect the USA to become (at best) like Russia or (at worst) like Venezuela if a Bernie Sanders is elected president.

  30. philjourdan says:

    @GC – I agree with your assessment of Reagan. However as an understanding of his #1 failing, Reagan trusted his fellow man in his word. So he trusted the democrats to keep their promise of reducing spending instead of forcing a show down.

    He was wrong in that. But he grew up in a time when a man’s word was his bond. So his real failing was in being too trusting.

  31. @GC. Trump and some other politicians have figured out their voter’s hot buttons are things like immigrants, border walls, gender questions, race, and slogans, rather than what is good for the country or even good for their own pockets. They let pass that what Congress is actually doing is working for the rich.

    Trump’s voter base (eg. Evangelicals) is astoundingly ignorant as shown here:
    A 2009 poll by Harris Interactive found that 39% of Americans agreed with the statement that “God created the universe, the earth, the sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and the first two people within the past 10,000 years”,

  32. pouncer says:

    That a significant fraction of the public has made the conscious choice to lie to poll-takers such as Harris may be inferred by the incontrovertible fact that the public told poll-takers they preferred Hillary.

    I’m always curious when I hear or see the category “Evangelical” brought into a discussion where that distinction would not ordinarily apply (Vs, say, Orthodox, Catholic, Liturgical,…) How is this used, here? News of the week suggests that Alabama voters (who apparently lied up and down to the poll-takers in the week before their Senate election) included “a vast majority” of “evangelical” BLACK voters, who chose the Democratic candidate.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/12/13/there-was-an-enormous-gap-between-black-evangelical-voters-and-white-evangelical-voters-in-alabama/?utm_term=.16b8bdfd9fdf

    (The mix of a specific number — 96% — and vague quantity — vast majority — in one sentence irritates me no end.)

    Are we to infer that Black voters are in general astonishingly ignorant, (while White voters may or may not be) or is there another claim implied that I have overlooked? Perhaps one arising from a different usage of the term “Evangelical” than as used in the Washington Post?

    It might perhaps be useful to consider religious monopolies in history. Particularly the factional nature of political development in England since the 16th century, divided between Catholics, Episcopals, the (swing voters) Presbyterian-Calvinists. In my understanding it was the insistance of the Presby’s on being taken seriously, and treated fairly, that led to rules treating EVERYBODY fairly. And so provides an argument against an Established Church and religous monopoly. But I may be stretching to bring the topic back on track.

  33. Larry Ledwick says:

    That poll is complete BS, the percentage of people in the US who truly believe that, is no where close to that. Most people probably did not even read all the way to the end of the line to get to the age qualifier. By changing the manner in which a poll question is asked and the context of nearby questions you can get just about any answer you want. Don’t believe that assessment for a minute it is complete hogwash. Evangelicals are actually a small fraction of the population and of Trump’s base. Hard core Evangelical Protestants are less than 25% (and falling) of the entire US population and strongly concentrated is certain areas of the country, so it is impossible for 39% of Americans to hold those beliefs.Perhaps in small areas of the bible belt you could get those numbers but it is not representative of the US population.

    Thanks to the lack of science training in schools now many younger folks would say yes to that simply because they have had zero training in geological time and archeology, and just see that as a really long time ago. If you can find a link to the original poll I would like to see the context of that poll question and what the sample size and qualifications were.

    Of all the people I know (and have known) – there is “1” person who would knowingly answer that question yes after fully reading it and considering it. (I have actually talked to them about this, and evolution etc.)

  34. pounveer & Larry,
    Acording to Wikipedia about 25% of Americans are Evangelicals. A Pew survey puts it it at 26% and the most popular religion in the US. According to Pew, 76% of Evangelicals are white.

    I only used Evangekicals as an example because they believe the Bible should be taken literally and so it is easy to show that is wrong. The ignorance is more widespread but difficult to prove in a sentence.

    Another way of looking at it is to consider just who gets voted into office. For whatever reason it seems to me voters make very poor choices by re-electing those who have obviously done little to help the country. I don’t expect that to change in my lifetime.

  35. jim2 says:

    So Adrian, who defined “evangelicals” for that Wikipedia article? I’m not buying it without clarification.

  36. jim2 says:

    AA – Au Contraire – the voters did a great job electing Trump. I guess you believe he is an evangelical?

  37. catweazle666 says:

    “Trump’s voter base (eg. Evangelicals) is astoundingly ignorant…”

    Really…

    That’s a LOT of US citizens you’ve just insulted there, sunshine.

    And I bet very many of them are far, far better educated then you and are employed in professions that are much more highly paid than you.

    I bet you’re a Clinton supporter, right?

  38. I wrote this http://www.delcotimes.com/article/DC/20171026/NEWS/171029700 before the tax bill had been passed. I would have been more scathing if had been before.
    Consider that one of the most important bills was passed with no debate at all and little expert input.
    It was voted on by people who had not had a chance to even read it and could well have been replaced by rubber stamps. All it will do is make the rich richer, increase the national debt and do nothing to simplify the ten million words in tax legislation. All the loopholes still exist for the rich.

    The rich corporations didn’t need it with the stock market going up >20% in a year and currently paying little over 20% in tax now. What should have been done is drop the corporate tax some an eliminate the loopholes.
    The net result is that by giving them a trillion dollars there is not enough left over to do things like fix the infrastructure. Expect Trump and the war hawks to star another war to change the subject.

  39. catweazle666 says:

    From your link above, dated 10/26/17:

    “I think LENR (aka cold fusion) is a front runner. There will be a major demo of one before the end of November.”

    It is now almost the end of December, and I haven’t seen any demo.

    Do you wish to revise that prediction?

  40. Jin2,
    There are many articles about Evangelical beliefs as well as the Wikipedia one. Look them up yourself. One cornerstone of their beliefs is that the Bible should b taken literally.

    No. I thought Hillary would be even worse than Trump. She is a war monger.

    catweazle666, do you really think the universe was created just 10,000 years ago?

  41. E.M.Smith says:

    Well,

    Looks like a lot of discussion has happened while I was busy on a computer task… I’ll catch up a bit later today.

    For now, I’ll only add that the category “Evangelical” is a very broad one. It is NOT what most folks think, and it is not correctly described as “ignorant white folks”. For example, my Son, who graduated with high honors from U.C., is an Evangelical.

    THE defining property of Evangelical is, like many others, the question of “Who can interpret the Bible?” Basically “who sets the rules and by what authority?”.

    Catholics hold that only the one Holy See, the one head Bishop, can set the the rules. Thus, a Pope.

    A Presbyter is a church elder. So only an Elder can run the church.

    Apostolic means founded by one of the original Apostles, so their belief is that you ought to have your foundation in one of the original apostles to have authority (though interpreted and presented by the living followers of that apostle).

    Lutherans derive their authority from Luther. Baptists follow the example of John the Baptist. So it goes. Who’s your source of authority tends to set your name.

    So what’s an Evangelical? Someone who believes in the doctrine of Solo Scriptura – only the Scripture is authoritative and ANYONE can read it and “spread the word”, or evangelize. Basically the folks who say ‘Pope? Pope! We don’t need no stieeenking POPE!” (or grand apostolic heritage or Presbyter to tell us what to think, we have the Bible.)

    Now there will be lots of arguing over exactly which denominations and sects are in, and out, of the Evangelical group (as folks love to bicker about everything, but especially things religious and that put them in boxes, and this is both), but that IS the basic mode of the systematic naming. There are some non-systematic (or other system…) names. Mormons follow the Book Of Mormon as their source of authority. Jehovah’s Witnesses are strongly Solo Scriptura and have no formal clergy. At their meetings, the congregation basically studies Bible verses to come to a consensus about the meaning, and the leader at the front is just someone from the group. Their name reflects their belief that they are just reading the Word Of God and witnessing to it.

    So yeah, as a predominately Protestant nation, we will have far more Solo Scriptura folks than Pope followers or Church Of England (where King of England is the source of authority) or Episcopalians (and Episcopal means Bishop – as in Any Bishop can set the rules, not just the one in Rome… so when the Church of England split from Roman Pope, their local Bishop was their source of authority, then when the USA dumped the King, our version of that church dropped England from the name and went with Bishop…)

    Also, 75% or so white is about right. Since Blacks are about 10% of US population and that leaves 15% for everyone else. In essence, it is strongly representative of the average American. BTW, the Holy Roller types are Evangelicals. You know, those Black churches with the singing and clapping and hands in the air palms to God… Nothing in Evangelical is a race issue.

    Me? Oh, I just have a flaky little Ph.D. in Religion from a nothing church… I’ve got copies of a dozen bibles on the shelf (including the Book Of Mormon and the Jehovah’s Witnesses versions, along with the Peshita – my favorite -, KJV with Apocrypha, Catholic, and a few dozen electronic ones back to the Latin Vulgate, Septuagint, Douay-Rhimes, Old Spanish, Wycliffe, and more) though I gave away my Parallel Bible with the New Revised Standard parallel with KJV and with a couple of modern “free translations” to a minister from Mississippi who had lost his goods in a hurricane a decade or two back… A Black Evangelical Minister who was visiting the predominantly White church my kids were attending here, as they were the same sect… This church assembled a batch of relief supplies and my Son joined the team that went back with him to rebuild his church for his almost 100% black congregation… Evangelicals are like that… My personal faith is, well, The Church Of Me. My source of authority is also Solo Scriptura, but I read a broader set of books. Including the Nag Hammadi Texts and the Gnostic Bible (also on my shelf) with what is available of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Spouse has now become Catholic, so I join her there sometimes (as an unwashed outsider who can’t take communion). I was baptized in a First Southern Baptist church, went to the Episcopal church for a few years (my sister was dating his son…) and have occasionally gone to a dozen+ different churches (plus a Synagogue and a couple of Buddhist Temples). So yeah, I’m “eclectic”… Forced to label “me”, I’d have to say something like “Basically Christian Heritage Buddhist leaning Bookish – with roots in deep history”.

    So not exactly an enthusiastic evangelical – just someone who has attended their services a lot with some family members over the years (decades…). I know them fairly well. They are good folks and generally pretty bright. Just because they don’t believe the Approved Science Fable doesn’t make them dumb. At present, there is no longer enough time between the Hadean when the earth was a fireball and the appearance of first life, so clearly something is wrong in the Scientific Consensus. My guess is that it is ‘life from space’… but then again, I’m pretty sure we’ve been visited by Space Aliens over the history of Earth and they account for many of our legends and “visions”…. The hieroglyph for “teacher” was listed as a star and a gate symbol combined in one of my books… Just sayin’… So I’d lean more toward the “Intelligent Design” thesis – but where the intelligence is extra-solar… Then again, what makes a God but being exotic with exceptional abilities… BUT, I’m not going to shove my interpretation of our scattered and damaged history onto others, and I’m comfortable with folks choosing their own interpretations, be it based on Science Consensus Mythology or on their reading of Solo Scriptura Bibles.

    In my interpretation of what we know, the Bible is historically accurate about events (where we’ve had digs able to find things), and most likely metaphorical in the way it describes the unfolding of time and space. (Put on a time line and allowing for the expansion of time from the first Big Bang, the days of creation actually line up. So just an issue of when you calibrated your “day”. Calibrate it at the Big Bang, it expands as time expands and matches the Biblical timeline of events.) The rest is just recording the stories of observers of folks with exceptional abilities (from whatever source derived) trying to improve the human condition. Lots of good stuff in it, but IMHO, micro-interpreting single lines of it and expanding them into whole world views is a broken behaviour. Still, the folks who do that are generally good hearted folks. (As in “Bless his heart”… ;-)

    The point of those last few paragraphs being that my description of Evangelical’s is NOT because I am one; I’m not. Just like I’m not a Catholic (despite Mom converting to Catholic after I was on my own, and despite the Spouse becoming one a few years back) and no longer Baptist. I’m just a “me” doing “me things”. Though I do like attending different churches (to sort of enjoy the theatre of them and study what makes them, them).

    So please, drop the Evangelical Bashing. If you haven’t spent a few years attending several of the dozens of sects, you have no clue what they are and the richness and variety of their churches.

  42. philjourdan says:

    @Catweazle666 – It is a common misconception among the ignorant left in this country. And they get bitten by it all the time.

    I have a term for it. Arrogant ignorance.

  43. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. – Just a slight correction on your definition of Catholics. They believe the Pope is the final authority on things about the Faith, but not necessarily on the bible. That is part of the reason most protestant denominations look down on Catholics as ignorant of the Bible (and they are mostly correct). The Pope does not pretend that only he can interpret the bible, only that he has the final say on matters of Faith (e.g. the Virgin Birth, Contraception, etc.).

    While that distinction may seem trivial to some, it is actually important when understanding the Catholic faith.

  44. E.M.Smith says:

    @Phil:

    Um, I think I was careful to say “source of authority” not “interpret the Bible”, but yeah, that’s a good clarification to make. Catholics are not Solo Scriptura, as they are Scripture + Pope.

    It is the foundation of much of the historical angst between Reformation Protestants and The Roman Catholic Church. (as opposed to the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church with it’s own Pope).

    But my comment was already too long and I had to leave a lot out… or I’d be writing a whole book.

    Thankfully, we’re mostly over that whole burning at the stake and nailing things to church doors stuff… (Though my Baptist Minister was a bit less than serine when, as a 10 year old, I asked what made Baptists different from Catholics… and he pointed out “we don’t have any idols at the front of our Church”… so some iconoclasts still lurk… and more explaining needed that a statue or painting is not necessarily an idol and can just be a visual aid… something the Muslims need to learn too…)

  45. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. – You were. However the context seemed to imply the Bible, so I just wanted to clarify it. My wording was not precise in my dissenting comment.

    But I will agree we are long past those times. The Church I belong to was formed 40 years ago. In the first 5 years of existence, we were without a building, so we had to rely on the kindness of other denominations. All of the Christian ones in the area, opened their doors to us (Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and others I am unaware of the exact denomination). Indeed, while I and 2 of my cousins were married by the same priest, we were each married in different churches in the area. It depended upon which one had the space at the time.

  46. Lionell Griffith says:

    Adrian,

    A letter to the editor does not constitute proof of anything other than it is a letter to the editor. If cold fusion works with a power gain of 500 and is so easy to build and operate, where are the commercial devices available for personal demonstration and sale? Without that being available, I still think it is a scam or at best a gross misrepresentation of what it actually is.

    Especially since the implications it has for maintenance of technological civilization and the advance of quality of live for billions who are presently experiencing energy poverty. The invention could easily be worth trillions. Why the hold up? Could it not be that it really doesn’t work as advertised?

    As always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and not in the sales pitch.

  47. Lionell Griffith says:

    EM,
    My comment on the “religious” discussion is that all those who believe in the One True God, are atheists with respect to at least 10,000 other such critters. So except for the one part in approximately ten thousand I am in total agreement with them. Hence, though I have no belief in that one part’s existence, I and the religious are much more alike than we are different. However, that slight difference is vitally important to them. I find the importance they place on it maximally absurd. As long as they go their way and I can go mine, they are welcome to whatever they think they get out of it.

  48. Lionell Griffith,
    “A letter to the editor does not constitute proof of anything other than it is a letter to the editor.”

    I didn’t wrote the piece nine centuries ago, on parchment, so I don’t expect to have legions of faithful supporters. Here are two other sources though. Aftenposten is Norway’s largest newspaper and Mats Lewan is a well known science reporter.
    https://www.aftenposten.no/digital/Unknown-energy-source-with-enormous-potential-10899b.html

    https://animpossibleinvention.com/2017/11/26/reflections-on-the-nov-24-e-cat-qx-demo-in-stockholm/

    Andrea Rossi has been testing the QX for over a year, which is a very necessary first step, and has only just reached the point of making a final commercial design Since the demo, at least one investor has stepped up to fund the construction of a small automated line, that can be duplicated to suit demand. The manufacture of the control unit and assembly of QXs to larger modules is probably more difficult. He is hoping to have it done by the end of 2018 and then further testing will be required. I ques we will be lucky to commercial units until sometime in 2019.

    No demonstration, without giving away the IP, will convince the critics, only the sale of commercial units. So you just have to wait for definitive proof.

  49. EMS,
    You know a lot more about religion than I do. My intent was not to disparage Evangelicals. It’s just the GK and IQ of the voting public doesn’t to seem high to me.

  50. EMS,
    At best, only one religion can be right. That means the majority of the world are following a false religion. Is there an explanation that makes this problem go away?

  51. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian:

    That’s fine. I just figured someone had to defend the underdog who wasn’t here to do it.

    Unfortunately, IQ correlates with the ability to do certain tricks rather than with care in thought; thus my use of the phrase Tidy Mind instead. I’ve known many folks with low IQ who had better Tidy Mind skills than most of the “well educated” I’ve met.

    One of the things they do better is to realize they might be wrong. The tendency to pig headed obstinance in the face of error is rampant in the educated “bright” and limits their Tidy Mind skills. As one example. Leaping to firm answers on theory and insufficient evidence is another. Mixing those two is why “Science proceeds one funeral at a time”…

    So I’m certain Darwinian evolution happens. We’ve seen it. BUT. it does not explain the origin of life. “Issues” with Darwinian evolution as origin have just kept growing. We are now near zero time between oceans forming and life… so insufficient time to evolve new life. Oh Dear… Yet it is still pushed, hard, as the only thing “intelligent” people can think. Obstinance in error. Classic.

    I’m quite willing to say we just do not know. When you do not know, all options must be considered. Even Intelligent Design. We are close to making designer life ourselves. Might we not someday send seeder capsules to newly formed worlds to spread life? If we can do it, what says nobody else ever did… And by what logic is asking that question grounds for assertion of deficient intelligence? To me, it looks like the rabid Darwin Only folks are the ones showing lesser thinking skills. Now what name you give the Designer is really the only difference between belief in God and belief in Space Aliens ‘did it’. (Or life evolved over 10 billion years on a planet around a brown dwarf that got pulled into interstellar space by some catastrophic event and was seeded by accident… but that too is just a rampant theoretical and just moves causality back to ‘what caused that to happen’ while not showing it wasn’t “God” that caused the gravity event…)

    Sure, the folks doing Biblical “begats” timelines to date the earth at several thousand years are wrong. But no more wrong than saying life evolved into existence over a billion years on earth. So I’m not going to choose one of them as smart and the other dumb. One can be smart and use bad data or a wrong starting point. IMHO. both have done that.

    So, is the general population dumber than I’d like? Sure is. Then again, they make a lot fewer seriously harmful choices than the really bright people… It is the best and brightest that crush cultures into empires and murder millions… as they are the “leadership”… So I’ll take “about average” IQ and careful with a good moral compass over “High IQ, reckless, and low morality” any day.

    Sidebar on superiority:

    In programming there is the Law Of Mutual Superiority. Anything you program, I can improve; and anything i program you can improve.” I once had a stellar example of that in general life. At a BBQ Place my boss and I ordered the same meal, but he had diet coke and I had regular. Meals on the counter and we are called. I get to the counter: “Which if these is the diet?”. Soda Jerk looks at them, back and forth (clearly not remembering) and says “That one.” while pointing. Curious, I asked “How do you know?”. “Bubbles last longer in the one with sugar.”. At that moment, the Soda Jerk was superior to me. He had higher IQ at the soda identification ‘trick’.

    Foundational to my world view is that general truth. EVERYONE is superior to me at something, and I am superior to them in something else. Nobody is better, or even smarter, in all things. We are all mutually superior.

    The very high IQ sorts tend to not know that. But that’s OK, that’s just the place where they are inferior to the others… “bless their hearts”…

    I do tend to try to keep insults “to the person” (or even “to the group”) to a minimum due to that insight. It isn’t the person that’s the issue, it’s the specific thought, idea, or statement… To assert otherwise is to fail to understand the Law Of Mutual Superiority…

  52. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian:

    An entire religion is not “wrong” just because some detail is “wrong” (or worse, not in agreement with another in some trivial detail). Only that one idea is “wrong”.

  53. pouncer says:

    “My intent was not to disparage Evangelicals.”

    Ah! So “astoundingly ignorant” was presented as and should be considered to be a neutral assessment?

    “At best, only one religion can be right. That means the majority of the world are following a false religion.”

    Hmm. What would you say to the proposition that “Only one map can be right, and the majority are using a false map.” ? As you consider the response, please bear in mind that rectangular coordinates measuring a flat surface and inviting Euclidean analysis are widely used and useful even though we all “know” the surface of the planet is entirely otherwise

  54. catweazle666 says:

    Adrian, please tell me you aren’t a shareholder in Rossi’s E-Cat.

    Mind you, if you are, I’ve got some really splendid magic beans you’ll find very interesting, ‘m sure we can work out a deal to both our satisfaction.

    As to “do you really think the universe was created just 10,000 years ago?”, no, of course I don’t.

    The true date for the Creation is one minute past midnight on October 23, 4004 BC, I thought everybody knew that!

  55. Lionell Griffith says:

    Adrian: At best, only one religion can be right.

    Which one is right and how would you know? Just as new reports are insufficient evidence so also are ancient reports. Especially the multiply transliterated ancient sacred texts that many religions rely upon for their version of “truth”.

    We need a first hand objectively existent object that can be subjected to detailed examination. Then we must find that the object actually has the properties believed in by the religion’s followers. To date, no such object has been provided. It is reports of reports n times removed all the way down. Not even in the proximity of being good enough.

    You are welcome to believe as you wish and to receive whatever you think you get out of it. Just leave me out of it and especially don’t expect me to pay for it.

  56. E.M.Smith says:

    @Cat:

    No no NO!

    It was created in 5005 B.C. when the deluge ended!!! Remember there are dry riverbeds in the Sahara from it!

    ;-)

    @all:

    Seriously, though, one could call all Science “False Science” since it gets lots of stuff wrong at times… Plate Tectonics was considered heretical not that long ago, therefore Science is “false” by that reasoning…

    Religions mostly try to answer the mystery parts of life. So does Philosophy. Is one branch of philosophy false because another exists? Does rationalism falsify existentialism?

    What, scientifically, creates gravity? Don’t give me your belief in a theory, show me the mechanism. Put it on the table. Can’t? Oh, then maybe God made it. We have the same evidence for both theories… none.

    There is a reason everyone gets a Ph.D. as in Philosophy Doctorate (teacher of philosophy). Because ALL of Science rests on top of Philosophy as the foundation. Since Philosophy can not be proven neither can anything else. (If there is no objective reality and this is just an imagined “reality” then the “science” in it is also imaginary. As one example problem. To speak of one objective reality is to ASSUME a given philosophy…)

    Given that, assuming a God causes gravity is as valid as imagining a space time warp from some unseen particles made of condensed energy that is also unseen. Occam’s Razor would even hold the God theory of superior simplicity. Only one imagined postulate instead of several. Might not be as useful, then again, Newton seemed to do OK using God created gravity…

    Thus my reticence to embrace any one assumption set over another. For even Science is rooted in “Given these conclusions, what assumptions can we draw?”

  57. pouncer says:

    With regard to the one true way …

    We all lived through an interesting period in the past two decades when the U.S. broadcast television licensing system and standard NTSC was phased out and digital ATSC standards, and licenses, were developed, bid out, and sold.

    This could have been a real nightmare. It could, for instance, have been a decision by the Clinton FCC to impose standards and deadlines. Instead, Congress wrangled and compromised, and put out a target date, which they later let slip by amending legislation. The FCC watched as technology duked out the advantages of 720p vs 1080i vs 1080p … and now various forms of 4K. The physical connectors went from DVI to HDMI with a few other options… Some stations discovered their control of the airwaves would let them fill four or five “channels” with programming at a lesser resolution instead of (as Congress seemed to intend) one to three “channels” with high-def programming.

    To my way of thinking, the very best thing about this particular transition is how little, and how lightly, the Federal Government attempted to direct the changeover. Broadcasting is very definitely a textbook example of non-rivalous, natural-monopoly, use of the resource “spectrum”. It HAD to be regulated. But the regulations did NOT have to pin down everything. And they didn’t. And we all have MUCH better TVs and broadcast station options, now, than in 1997.

    Including some stations that broadcast full time Evangelical sermons and hymn sings.

    Anyhow, “broadcast” as a concept is rather fading as streaming internet allows “narrow-casting”. But there are, I think, lessons in our recent history to be considered. And so I elevate this example for the feedback of the party here.

  58. Larry Ledwick says:

    At best, only one religion can be right. That means the majority of the world are following a false religion. Is there an explanation that makes this problem go away?

    You are making an implicit assumption that there is only one road to Rome!

    What if each traveler needs to follow a path that suits their needs?
    It is equally possible that all religions are correct, and that each devout member of each church will arrive at the same destination but by different paths.

  59. jim2 says:

    On the “only one” statement, I’m reminded of the blind men and the elephant. I personally am not religious. However, the Christian religion is intermingled in the currents of my Caucasian culture, so it still means something to me. I go to a service from time to time to ponder the traditions and pomp produced by my ancestors.

    On a side, but related, note; in the 60’s many young people resented religion due to the strong social pressure to conform to a moral code. Many of us didn’t like having social buttinski’s in our lives. Now, some of those selfsame people want to tell the rest of us how to live our lives, down to putting electronic do-dads in our recycle bin to rat us out if we don’t play by their socialist rules. The irony bites!

  60. ENS,
    I found your reply very well written ans containing a number of quite subtle truths. Tidy mind indeed.

    I agree that high IQ doesn’t mean the owner is not an idiot is some other ways and is by no means the whole answer. Common sense, perseverance and morality are equally important. I phrased it badly if I gave the impression I was after high IQ. What is important is that the IQ is not too low, in which case the other things are probably missing too.

    Darwinian evolution still has some gaps but is basically right. It doesn’t attempt to explain the origin of life and neither does it really explain “sports”, the major changes that sometimes happen. I don’t see any evidence for divine intervention though, just that it is not yet explained. Creationism is like magic and doesn’t help learning to understand it all. So is the idea of intelligent life from elsewhere without some proof of it. Not that it is impossible but we don’t have the physics to explain how it might be possible. So, There is no point in getting excited about it, wait and see.
    If one takes the Bible literally there are all sorts of problems besides the date of the universe. So it seems silly to do so. If you don’t know why make up things? Before science it made sense to speculate on the date but not afterwards.

    About the voting public. They don’t seem to know what is going on and seem to vote on the hot button issues mentioned before rather than what is good for the country and themselves. What is important with a leader is character. There is little danger in bright people voting, the danger is having a warped, bright leader. Seems to me bight voters are more likely to avoid that. The plebs are unduly influenced by the MSM, run by the by rich, and influenced by advertising money from rich donors in the elections.

  61. EMS. “An entire religion is not “wrong” just because some detail is “wrong” (or worse, not in agreement with another in some trivial detail). Only that one idea is “wrong”.

    The only commonality is that one has to believe in a God. Not believing in some “detail” is a sin and most religions have gone to war over them in the past. So yes, all religions but one must be wrong.

    I’d settle for the simple “Do unto others what you would have them do to you.”
    Forget about the details that make the various religions different. There would be far fewer wars that way.

  62. pouncer,
    There is logic to the different map projections and you can always look at a globe.

  63. catweazle666 “Adrian, please tell me you aren’t a shareholder in Rossi’s E-Cat.”

    Rossi has never taken money from the public. As far as I know no one but Rossi’s family own shares in the com[any. Not the typical action for fraud is it?

  64. gallopingcamel says:

    @Adrian Ashfield:
    “They let pass that what Congress is actually doing is working for the rich.”

    You have exactly defined the purpose of Congress. They work for the “Donor Class” (aka the rich). Even with Trump as president the rich will still benefit. However, with Trump as our leader you will also see the working poor benefit from a surge in employment and pay rates that has not been seen since Reagan.

    While Evangelicals are strongly for Trump they are not his “base”. I like to think my buddies in the VRWC (Vast Right Wing Conspiracy) are his “base”. Our numbers are made up mostly of ex-military, a bunch of pharmacists plus some Duke university physicians and professors. We meet every Friday at 0900 at the Bob Evans on I-40 and 15-501. Please feel free to drop in and enjoy a stimulating discussion..

  65. gallopingcamel says:

    @Adrian Ashfield,
    I took the trouble to read your feature in the Delco Times and found a lot to like. I am an octogenarian engineer/physicist who still teaches quantum electro-optics on a part time basis.

    I was the project manager for the Duke HIGS project. This machine uses Inverse Compton Scattering to create the world’s brightest gamma ray beam:
    http://www.tunl.duke.edu/web.tunl.2011a.higs.php

    While I am not a nuclear physicist I am trained in radiation safety and served on the Duke University Radiation Safety Committee for many years.

    Like you, our fearless leader (Chiefio) is a fan of Rossi’s LENR. While I defer to Chiefio’s wit and wisdom on most matters he is flat out wrong about LENR in general and Andrea Rossi in particular. Here is a link to something I wrote a while back:
    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/can-a-definition-shuffle-steal-cold-fusion/#comment-18535

    That was six years ago and then I found (co-incidence is strange!) that Rossi has an office in the same building as my investment advisor (Ric Edelman, 7900 Glades Road, Boca Raton). I tried several times to contact the elusive Rossi without success but was able to obtain information on his real estate holdings in Florida. It seems likely that much of the money he scammed from investors has been invested in real estate.

    Rossi’s Nickel Hydrogen fusion is no more credible than my PAR (Proton Annihilation Rocket):
    https://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/bussard-revisited/

  66. Adrian Ashfield – your posts are often thought-provoking, but as regards Rossi it seems your hope that he will deliver on his promises outweighs the strong evidence that he’s repeatedly lied about his “technology” and that the methods he espouses for measurement seem expressly designed to produce erroneous results. Anyone with experience in physics and in how to measure heat should reject his data as simply wrong. There is indeed strong evidence that Pd/D will produce excess heat far in excess of what is chemically possible and also ash that cannot be otherwise interpreted as nuclear (Helium produced and the excess heat are correlated). There is somewhat weaker evidence that Ni/H will produce excess heat. GC’s point about “no gammas and no neutrons” is not relevant since nuclear reactions with multi-body reactions do not necessarily have the same pathways available for energy release as the two-body reactions in a plasma – here we need to look at the experimental results and not insist that our theories are perfect. I recognise GC’s expertise in plasma physics, but this is not plasma physics.

    For Rossi’s QX device, you should note that the actual input to the device was not measured (only the power dissipated in the sense resistor was in fact shown, and the voltage across the QX was not measured) and that the power-supply was stated at 60W with cooling (or as 50W with 10W of cooling fan). I work with plasmas pretty often at the moment, and achieving tens of watts at a few milliamps is pretty easy to achieve. I thus see the “demonstration of COP>500” as showing nothing out of the ordinary, and I’m surprised at the number of people who seem to be fooled by it.

    If you still think the Doral test showed real excess energy, you need to consider where that 1MW would actually go to, since energy is conserved. While it was in the realm of “unknown nuclear reaction” then some leeway should be allowed, but the Doral test dealt mainly with steam heat where we have centuries of experience to call on. That amount of heat, over around a year, would have left a very wide evidence trail of where it went. That evidence does not exist, and therefore the heat also did not exist. Note also that Rossi has abandoned this idea, which was (by his data) ready for manufacture and selling. Instead, he has gone from 1MW to a 20W device that will be manufactured in a few years – but then 20W does not leave such an obvious lack of evidence for where it went.

    It’s time to recognise that Rossi will not deliver, since he can’t. He’s clever, but only in fooling people. Such scams have happened before, of course, and people have lost a lot of money on them. To this day there are people who accept that John Worral Keely had a working technology and try to replicate it, whereas when he died the hidden air-pumps were exposed in his workshop. Look it up. Also read the court evidence in Rossi v Darden in Abd’s blog at http://coldfusioncommunity.net/rossi-v-darden-docket-and-case-files/ where Rossi’s lies are exposed. Takes a while… Abd may be doing an article soon where he pinpoints the discrepancies in Rossi’s testimony which will save others going through the rather-large amount of data.

    For myself, I look at what Rossi has measured and look at whether the methods are valid and whether the collected data hangs together logically. The methods are invalid and the data doesn’t hang together, so the claims are unsupported. The Penon report is obviously not real data if you look at it as someone who has actually collected data – it’s obviously fudged and cannot be true. Don’t forget that here we’re dealing with steam heating, where a pressure difference is necessary to drive the steam around the system.

    Where there is no evidence, then we can’t show that any belief is right or wrong. That applies to Big Bang theory, Darwinism, Creationism, etc. – we make the best guess but as new evidence turns up then we should be prepared to ditch ideas where that new evidence points in a different direction. For Rossi, the evidence is however very strong that he’s been fooling people all along (and it’s possible he’s also fooled himself early on, but by now he knows it doesn’t work but is enjoying the game and is making too much money to stop).

  67. pouncer says:

    “You can always look at a globe.”

    Here be dragons?

    On what basis do you trust that the (or any) map-makers are honestly collecting the best information they have and presenting it as well as possible — or that the information available meets your current needs? Or that as a casual user, one is correctly interpreting a technical notation or jargon correctly?

    The Flat Earth concept enshrined in the US Articles of Confederation and Northwest Ordinance specified the “sections” of new territories to be laid out in fashion still evident in the 21st century. Literally from outer space. Photographs reveal North American acreage of different colors bounded by sharp North South, East West lines based on farms and ranches divided by government roads, owned by different users, and so put to different uses. Whole STATES like Kansas or Colorado are rectangles or squares because, after all, the Earth is flat. (Kansas more so than Colorado, but still…) Or near enough flat for the purposes intended — “Close enough for government work.”

    It is in our nature to arrive at times and places where the maps (or other mental models) break down, and require adjustments. The NorthSouth section roads “jog” a bit east and west as they progress. Our host is considering how triangular or hexagonal grids might suit his purposes more effectively than rectangles. And we dispute how well the 1930s concepts of public utilities and location/user “neutral” experiences of communication suit our needs at present. To mash up Shakespeare and George Box: Some models are born wrong, some achieve wrongness, and some have their wrongness thrust into view after a long period of widespread use.

    It is parochial and privileged to easily assume, and accuse, those who use a different model than you of being ignorant. Perhaps it is so, but perhaps they are dealing with different problems than you do, or have other priorities than, say, determining the age and shape of the planet.

  68. Larry Ledwick says:

    It also depends a bit on how you define wrong.

    The township range system of survey PLSS – Public Lands Survey System (George Washington was a surveyor after all) was an eminently practical system for local land owners and developers. It was never intended to be “correct” in a spherical world sense, it was designed as a practical easily understood system for land survey of large areas which in time would be broken up into smaller plots.

    The sections were all nominally 640 acres (one square mile) in dimension in an array of 36 sections with the error between flat geometry and spherical geometry taken up on the edge boundary sections of that larger grid. The sections were numbered in grids (towships / ranges) numerated by their distance from the prime meridian for that survey and the base line for that survey, starting at the upper right corner of the grid and then progressively down the grid in a zig zag.

    http://www.jsu.edu/dept/geography/mhill/phygeogone/trprac.html
    http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/forestmanagement/documents/plsstutorial.pdf

    For rural land owners, this was a very simple and easily used system. The section roads were all placed along the boundaries of the sections approximately 1 mile apart. In the City of Denver and surrounding area, many of the major thoroughfares started on those section roads and you can easily see that they are approximately 1 mile apart in many parts of the city which was surveyed before the 1960’s and 1970’s. In later years when land developers started laying out subdivisions in incomprehensible blobs of housed on cul-de-sacs, circles, lanes and drives which weaved all over the terrain so they could squeeze 2 extra salable lots out of a subdivision you lose that orthogonal organization and end up with neighborhoods which take you months to learn where things are relative to each other and the easiest way to get there, especially at night.

    This system is only broken if you are trying to use it for a use it was never intended to fill.

  69. @GC,
    Thank you for your kind words. I reached 84 today.

    You claim Chiefio is flat out wrong about LENR and Rossi. You are not alone. The hot fusion physicists claimed Fleischmann and Pons Pd/D LENR didn’t work because they were still alive. They were wrong because for what ever reason LENR does not produce a lot of radiation but certainly works.

    The critics share the common idea that that Rossi has nothing because he will not provide sufficient detail for others to replicate his reactors. Why should he? He doesn’t owe them anything.
    I’m not going to go through the earlier E-Cats as that would take far too long, but consider the QX. As I wrote, the Nov 24th demo didn’t provide scientific proof it worked but only the general properties of the reactor. But as I pointed out, it would be simple to actually prove the performance with a couple of further measurements and that is something any investor would do before parting with money. Rossi claims to now have investors to build the automated production lines so I assume someone has done that.

    What would be the point of the demo and claim of building a factory if it doesn’t work? He is not looking for money from the public and you couldn’t invest in it even if you wanted to. It seems to me the critics are claiming it doesn’t work with less proof than that it does. I know nothing about dusty plasmas and am quite content to wait for further information. A lot of technical people have watched E-Cats working and only Krivit has expressed doubts. Why would the distant armchair critics know more than those that were there?

  70. Simon Derricutt,
    We all know the power pack was inefficient, it was no secret. You are confusing the purpose of the demo that was to show the properties of the QX (run at 30%) and attract investors for building the factory. AS previously stated, it would be simple for an investor dong due diligence to prove or disprove it worked and Rossi couldn’t make that data public without giving away the waveforms necessary to make it work.

  71. pouncer says:

    Larry reports: “In the City of Denver [ Pouncer intrudes, in one of the “square states” ] and surrounding area, many of the major thoroughfares started on those section roads and you can easily see that they are approximately 1 mile apart in many parts of the city which was surveyed before the 1960’s and 1970’s. In later years when land developers started laying out subdivisions in incomprehensible blobs of housed on cul-de-sacs, circles, lanes and drives which weaved all over the terrain so they could squeeze 2 extra salable lots out of a subdivision you lose that orthogonal organization and end up with neighborhoods which take you months to learn where things are relative to each other and the easiest way to get there, especially at night.”

    Plots and plats by Satan himself, in my opinion. But then, I grew up in Kansas…

    At present from Dallas Texas, one can view the maps and see the historical progress of what I would call civilization from East to West as the roadmaps are laid out (in the Texas view of “far” East) along trails used by Indians and cattle drovers, main roads in the “middle East or south East” surveyed by the French and Spanish, until FINALLY our forefathers imposed order upon topography in Fort Worth and points (and the grid upon which points reside) to the West.

    It’s so incredibly useful a system and scales so well for so many purposes that if it was not, in point of fact, ordained by God it might as well have been. By this I do not mean to say the related, but different, system around Salt Lake City (The “Plat of Zion” doctrine) was not also bestowed upon a chosen faithful by a benevolent deity, or likewise afford many uses at a variety of scales appropriate to the lives of “pioneers”. The most generous Giver considers the needs and tastes of the recipients when bestowing heirlooms and treasures, after all. One size does not fit all. But it seems to be the case that stewardship of the planet doesn’t require mastery of non-Euclidean geometry, either.

  72. E.M.Smith says:

    A few folks seem to think they know what is inside my head…

    I am NOT a cheerleader for Rossi, nor do I claim his device works.

    I DO hope it works, but reserve judgment until, as I have said before, I can buy one on the open market. There is plenty of theoretical grounds to support the idea of workable LENR, and plenty of folks who have replicated working reactors (generally at too low a power to prove LENR beyond any doubt) so “hopeful waiting” is a reasonable position to take.

    But hope does not mean endorsement nor support.

    Rossi could be a classical con man, or saviour of the planet. Only time will tell. When he did the install of the commercial sized one, I thought we had reached that time. That nothing came of it in terms of more sales is more indicative of failure than success; however running off to court can stop sales plans… Also, heat dumping from a MW reactor is trivial… if you only run it for a fractional second… We need to know the MW-hr/hour to know the heat dump problem size… I haven’t cared enough to find out if that info exists… (not that enthusiastic about Rossi, I guess…)

    Rossi might well have found instabilities that made it less than industrial strength and not “G.I. proof” and realized disclosure of secret I.P. in a patent or sales would let others make it “right” and bypass his rights with a new patent. So gritted his teeth and set about polishing the next better “best version” instead. Or he could just be stretching the con. I don’t know which and can’t know until public availability of product. So I wait….

    Hopefully waiting…. Suspiciously wating… Curiously waiting… But only waiting. Not endorsing, but also not claiming fraud in the absence of proof.

    Do I think he has solved LENR? Maybe. Not “yes” and not “no”, just enough evidence to see how it COULD be true, maybe.

  73. EMS,
    That is pretty much how I feel too. I think the balance of evidence is in Rossi’s favor but proof is lacking. Why run the man down with ad hominems? Just wait and see.

  74. gallopingcamel says:

    @Simon Derricutt,
    There are several possible nuclear reactions between a proton and different Nickel isotopes. These reactions should produce Copper and gamma rays with energies ranging from 2 to 11 MeV. I concede that some physicists believe the energy could be emitted as less energetic photons. For example Nobel prize winner Brian Josephson:
    https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-pty-pty_maps&hsimp=yhs-pty_maps&hspart=pty&p=%22Brian+Josephson%22+video#id=4&vid=76f7f8e37eb9d909854cf52fe18244f8&action=click

    Even conceding your point the detection of the Copper produced would be trivial using a mass spectrograph but Rossi has not (to my knowledge) presented evidence of that kind.

    Rossi is a scammer who has bamboozled many gullible folks including “Industrial Heat”:
    http://freeenergyscams.com/industrial-heat-llc-vs-andrea-rossi-the-don-corleone-of-free-energy/

    My apologies to Chiefio for misunderstanding his position. Like Chiefio I wanted Fleishman and Pons to be vindicated. Likewise I really hope mankind will find a safe and effective LENR and a practical matter annihilation process (like my Proton Annihilation Rocket).

    The problem is Rossi…….not the idea of LENRs.

  75. GC – it’s almost certain that Rossi’s “spent fuel samples” containing Nickel and Copper were in fact mixed by him from bought-in powders, since the particles were either Nickel or Copper (with no cupro-nickel alloys) and the Copper was in the normal isotopic ratios. If you want the analysis on that, I lost where I stashed the link (quite a few years ago) so would have to go hunt. However, pretty-well a slam-dunk that the spent fuel hadn’t undergone any nuclear transformation. A later “leaked” spent fuel sample analysis showed 62Ni in high concentration, leaving the Rossi followers trying to work out why this isotope was produced. Around that time I lost any hope that Rossi was telling the truth. During the Doral test I wasn’t much interested, since I didn’t expect it to be well-done, and only got back into the discussion in order to show where the evidence was obviously false. Rossi said on oath in evidence to the court that he had installed a heat-exchanger to dump the 1MW of heat, yet since this would have been obvious to any visitors and passers-by, not to mention very noisy and with an unmissable heat-plume, no-one saw it during the year. Anyone who lies that baldly can’t be trusted, especially when we look at the QX where the only thing to say it works is Rossi’s assertions (since the measurements are worth squat and the power-supply was more than big enough to supply the output heat).

    On the gamma and neutron emissions, I can only point to the conditions of the reaction being different to what we are used to, and that in the LENR environment there may be paths that don’t need to emit them since the energy can be dispersed more easily in other ways and the momentum can be absorbed by more particles – this isn’t a two-body reaction with a single energy-well but a many-body reaction with periodic energy wells. The Miles experiment that correlates heat and Helium production is hard to discount as some unknown systematic error that skewed both the heat measurements and the (double-blinded) Helium measurements so that they correlated. Experimentally, therefore, the lack of gammas and neutrons is shown, and we need to adjust the theory to account for those results. Not easy, and so far people are still scratching their heads as to how it happens.

    I agree Rossi is the problem here, but unfortunately he’s normally getting the most attention. His supporters ignore the problem that his explanations don’t hang together when you look at the whole, and that he’s lied under oath in the Rossi v Darden case. I also hope we’ll find a way of getting LENR, but it won’t be Rossi who does that. By lying about his process he’s sent people down the wrong path and wasted their time and money. Even now, he’s wasting more time in us discussing him, since it is almost certain it was a scam from the start. Since Rossi did not make any actual provisions for getting rid of that 1MW of heat at Doral, he didn’t expect to have to – he knew then that it wouldn’t actually work, and just fudged the readings.

    I see the F+P type of LENR by electrolysis of Pd/D as being proven beyond reasonable doubt, and at this moment there is a replication in progress of the Miles experiment in Austin, Texas, to try to get the heat/Helium ratio more-accurately and with attention to possible systematic errors. Ni/H is still a bit iffy as to whether it’s provably been shown, with repeatability being a big problem. I’m reasonably sure it can happen, but getting the conditions right seems extremely difficult. Even with Pd/D it’s a very difficult experiment to get right.

    Still, I recall a sci-fi story I read a long time back (though I can’t remember title or author after around 4 decades) where a group of scientists were gathered by the government and shown a video of a young man flying an antigravity machine, which then exploded killing the inventor and losing the knowledge of how it was done. The scientists were thus convinced that it was possible to do it, and ended up making one that did actually work though not as compact or manoeuvrable as the one they’d seen on the official video. Since they’d proved it was possible, the government agents then introduced them to the original “inventor” who hadn’t in fact died and was an actor. It was a government scam all the time, convincing the scientists that what they thought was impossible was in fact possible, so they did It. Maybe Rossi’s followers may come up with something that actually works….

  76. gallopingcamel says:

    One of the problems of growing old is the way memory plays tricks on you. This thread was giving me a “deja vu” feeling and thanks to the durable qualities of the Internet I found that Adrian and I have had this discussion at least once before:
    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/lenr-lanr-cold-fusion-you-can-trust/

    In an attempt to introduce something new to this tired old discussion let’s look at the mass to energy conversion efficiencies related to various processes:

    Digesting sucrose (e.g. a candy bar)………….8.9 X 10-9%
    Burning coal………………………………………….27.8 X 10-9%
    Burning oil…………………………………………….51.6 X 10-9%
    Nickel Hydrogen fusion…………………………..16.9 X 10-3%
    U235 fission……………………………………………0.08%
    Hydrogen to Helium fusion……………………….0.70%
    Spinning black hole…………………………………29.0%
    Sphaleron…………………………………………….>50.0%
    Matter annihilation…………………………………100.0%

    So what is a Sphaleron? It may be possible to convert three Baryons into three anti-Leptons. That would come very close to matter annihilation given that some Baryons (e.g. Neutrons & Protons) have 1,840 times the mass of Leptons (electrons & anti-electrons). When it comes to physics there is much more to be discovered!

  77. E.M.Smith says:

    @Simon:

    I remember that story! From about 1960 …

    BTW, I ran a site that dissapated 3/4 MW-hr per hour…. used a 16 x 16 foot water tower… OTOH, it was fed by a hot water line below boiling that was only 4 inches… so a heat exchanger to a water dump to the sewer would be easy to build, hard to see, but with a big water bill… then again, in many parts of Florida, drill a shallow hole and you get unlimited water….

    Do we know the claimed heat dump was not to ground water?

    If it was claimed to be via air, that’s very unlikely in less than a 100 foot run of blowers…

  78. gallopingcamel says:

    Given that I regard Rossi as a scammer I have not spent much time reading publications relating to E-Cat.

    Consider this. Natural Nickel contains ~68% Ni58 so nuclear fusion reactions that add a neutron would create Cu 59 that would beta decay with a half life of 118 seconds into Ni59 with a half life of 79,000 years. Ni59 decays into Co59 rather than an isotope of Copper. Has anyone looked for Cobalt in the “Spent Fuel”?

  79. GC – IIRC no Cobalt was noticed in the “spent fuel”. Then again, the grains were either Nickel or Copper, with no mixtures as you would expect if there had been any transmutation. You’ve probably saved wasting a lot of time in not bothering to follow the Rossi story…. Thanks for the link to EM’s previous ruminations on this, and it’s notable that the idea of using lasers has been done by Leif Holmlid with claimed success.

    EM – there’s a statutory maximum temperature of 70°C that can be put into the sewers. Based on this, the water consumption of that single warehouse would have been equivalent to over 5000 local houses and there was a 1.5″ main water supply that would not have been able to deliver that much water. Since the claimed 1MW was 24/7 (with some spells of a claimed 0.75MW and a few at 0.5MW) then the ground above the drains would have become noticeably hot and the grass would have died along the route of the drains. IH seem to have done an IR survey, and no heat-plumes or traces of heat along the drains were seen. There was no mention of digging a borehole to get cooling water, or indeed any evidence of how 1MW would have been dissipated (and it would need to have been in order that the warehouse did not reach lethal temperatures). The claimed heat simply wasn’t there.
    That sci-fi story is probably the underlying reason I support the people who are trying to “replicate” Rossi when they don’t actually know what he’s doing. They’re applying what is probably a deeper knowledge of properties of materials than Rossi has and collecting ideas that are circulating on the net, and might actually succeed where Rossi is faking it. One thing that may be critical is mentioned “in passing” in the March 2016 article GC pointed at (https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/lenr-lanr-cold-fusion-you-can-trust/#comment-67309 ), that Periodic Table 1 and 2 elements don’t produce the magnetic ordering, and we know from P+F experiments that touching the prepared cathodes will stop them working. Fingerprints dump Na and K on the surface, and this seems to stop them producing excess heat. Could be a reason why it’s such a difficult reaction to replicate, given that even breathing on something will produce some Na and K contamination and extreme precautions are needed to avoid it. We know from semiconductor manufacturing that even parts per million impurities can have dramatic effects, and the same may apply in LENR.

    There’s enough experimental evidence that something nuclear can happen at relatively low energy levels that research is warranted. We don’t know if this will need new physics or just a re-appraisal of the stuff we already know. I expect it will be understood at some point, but it’s somewhat difficult to predict when.

  80. Addendum to the “statutory maximum of 70°C that can be put into the sewers” in Florida…. It’s also a practical maximum, since they use PVC pipes and the pipes would collapse when subjected to significantly higher temperatures. That would have been even more noticeable. It’s very hard to dissipate 1MW without leaving a big trail of evidence. I’d say impossible, but of course there’s radiation at around the 10 micron wavelength IR and dumping it to space through the clear window in the atmosphere at that wavelength. Still, the kit to do that would have been noticeable, too.

  81. Gail Combs says:

    Thanks for the Christmas Present E.M. (I send people here for quicky courses in economics and now I can add a new one to the ones I already have.)

    In return ,Merry Christmas from my farm.
    A Christmas greeting from the goats.

    We Wish You A Merry Christmas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcI6FIpd0CA
    Reply

    P. S. You might want to cover ‘The Multiplier Effect Money’ (Why it is important for money to stay within a community/country) and Velocity of Money.

    The Multiplier Effect is why a transnational Big Box Store moving into a small town is BAD news. By driving locals out of business there is a cascading effect. Especially if it is selling Chinese made crap.

  82. gallopingcamel says:

    From my fish farming days I seem to recall that a 1.5″ pipe can deliver at best 50 gpm. With a thermal input of 1 MW the Delta T would be about 76 Centigrade. Assuming an input water temperature of 15 Centigrade the output water would be close to boiling.

  83. GC, Thanks for the link to our earlier discussion. I don’t keep track of them and had forgotten about it.
    I read about Bussard in the 1960s and was later mildly optimistic about the Polywell. I think the idea has merit and I’m sorry it has not been funded enough to attempt a working prototype.

    I wish you would quit calling Rossi a fraud, for which you have no proof. It serves no useful purpose and you may live to regret it.

  84. E.M.Smith says:

    @CDQuarles & Lionell:

    I “get it” that there is “always competition”, in fact, the basis of the Monopoly As Evil theory is that while there IS competition, it becomes ineffective competition. The details await another posting (as I need to make / find some illustrative graphs and my graphics skills on a computer are a bit primitive). Unfortunately, much of economics is best explained with graphs.

    The “shorthand” word graph is that in a Monopoly, the Monopolist faces a downward sloping demand curve and has marginal cost and average cost curves that cover most of the market demand. They have “first mover” advantage AND “fattest wallet” (my term) advantage. As soon as ONE competitor enters the market and captures a majority of it, their average cost curve lets them capture ALL of it. At that point, no other competitor can be effective since they will have a very high average cost curve starting point (at the lower end of the volume range).

    Worse happens when you allow that Monopolist (or Oligopolist where a couple of average cost curves fit inside the downward sloping demand curve, but not “many”) to indulge in “anti-competitive practices”. Things we would class as “unfair” or “evil”. Things like intimidating ALL the available transport into not transporting the competing product and buying ALL the input materials needed for the product. (Those were done at times in the past…) with threats to the providers that you would ruin them if they didn’t do your bidding. I.e. bribery, intimidation, and coercion. Essentially what we see in the Drug Lord Wars today (think Mexico and murders in the night as the ultimate end game).

    So yeah, others are “free to compete”, and be destroyed when they try…

    Again, NOT hypothetical. This is economic history.

    Also note that you tend to end up with a Consortium that runs everything. Call it a Keiretsu or a Conglomerate or The Mafia or whatever. It is like the game of GO. Once you have “safe eyes” you can build out from it and destroy competition in other markets (even those that ought to be an Oligopoly or even a competitive market) with overwhelming power. IF that’s the world in which you wish to live, by all means embrace the pipe dream of “free competition in all things” and do not believe that monopoly power is evil…

    So sure, you are quite free to open your own water services company in Los Angeles. Good luck finding a water supply that isn’t already in the hands of the dominant player. Good luck finding ways to transport water to the homes. (Even if allowed by governments, you would find it hard to hire workers, buy pipeline, get lines built… as the Monopolist would crush you at every turn). Also expect that if you managed to, say, get a subdivision to sign up at your price of $50 / mo. you would find yourself looking at a predatory price from the Monopolist of $5 / month held until you are bankrupt, then they would buy your facilities for pennies. (Again, history, not theoretical, and the reason predatory pricing is illegal).

    We’ve seen where this leads. To an empire of a few incredibly rich families who own the government. (Think Roman Empire, British Empire with Royal Privileged industries, etc.) And pretty much everyone else a peasant or slave with the exception of a few in the Peerage / Senate / Generals who get a nice fat payoff to keep everyone else in line.

    But hey, I’m sure as a Roman Slave you can go start a water company and “compete” with the aqueduct…

    Libertarians (of which I am, mostly, one) have a few great fantasies and many good truths. Unfortunately, the embrace of the perfection of the “free market” with zero regulation is one of the fantasies. Markets need a referee to keep the game fair and stop (or punish) cheaters. Otherwise you end up with a lot of broken legs, kneecapped players, and folks missing hands (or heads)… Literally or economically, depending on the stage of play…

  85. pouncer says:

    “others are ‘free to compete’, and be destroyed when they try ”

    Or merged or acquired.

    I have heard there is a wrinkle in the US tax code that (no doubt unintentionally) favors the monopolist in the following fashion. I’d be pleased to learn my knowledge is incorrect or obsolete. But if I lay it out then we might figure it out.

    Suppose I’m top dog in my market and have piled up a big stash of assets on the books. My nearest competitor is struggling. The end of the year approaches. If I realize my advantages as cash profit or dividends to shareholders or bonuses to employees or whatever, there are taxes due. Even if I re-invest my assets in my own operation, hire more people, buy more raw material, whatever, there are taxes to worry about. But if I approach my competitor and buy HIS operation I gain his factory and people and market share and his various liabilities which — if I’ve structured my deal carefully — offset the pile I had accumulated. I am now master of an empire which, to the harvesters, gleaners, and shearers of the tax office, appears to be as yet unripe for their knives.

    Is this so?

  86. E.M.Smith says:

    @Pouncer:

    You mean like this?
    http://www.businessinsider.com/hps-8-billion-write-off-is-really-good-news-in-disguise-2012-8

    HP unleashed a raft of news this morning, but the headliner of the bunch is that it’s taking an $8 billion write down, due to a goodwill impairment on its $13.9 billion EDS acquisition.
    […]
    And ultimately, HP is able to tell investors that these cuts are boosting the bottom line. HP raised the outlook for Q3. Its non-GAAP EPS is $1.00, up from $0.94-$0.97.

    “They raised their guidance. It’s important to note that. What I’ve been wanting to see is stabilization. They raised guidance so it shows their business is stabilizing. They are starting to see benefits from some focus and retrenching,” he says.

    So you buy a competitor, capture their business, lay off some expensive staff and “write down” the parts you wish to destroy to reduce competitive costs (buildings, “good will”, etc) and end up with net increased profits / share, a nice tax write off, and decreased competition.

    Yeah, you can do that….

  87. pouncer says:

    It must be hard for auditors from the IRS or anywhere to correctly appraise the mark up or write down of an asset like “good will”.

    Ross Perot’s EDS is / was a Dallas enterprise so I happen to have a bit of local knowledge of their historical business models. Perot’s teams’ “good will”, “market knowledge” and “expertise” comprised the core of what they were selling. It’s the kind of thing you’ve mentioned in your own tales — they’d notice somebody had a giant machine in use 22 hours a day and somebody else needed a giant machine for use 1 hour per day. EDS would jump in figure out a way to move the owner’s stuff off, load the borrower’s stuff on, and all the reverse, all to be accomplished in the marginal time remaining. They’d charge the owners for finding a paying borrower, charge the borrower for finding a selling provider, and charge both sides, again, for the services in moving bits back and forth. They’d charge for preventing problems arising from crossover and charge for FIXING the problems that slipped through despite the preventive measures.

    California’s HP was considered a direct competitor to another, different, Dallas iconic institution, Texas Instruments. Both firms operating on the hardware side of things. I was a college student in the 1970’s when the calculator wars between HP’s RPN system and TI’s nested parenthetical systems were developing. It appears TI won. Again, my memories are skewed and bias by local perspective. But the TI vs HP chip battles and other fronts on the hardware wars raged for decades on fronts far apart from consumer devices.

    Anyhow, I wouldn’t have bet, in the 90’s, that HP would consider EDS a “competitor”, exactly. On the other hand I wouldn’t have expected EDS to take over and try to sell/lease Sun WorkStations into a market increasingly dedicated to PCs.

    By the way, none of this is intended to argue with or contradict you. I reveal where my wrinkly mind is harder, or more open, is all. Perhaps you, or others in the conversation, might find such information useful.

    But back to the point of government policy affecting monopoly – it seems unwise to me for the government to set up an appraisal or accounting method that encourages mergers and acquistiions –and artificial evaluations of company assets and value — over actual growth or even actual failure. Especially the even weirder mergers in EDS’s history, like in the 80’s when the still active Perot, with his kingdom EDS, was “bought into” Roger Smith’s GM automotive and financial empire. GM very VERY shortly, “bought back out” the vociferous Mr Perot — while keeping EDS. Presumably both such purchases seemed valuable at the time. The whole of things though, giant enterprises “Too Big To Fail” ™ involve companies and partners that don’t really seem to be doing what they were chartered to accomplish, and ARE doing some or many things (different) long after actual market demand has blown away. Bears on bicycles pulling rickshaws. If our political betters have good reasons for encouraging such nonsense it’s not been made clear to me.

  88. Lionell Griffith says:

    EM: Things like intimidating ALL the available transport into not transporting the competing product …

    How can that be done without the threat of or use of force? If paid for, it is not intimidation. It would be very expensive to pay for tall of the transportation industry to exclude all competing products. As far as I am concerned, it is their money so they can go broke trying to do it. However, if it is done by force or threat of force, is that not already illegal and prosecutable by law? I would be a violation of rights including but not limited to extortion, blackmail, or physical battery?

    It looks to me that you are presuming people are thugs by nature and if not constrained by an oppressive and intrusive government, they will act like thugs. If so, would not Government also be filled with thugs. Who is it that constrains them from acting like thugs as they oppress and intrude business people? Especially given the fact they have the power to use guns to enforce their decisions and can take or do what they want if the politicians pass a law that says they can.

    In contrast, a business person does not have the right to use force or threaten to use force. He must provide goods and services with the quantity, quality, and price his costumers are willing to pay. He can’t force the customer to buy anything from him. Neither can his customer force him to sell on any other terms than he is willing to accept. Again, if force is used, this is a legally prosecutable matter. A thug would not survive long in such an environment.

    The built in motivation in business is against being a thug. In Government, the motivation is just the opposite. The Government gets paid with wealth taken by force from those who created it. Hardly anyone in Government has skin in the game except the front line military, police, and related personnel. Hardly anyone in Government is required to produce any positive value for the persons from whom the wealth was taken. Hardly anyone is held directly accountable for what they do. A thug would thrive in such an environment.

    Which would you rather have? A Government controlling every aspect of your life with you having no right of refusal. Or a business person offering you a good or service on terms you can accept or refuse. Then if you refuse, both you and he part company peacefully with no further consequence.

  89. gallopingcamel says:

    @Adrian Ashfield,
    “I wish you would quit calling Rossi a fraud, for which you have no proof. It serves no useful purpose and you may live to regret it.”

    If I am wrong about Rossi it will be a pleasure to admit it. If his “Invention” is real it will transform the world given that 1 tonne of Nickel will produce more heat than 33,000 tonnes of Welsh anthracite. While I have no proof that Rossi is a fraud there is no proof that Donald Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin yet that does not prevent the “Media” from saying it is so. I guess they are entitled to their opinion and I to mine.

    I stumbled onto some interesting information about Rossi’s assets but I don’t have the time or the inclination to do the leg work to build a case against him. Firstly I am not a lawyer and secondly nobody has offered to pay me for the work.

    Over the years I have managed many projects so I know how to deliver what is promised on time and on budget. Rossi keeps making promises but he never delivers. That 1 MW heating device was promised in 2011. Six years later where is it?
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/04/andrea-rossis-e-cat-fusion-device-on-target/

  90. jim2 says:

    pouncer – the NFL might be able to give you a pretty solid figure what “good will” is worth ;)

  91. gallopingcamel says:

    Large organizations conspire with government to fix prices. For example, road freight, garbage collection, cement and much more cost five times more than they should in New York city from the 1960s through to the late 1980s owing to La Cosa Nostra (LCN). Rudi Guiliani and the FBI worked hard to solve this problem and today the LCN is less powerful than it used to be.

    Before you get too complacent there are much worse examples of corruption today in terms of both the degree and the scale. The LCN pumped prices by a factor of two to a factor of ten. Some large companies today pump prices by factors of one hundred or more. Some of the worst offenders are part of an industry that is four times larger than the US military.

    When something costs five or more times what the same thing costs in other countries you can be sure that corruption is influencing the market. Maybe the LCN is knee capping people who try to compete with them. Maybe corrupt bureaucrats at the FDA are closing down companies that try to compete with the companies that are putting their kids through college.

    Take a look at this 2016 report:
    https://www.managedcaremag.com/system/files/storypdfs/MC_1604_or_drugcosts.pdf

    Things have continued to deteriorate since that report was published in April 2016. Take a look at Clobetasol Propionate which is not even close to being the worst example of price gouging:

    Clobetasol Propionate 0.05% ointment, Price review, October 2017, 60 gram tubes
    Vendor
    Walmart (New Hope Commons)……..$249.05
    Walmart (on-line, with coupon)…………$76.14
    Canadian on-line pharmacy……………..$40.00
    Oxford on-line pharmacy (UK)……………$9.99
    Sfarma (Bogota, Colombia)……………….$7.94
    US wholesale price, 2012………………….$0.90

    Active ingredient (Wholesale = $1,250/kg) or $0.0375 per 60 gram tube of ointment

    Questions
    How can something cost 20 to 30 times more in the USA than elsewhere?
    How can all seven FDA approved manufacturers raise prices 100 fold in 5 years?
    How can anyone justify a retail price 6,000 times the active ingredient cost?

  92. Larry Ledwick says:

    Lionell Griffith says:
    25 December 2017 at 3:14 am

    The-men-who-built-America

    All though the rules have changed because of Standard Oil, there are still ways to destroy your competition legally if you are big enough.

    The 6 hour History video series mentioned above gives a very good look at how the robber barons of the industrial revolution did business, and how international corporations still do, but they hide it a bit better than John D. R did.

  93. E.M.Smith says:

    @Lionell:

    You are choosing to “willfully not see”. I can’t help you with that. You also choose to ignore large blocks of information that are standing against your position, then take a minor point and convert it into an Absolute Truth argument. No such thing is possible.

    While slippery debate tactics, they do not lead to enlightenment, so I choose not to play in those games.

    It takes no physical force to coerce or buy up all transport. Read the history. J.D. did it by the simple, and often used, methods of threatening to have their biggest customer walk out on them, or buy them out, or simply collude with them to say he would reward them with more money once the competition was destroyed. I’ll put up a posting on this in a day or two, but not on Christmas Eve.

    Business history is full of “Play ball with me and I’ll make you rich, don’t and I’ll destroy your company” style of ‘negotiations’. Physical force is rarely needed.

    Pacific Lumber is a great case in point. Talked with the (prior) CEO in one of my classes before his (well run and prudent) company was bought out from under him by a rapacious destroyer type (who made it a pariah among the logging community and the greens…). How was it done? The LBO. Put up the company stock of trees (that he didn’t own) as future collateral for the loan to buy up the company shares on the promise to cut every tree possible (thus assuring rapid profits now and a pillaged company later). Money is a great weapon for destruction of value in the right hands.

    J.D. “cut a deal” with the available railroad to shut own rail transport for the competition, then bought up ALL the cooperage for barrels so they could not use trucks and barrels.

    You may want to live in a world where that kind of economic destruction for the “win” is accepted; pretty much everyone else does not. A world where the big can simply crush the small due to having a fatter wallet does not work out well for anyone but the fat wallets of the world. Again: NOT A HYPOTHETICAL. It is Economic HISTORY.

  94. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and watch out for “The perfect as the enemy of the good”.

    You like to put up a strawman that the Government is bad so ought to have no role. That’s using the lack of government perfection to toss out the good it does do (even if flawed).

    The simple fact is that for EVERY Evil Bastard there must be a countervailing Evil Bastard or they will simply run amok and take over the world. Since individual “little guys” are not able to fill that roll, someone (or something) else must do so.

    We’ve tried lots of ways, and not one of them has ever been perfect. Many are far far better than the alternative of The Wild Wild West Economics. The representative democracy is about the best governmental form we’ve been able to dream up (though a toothless monarchy with a publicly elected parliament comes close). Within that, some kind of anti-trust pro-competition law (with legal teeth) and consumer / worker protection apparatus is also needed. In some cases that is a “consumers union”, or a “buyers cooperative”. In other cases a consumer affairs board or bureau of government. Sometimes it is a labor union. Sometimes a labor relations branch of government.

    Feel free to invent a perfect one… but until then, knowing full well that with NO countervailing power, the Evil Bastard with a Fat Wallet will run rampant and destroy the lives of everyone else (bar a few conspirators), I’ll take the Evils Of Government as countervailing power and the labor unions too, for that matter. (Note: I am no fan of labor unions… but sometimes it is the only choice that works to stop death and destruction.)

    Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good is never a good strategy. Yet it looks like that’s yours.

  95. It seems to me that a totally unregulated market always leads to monopolies or cartels where the customers have only the choice of paying the price demanded or of not buying the good or service. Even in a regulated market, there are often hidden collusions that attempt to get into that monopoly position, and people here have noted the problem with pharmaceuticals in the US. Some of those same problems apply in France, where you have to go to a pharmacy to buy anything medical and the supermarkets cannot even sell Aspirin. Real cost of Aspirin is a few cents a kilogram, and in the UK the supermarkets can sell it at around 30 pence per packet. In France, it’s ten times more expensive.

    Wherever there’s a way to achieve some form of monopoly without legal consequences (and people are not above getting the laws fixed to remove any way around it), it will be done. That’s just the way it is, and how people are. An idealistic “truly free” market (which works if everyone maintains high ethics) thus in practice leads to price gouging, robber barons, and the rich getting richer. The communist ideals work in theory (from each according to their capabilities, and to each according to their needs) and even work in practice in small dedicated groups or family units, but fail once everyone is allowed in. “Hippy communes” which start with those ideals tend to work for a few years where they start with just idealistic people, yet always fail once the makers there get too many demands from the takers who are taking it easy and claiming their rights.

    The bare truth is that each person will try to maximise their gain for the time they put into their work. The more power they have to charge more, the more they will charge. Since the people making the laws can be bribed or coerced one way or another, then the only thing that stops corruption is an ethical framework that is particular to a country or locality. In some societies, bribery is simply the way things get done, so getting into a position of power is profitable. I notice that US senators don’t end their careers poor…. Really Evil Bastards will use threats to increase their profits, and Lesser Evil Bastards use collusion and secrecy to achieve more gains for less work.

    About as close to ideal as we can get seems to be where power is balanced and any one group that tries to grab more can be countered by a more-powerful grouping of the other groups. The minimum number of groups thus needs to be 3, though more would be useful. In reality, we see that corruption will always be there and will need to be removed as it gets found out, and that since politicians and laws can be bought then we’re a long way from the ideal. Still, the USA system and the UK system are not as bad as some, and stability is easier to live with than revolution. May not be “fair”, but easier to make plans that can be carried out with a degree of certainty. Maybe the easiest system to live under would be a Benign Dictatorship, where one group has the capability to crush all opposition and yet uses that power carefully and wisely to produce the best living conditions, but of course that benign leader will get replaced at some point and the next one may not be benign, so it’s risky to allow even a benign dictator to achieve power. I see the European Union as an attempt to set up a benign dictatorship (with the best possible intentions, of course) and thus as a dangerous way to go. How well did that go for the USSR?

    The EU ideal of “free movement” is a wonderful idea, but like most ideals has some very real problems in practice. People will move to where they make more profit for their time. If one country has out-of-work benefits significantly better than another, the unemployed will move there since they can, and suddenly you can’t support all those unemployed people with the number of employed. Even within a country, free movement concentrates the people in certain areas – in the UK it’s London and the surrounding area where wages are higher and so is the cost of living, but it’s also where you need to go to get a good choice of employment. A business will find that it’s easier to start up in London since there’s a higher probability of getting the people with the education they need. There’s positive feedback in this loop…. Apply that positive feedback idea to Europe as a whole and you see the poorer countries getting poorer and the richer getting richer. Probably applies in the States too – it would seem silly to start up a chip fab anywhere else than Silicon Valley since you would have to import all the skills. Government finds it difficult to counter such positive feedback.

    Down at the basics, it seems that there are such positive feedbacks built-in to the way we operate society. The bigger a group gets, the more power it has to become bigger still. Once it’s big enough it will control that sector and can (and will) overcharge until it gets knocked down.

  96. Lionell Griffith says:

    EM:
    Apparently individual rights do not matter to you. Voluntary association and mutual agreement are not proper if you don’t like the result. You are quite willing to have a party who’s ONLY vested interest is exercising it’s monopoly power, the Government, to step in and violate the rights of others who are both NOT violating your rights and doing something you don’t like.
    Your so called Economic History is mostly mythology based upon mostly false premises.

    The primary false premise is that the power of persuasion of value traded for value among free individuals is the same kind of power as the power of the gun – brute physical force – where the rights of the forced is irrelevant and the whims of the gun holder determines the outcome or else. Unless and until we can get agreement on that point, no further discussion is of value.

    This is your blog and your property. I shall leave you to your own devices to seek your own end. I have achieved mine. I now know who and what you are.

  97. jim2 says:

    gallopingcamel – I wonder if the higher prices in the US occur because paying customers have to finance medicines and medical care for the non-paying? This is a wink-and-a-nod setup between government and medical providers, accelerated by Obamacare.

  98. jim2 says:

    LG – If you watch The Men Who Built America, you will find that at one point Carnegie, actually one of his brutal henchmen, hired Pinkerton to quell a strike with guns. They shot people.

    While the Robber Barron’s advanced technology and the standard of living, they weren’t the angels you seem to believe they were.

    In my view, individual rights have to be balanced by a more abstract concept embraced by The Founders – distribution of powers. This is why there are three branches of Federal government, and State/Local governments. If Power isn’t distributed among entities, tyrants rise.

  99. gallopingcamel, re calling Rossi a fraud. You wrote: ” I guess they are entitled to their opinion and I to mine.”

    So if I called you a pedophile and in every post referred to you as that pedophile gallopingcamel I wokd be entitled to my opinion?

  100. EMS,
    One of the best examples of the damage done by predatory takeovers is described in the book “Glass House.” Not only did it destroy the company it also destroyed the city of Lancaster in which the company was based. Lancaster had previously been described as the ideal town in America.

    See https://www.amazon.com/Glass-House-Economy-Shattering-All-American-ebook/dp/B01IN8ZX7A/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1514215624&sr=8-2&keywords=book+%22Glass+House%22#customerReviews

  101. PS. Scroll up from the given link to see the many reviews

  102. Gail Combs says:

    E.M. says “So yeah, others are “free to compete”, and be destroyed when they try… “

    This was the threat against Donald Trump. The owners of the Democrat and Republican parties planned to completely destroy him and his family for having the audacity to run for president without their blessing. The ‘Russian collusion’ crap was the means to destruction.

  103. Gail Combs says:

    Lionell “How can that be done without the threat of or use of force?

    Actually I saw an example of that years ago. It was in the food industry. They allowed the start-up to get committed and then hired/intimidated ALL the transpo. The start-up was left with warehouses full of grain, contracts to fill and no Transpo. The guy making the comment, one of the partners, was in a bar and a stranger sat down and essentially told him to get the f…k out of the business or next time they would not be so ‘nice’

    So yes it happens and it happens NOW. I have seen it happen to four of the small independent feed & tack shops I used to frequent. Tractor Supply or Southern States moves in. Advertizes very low prices. Bankrupts the little guy. Once the competition is gone they jack the prices ABOVE the surrounding area to make up the loss.

  104. Adrian Ashfield – I can only assume that you do not have practical experience with how to measure things, since those that do will see problems with Rossi’s methods of measurement. Since Rossi first came to my notice in 2011, none of his public demos have sufficiently-good measurements to definitely show any gain. The null hypothesis, of COP = 1, is within the margin of error for all of them. As I’ve said here, Rossi didn’t make any preparations to be able to dissipate 1MW in Doral, and so he didn’t expect to need to deal with it. Therefore he knew beforehand that it wouldn’t work and that it was fraudulent. People may be more impressed with a headline of 1MW as a power output, but you simply can’t hide that level of power if it’s there.

    I’ve been looking at various frauds, mainly in Free Energy but at heart anything related to cheap energy, for quite a few years now. Until Doral, it was uncertain that Rossi was a fraud, but that test made it certain.

    I recognise the hope that Rossi has brought, but that’s all that it is. There’s no substance. He based it on something that has some truth, but is not telling the truth. He’ll be playing with the QX for another year or two and then drop it like the previous devices and start a new project. He’s already dropped several that were about to be mass-manufactured and had been shown to his satisfaction to work. Please look at the history with clear eyes, and not hope.

  105. PPS. See the long review of “Glass House” that I wrote on page 6 of the reviews. I worked for Anchor Hocking but left before the events described in the book, so I knew the company very well.

  106. Larry Ledwick says:

    Lionell, I have also seen “competition” destroy companies legally. I used to run the machine shop at a small barbwire manufacture in South East Colorado right after I got out of the Navy. They had government contracts for lots of barbwire. They got their drawing rod from CFI steel in Pueblo. CFI worked with them for several years to get the drawing wire so it produced good wire and had good drawing characteristics. Once they had that sorted out, CFI built its own barbwire mill and shortly after the company I worked for folded up, as they could not compete with the steel mill who sourced their drawing rod at cost and had much lower shipping costs.

    It is interesting to note that in the early 1900’s CFI was owned by John D. Rockefeller – looks like that company culture of cut throat business practices stays with the company for a long time.

    CFI was also a player in the Colorado Labor wars and the Ludlow Massacre where a striking miners camp was machinegunned by Colorado National Guard troops and CFI guards.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_Massacre

  107. Simon wrote: “I can only assume that you do not have practical experience with how to measure things”
    I am an engineer brought up in the aircraft industry at the RAE. So of course I understand and can actually measure things. Probably far better than you.

    How many times do I have to repeat that Rossi is not interested in supplying detailed proof because that would give away his secrets. He doesn’t owe you anything.
    I KNOW he has not provided proof. You will have to wait and see if he has something or if he doesn’t. Don’t be so silly.

  108. pouncer says:

    Adrian Ashfield says:”re calling Rossi a fraud. So if I called you a pedophile … I would be entitled to my opinion?”

    Interestingly that is the precise question at issue in the on-going Mann V. Steyn case.

    Steyn, quoting Simberg, compared Mann to a convicted and notorious Pedophile Jerry Sandusky. Mann sued, including among other claims of defamation lists of insults such as “master of the tree ring circus” and “author of the fraudulent hockey stick graph”. A defense motion to dismiss was, in part, affirmed. That part related to the Sandusky allusion, at least as related to Steyn’s case. The legal reasoning amounts to “reasons for various reasons” we needn’t elaborate here, even if we laymen might hope to follow the jargon.

    The term “fraudulent” however was deemed a matter too complicated for decision in pre-trial. Is the term “fraud” defamation per se? Even if it is, is the adjective form “fraudulent” equally defamatory? Can a professional’s work be defamed independently of the professional or the profession? The case goes on.

    The state of the law in the US appears to me to be such that is safer and more solidly constitutional to refer to, or compare, a disliked person as / to a pedophile than it is to describe him as a fraud. Not what I would expect.

  109. Pouncer,
    It seems to be OK to call a public figure something nasty that you are not allowed to call a private citizen. I’m not entirely clear on the logic of this.

  110. Adrian – look at the pattern since 2011. How many devices ready to go into mass-manufacture, with robotic factories being built? Any of those devices, if they actually worked, would have made a fortune. It’s not as if Rossi was short of people buying licences to make and sell them, after all, just that he didn’t let them do so. Note also that IH walked away and even gave him the license back, since they obviously regarded it as having a value of zero. One device made by IH was tested to Rossi’s specifications and found to have a high COP, and was then taken apart and found to be unfuelled (shame when you mix up your 6s and 9s).

    Measuring heat output and electrical input may not have been what you did in the aircraft industry. I don’t know. Since I deal with energy measurements, I find Rossi’s measurements unbelievable, and Penon’s data set looks like fudged data.

    Rossi has sold licences to various people. He’s making money at this. Just because he won’t sell shares to the public is no reason to think he’s self-financed and is not ripping people off. Selling shares to the public requires complying with a lot more regulations, and would open him to SEC involvement.

    At the beginning I was hoping that Rossi actually had something, since it seemed to be based on Piantelli’s work that was in itself good science. Piantelli seems to be still working on it.

    It’s true that Rossi doesn’t owe me any data or information. The information that he does give out does not however hang together. You are not alone, since it seems those Swedish professors, Levi, and others are still supporting Rossi enough to go to the QX demo. Then again, according to James Randi, scientists are normally easier to fool than normal people since they don’t expect to be lied to. Back in Keely’s day he had backing from scientists, too.

    Look at the history, look at the published data, do the energy calculations, then make your own mind up.

  111. Simon, it seems you have no experience in such things. What field are you in?

    Of course an inventor is enthusiastic about his latest creation but can’t possibly know if if something like the E-Cat will be commercial before at least a one year test.

    Of course he has dreamed of automatic production as an engineer, but surely you know his work to date has been produced manually in small workshops (of which he is very familiar) and an automated factory would take at least to year to plan and build.

    Contrary to the trolls comments, and allowing for English being his second language, he has never claimed to HAVE an automated factory built ad ready to go. He tends to talk of workshops being fatories.

  112. Adrian – the Doral test was all about steam heat. If you can’t understand that no matter what the meters say, if the heat doesn’t leave a 1MW-wide evidence-trail behind it then it wasn’t there, then there’s not a lot else that will shake your belief. If you don’t understand that measuring-kit has to be used within its specifications, and can lie to you if you use it wrong, then you won’t see why Rossi’s measurements are unbelievable.

    It’s not about me – I can point you at the evidence but you don’t have to read or accept it. What Rossi claimed to have done was not actually impossible (though the measurements were questionable), until he claimed to be producing 1MW at Doral. That data proves itself to be a lie if you analyse it. It also turns out Rossi sold the heat that was said to be produced to a company (J M Products) that he had created for that purpose, and thus was also the customer who signed off that he was happy with the quantity delivered.

  113. As regards being driven out by unfair competition, that also happened to a friend of mine who owned a garage/petrol station where I used to live. Another businessman who owned several other garages (with expensive petrol) opened up opposite, and sold petrol several pence cheaper than Chris could afford to sell it at. Once Chris finally folded and sold up, the price of petrol went up across the road. Fattest wallet won. Where Chris had run a fair deal on the workshop costs, people also had to pay more at the new garage as well – it would have actually been a better deal to have paid more at Chris’s garage (like I did) and get the cheaper workshop work when required. I value people who know what they’re doing….

  114. Gail Combs says:

    The cut throat ‘Fat Wallets’ is why I try to use the local Mom & Pop shops as much as I possibly can.
    ….

    Speaking of Mom & Pop garages, I put my black pick-up in to have Jeff look at the tranny in July…. $7000+ dollars later I FINALLY got my pick-up back with a rebuild from the engine back to the rear wheels. The last guy to work on it really mucked it up. Now she purrs like a kitten and runs like a race horse on less than 1/2 the fuel. I should be able to pay for the rebuild in 3 years just with the fuel cost savings.

    We have concluded Jeff has OCD… I am handing him my other diesel pick-up in the spring. 😄

  115. Simon,
    You never answered my question . What do you do for a living and what is your experience?

  116. Adrian – you wish to know my background so that you can decide which pigeonhole I fit in. Can I be safely ignored as being ignorant or incompetent? However, the data I’ve pointed you at stands on its own, and you are well capable of analysing it providing you drop the stance of believing Rossi and just look at the data. I do not regard you as being ignorant, and I’m sure that like most of the people on this blog (I can’t think of any exceptions) we’d get on well in person. I am not trying to insult you, just to encourage you to inspect your beliefs as to whether they are valid, and to just look at the data.

    For information, though, I’ve worked in computers, failure analysis and electronics design, and have a degree in nuclear physics. Now I’m retired I’ve been working in the energy field to find a way of producing it more cheaply. Some things I’m exploring are demonstrably crackpot, but I have a good logical basis for thinking they may be possible – one of these is LENR. As such, I would be more inclined to give Rossi the benefit of the doubt if such doubt was possible. That doubt was dispelled by the Doral data. Getting things wrong in a new field would not necessarily mean I’d call someone a fraud, since I’d treat Parkhomov with respect for what he did even though it appears that he made some serious mistakes. What causes me to call someone a fraud is where they know themselves that it doesn’t work and yet claim that it does, and Rossi obviously knew before Doral started that it had no chance of actually working and set up the metering system to provide false data. As I noted, you can’t just wish a megawatt away, you need to prepare a path, and that will itself leave evidence. The time in Failure Analysis (a forensic science) caused me to be very aware of evidence chains.

    I’d urge you to look closely at the available evidence from Rossi v Darden, therefore, since that contains all you need to know. It’s sworn evidence, and possibly like me you’ll end up with the opinion that Rossi perjured himself on the subject of the heat-exchanger that no-one else saw and for which there is no evidence of either Rossi buying the materials or of the help he hired to install it. The design stated was also insufficient to dissipate 1MW, and was stated to exhaust that heat onto a public path. And nobody could be found who’d noticed the fan noise or the hot air.

    Still – don’t take my word for it. Go to the sources.

  117. E.M.Smith says:

    @Lionell:

    So many false assertions in such little space… I’ll try to point out the most wrong in the hope you might just maybe catch some of the clue in it:

    “Apparently individual rights do not matter to you.”

    Absolutely false. I am against the ability of the bully to break my nose or destroy my business via corruption, fraud, deception, and force (physical OR abusive monetary OR abusive use of law). To preserve individual rights.

    I am greatly FOR individual EQUAL rights. It is only when they become unequal to the degree that the bully can crush everyone else that I plead the case for a “countervailing force”. To hold otherwise is to be an advocate for the Emperor and King being “more equal”… or the Robber Baron.

    “Voluntary association and mutual agreement are not proper if you don’t like the result.”

    Again, false. I don’t give a damn about voluntary associations and mutual agreement having any particular result UNLESS they are such an association of the Bully to destroy others. Be it via war, or via predatory practices. Equal and fair competition, voluntary association in trades, unions, consortia, wheatever; I’m all for it. With the one exception of use of that combine to crush others. Basically, I don’t care who you play with or what game you play as long as you don’t hurt me and other innocents.

    “You are quite willing to have a party who’s ONLY vested interest is exercising it’s monopoly power, the Government, to step in and violate the rights of others who are both NOT violating your rights and doing something you don’t like.”

    This is so lame as to be silly. I am in favor of the absolute minimal possible government. Unfortunately, having zero leads to an anarchy that leads to the rise of a dictator that ends in maximal government. So something must be in that niche to assure something worse doesn’t occupy it. Governments, IMHO, need a very tight leash on them via the people, a firm constitution of limited powers, and constant pruning via the courts. They need to be limited to preventing Monopoly abuses, not creating them. So no, I’m NOT in favor of “government monopoly”, only government police powers to prevent abuse of citizens. As to “not violating my rights”, that’s both vague enough to be meaningless (just which things are “rights”?) and frankly a bit daft. I’m specifically in favor of government ENFORCING rights, not allowing them to be violated.

    “Your so called Economic History is mostly mythology based upon mostly false premises.”

    Riiiiight… /sarc; So J.D. Rock. never crushed his opposition, never cornered most of the Oil market, never used that power to drive others out of business. It’s all some grand conspiracy of lies, no doubt. As to history being based on “false premises”: History is a recording of events, no premises needed.

    “The primary false premise is that the power of persuasion of value traded for value among free individuals is the same kind of power as the power of the gun – brute physical force – where the rights of the forced is irrelevant and the whims of the gun holder determines the outcome or else.”

    Try “There is abuse when persuasion of value traded for value ends INVOLUNTARY value extraction via mechanisms of excess power are used instead.” It IS a force, just a legal one and often an involuntary financial one. There is little difference between shooting with a gun or starving to death.

    “Unless and until we can get agreement on that point, no further discussion is of value.”

    Well, at last something that might have some truth in it. No, I’m not going to apply your hypothetical free trade of equals standard to a world full of asymmetrical power, coercion, and abuse. History is full of examples of what evil men do under those conditions. From Carpet Baggers to Robber Barons to Emperors and Kings and 1001 petty tyrants. I would love to see a world where folks would meet as equals in fair exchange and all was just peachy… but that is a fantasy world.

    Realize I’ve spent decades negotiating contracts. Both my own, and for companies (some into the several $Millions). I’m pretty good at contracts and contract law. The basis of the contract is the “Meeting of the minds”. Where there is no meeting of the minds there is no real contract. Unfortunately, when told “Take our contract or starve to death”, folks stop caring about the niceties of contract law and have the “contract” forced on them despite there being no “meeting of the minds”. Essentially, when the power is too asymmetrical, there is no contract and your paradigm breaks down. That is the point where a “countervailing power” is brought in to ENABLE a valid contract. Sometimes The State to assure that the indigent, infirm, or incompetent are not abused. Sometimes other voluntary agencies ( from Churches to law firms and more). Even the ability to make a contract is subject to this understanding in that you must be old enough and of sound mind.

    So no, we are not going to agree to use your fantasy world to discuss the real one. If that’s not acceptable to you, then yes, there’s little point.

    “I now know who and what you are.”

    No, you don’t. It just isn’t possible to really know someone over a keyboard and a few dozens of pages. Furthermore, the “what you are” has a sinister sneer to it. What I am is a human. Beyond that I have beliefs and memories, but they are not “what I am”, they are what I know. The sneer is a very untidy mind behaviour.

    FWIW, my dominant political leaning is a Classical Libertarian. I only retreat from that starting point when there are clear areas that need some other treatment. Unfortunately, the modern American Libertarian Party pushes a bunch of silly things that have kept them from gaining any traction ( like their fixation on pushing marijuana on a society not yet ready for that POV – though slowly getting there). I do recognize the reality that a all voluntary association army fails. (Thus Rome beat the Celts, and the US Govt. beat the American Natives, and several other examples). So if you do not have a formal government and a formal army, you WILL shortly… but with some other jack boot in charge of it… Doesn’t mean I like that fact, though. It isn’t “who or what I am”, it is a recognition of the lessons of history. A very similar thing applies to Monopoly and Cartels in economics. You either prevent them from exercising abusive power, or you WILL be working for them at as close to zero as possible and paying as close to “all you have” for the products. Note that this does not say to prevent them from existing, or even prevent them from using non-abusive methods to gain advantage (such as just being more efficient or making a better product).

    Recognizing that there is an objective reality and it DOES mean you will end up in poverty and a slave if you let power have free run, and the only effective counter to that so far devised is the Countervailing Power of come kind of collective (be it Union, Government, Army, Free Trade Association, International Law, or whatever); none of that changes ‘what you are’ nor even impinges on ‘what you want’. It is just recognition of the lessons of history and reality.

    A history-blind fixation on an ideal of Staunch Individuals With ALL Powers just gets you in chains as a Celt slave to the Romans… or working for Mining Company being paid 90% of what you need to live and required to buy everything at the Company Store at abusive prices. Those things happened. That’s why we have the governments we have today. To fix those things.

    So do I like our government today? Hell no! It’s about 75% too big, 90% too unresponsive to the people, and way too full of corruption (vis Senate personal gain in office…) but I sure as heck don’t want zero… as then we’d have it much worse.

  118. E.M.Smith says:

    I had already lost much of my interest in Rossi when the Doral test was done; mostly just thinking “at last a test at scale”. So never bothered to look into the details of it.

    “The design stated was also insufficient to dissipate 1MW, and was stated to exhaust that heat onto a public path. And nobody could be found who’d noticed the fan noise or the hot air. ”

    If he really said the MW was dumped into the air (as opposed to consumed in some endothermic chemical production) that requires a water tower about 20 x 20 feet and a vapor plume visible for blocks around, or enough fans moving air to make a 747 sound quiet… (Weeeelll, really a 747 is 90 MW so it is more like a 707… but it isn’t a Piper Cub ;-) lack of that is hard to explain… or at least has never been addressed.

  119. jim2 says:

    All this talk of overly powerful business figures reminded me of Zola’s Germinal.

  120. EM – IIRC the stated size of the heat exchanger was 1x2x11m made up of 150mm diameter smooth-wall steel pipes spaced 500mm centre to centre. Input and output were via removed window-panes onto the public way and with a 5kW fan to drive the air. Insufficient air-flow and insufficient heat-transfer and it would have been very obvious to any passers-by as well as killing the palm-trees outside. Carrying a 10m long pipe into the specified room would have needed several people, and I’m not certain it would have been possible to carry them up the somewhat-rickety wooden stairs and into the room. No records of the pipes and bends having been purchased or of people hired to install it. 1MW in a 50x20m warehouse would have quickly reached lethal temperatures without an efficient way of getting rid of the heat. An IR survey (not in the court records, but mentioned by Dewey Weaver from IH in LENR Forum) did not show a heat plume, limiting the visible heat output to around 20kW which was the electricity used from the grid supply. There’s a lot of data available if you wish to check it, but the result is a big fat zero so unless (like Adrian) you remain hopeful that Rossi is kosher then there’s not a lot of point. I only dug deeper since I was being shown data that was internally inconsistent, and needed to be sure that I wasn’t rejecting a real breakthrough.

    On the political side, I would like an anarchy where people do not rip others off and competition is fair. Given human nature, though, it just wouldn’t work and we have examples of just how badly that would end. It seems several of us here have personal examples of where Fat Wallets got fatter by using monopolistic practices. It’s not history in the books, it’s personal knowledge. I suspect that that’s why religions have survived so well – where the potential Evil Bastards know that *someone* knows everything that happens they won’t be quite as evil. A community that shares a religion will thus survive better than one that doesn’t – religion is a survival characteristic. Santa knows if you’ve been naughty or nice….

    Some form of government is thus a necessary evil, being less evil than the alternatives. Dividing the government functions into separated powers where one section cannot dominate reduces the evil further. Making some sections lifetime jobs and others changeable on a schedule (in the USA the Supreme Court are appointed for life, and in the UK it’s the royals) gives continuity and change, which also helps. We can propose systems that may be better, but I suspect that a long-term test would show problems. A E Van Vogt’s “World of Null-A” seems an unattainable utopia. In the real world, where an AI oversees all actions and conversation (as may happen in our lifetimes), smart people will find a way to avoid that oversight.

  121. Simon,
    I have looked at most of the E-Cat data. I found the quality of the data for Doral to be so bad it was not possible to come up with a definite conclusion. As I wrote earlier, I’m not interested in rehashing it again as that would take too long.
    So to keep trying to get me to do so when earlier efforts have failed, expecting a different answer is…..

    EMS, I agree with what you have written recently about the government and economics and wonder why people find it so difficult to see it.

  122. gallopingcamel says:

    @JIM,
    “gallopingcamel – I wonder if the higher prices in the US occur because paying customers have to finance medicines and medical care for the non-paying? This is a wink-and-a-nod setup between government and medical providers, accelerated by Obamacare.”

    That would not explain why the price of one drug increases by a factor of 100 while another remains unchanged.

    The FDA has some useful functions such as drug safety but it also does great harm. The FDA is a major factor in spiraling drug costs. Even the hapless Brits with their “Single Payer” system do a better job of controlling drug prices than we do:

  123. gallopingcamel says:

    @Simon Derricutt,
    The Duke university FEL laboratory had a “Baltimore Air Coil” with the ability to remove 4 MW of heat from our cooling water (900 gallons per minute) and release it into the atmosphere. This was a serious piece of engineering, twelve feet tall and with two 100 HP fans that produced an impressive whooshing sound.
    As originally installed there was copious blue smoke at start up from the fan belts so I installed motor controllers to ensure soft starting and precision water temperature control. From your earlier comments I had assumed that Rossi was using water to dump the heat. If he used air it would take something like a Baltimore Air Coil to get rid of 1 MW.

  124. gallopingcamel says:

    That 4 MW cooling system at Duke had two 6″ schedule R (copper) pipes to circulate the 900 gpm cooling water with three 20 HP centrifugal pumps. Only two pumps were needed for normal operation with the third as backup.

    My point is that even after scaling something like that down to 1 MW it would not be something you could easily hide and why would anyone want to hide it?

  125. As a Parthian shot on LENR, it seems that that the critics dismiss LENR because they know of no mechanism to overcome the Coulomb barrier at low temperatures and so dismiss the whole thing as impossible without really looking.
    In fact, there are several explanations. There is still much to learn about electrons. This is an interesting paper that explains part of what is going on. http://www.padrak.com/ine/FB97_1.html

  126. Simon Derricutt says:

    GC – I did the calculations for water in order to show that this way of dissipating the energy was not plausible. As you see, the air route was also not plausible. The evidence for the heat is simply not there, and so unless you think that a few grams of Platinum sponge can absorb that heat (another Rossi explanation early on) then there was no heat.

    I’m sure that LENR will be both proven and understood, but predicting when is a little difficult.

  127. gallopingcamel says:

    @Adrian Ashfield,
    Most of the folks here consider LENR as a worthwhile research topic. Ni+H has the potential to produce energy without producing radioactive spent fuel. There may be many other reactions that will do that.

    Fleishman and Pons were real scientists but their results could not be reproduced. Real science requires replication so until Rossi publishes something that others can replicate people like me will continue to reject his claims.

    For similar reasons we should reject “Climate Alarmism” because its claims cannot be replicated even at the “two sigma” level. In hard science such as physics one expects claims to be replicated at least to the “three sigma” level.

    https://www.johnlocke.org/event/the-tea-party-barack-obama-and-the-limits-of-research/

  128. Adrian – muon-catalysed fusion has been known for a long time, and was the original “cold fusion” proposed. The problem is that producing the muons costs more energy than you get out, since the muons have a limited lifetime and thus don’t catalyse enough fusion reactions. The branching ratios are however those of hot fusion, producing gammas and neutrons in the same quantities as hot fusion.

    LENR, which has a different (and currently unknown) mechanism, produces few neutrons or gammas and would thus be better. Ken Shoulders’ experiments (in your padrak link) are something else altogether, as far as I can see. Koloc’s ideas were maybe an upscaling of Shoulders’ experiments (though before Ken), using larger self-contained balls of electrons. Focus Fusion is an extension of that idea. There are quite a few ways of releasing nuclear power in the records, and some of them may be practically possible. Fewer may be commercially viable. Still, Coulomb repulsion is not overly difficult to overcome, it’s just that doing it cheaply hasn’t yet been solved.

  129. GC wrote: “Fleishman and Pons were real scientists but their results could not be reproduced. ”
    Wrong. They have been replicated many times.

    “Real science requires replication”
    Strange variation of chrödinger’s cat. Science exists but isn’t real until it has been replicated (copy right GC

  130. gallopingcamel says:

    Adrian Ashfield,
    I was pulling for Fleishman & Pons because I felt that my tribe (Respectable Physicists) were subject to “Group Think”. Doug Adams has a nice quote that explains the problem:

    “It startled him even more when just after he was awarded the Galactic Institute’s Prize for Extreme Cleverness he got lynched by a rampaging mob of respectable physicists who had finally realized that the one thing they really couldn’t stand was a smartass.”
    ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

    You say that the work of Fleishman & Pons has been replicated and that is something I would like to look at. If you want to discuss this off line my public email is info(at)gallopingcamel.info.

    Alternatively please share links to the relevant papers here.

  131. gallopingcamel says:

    @Adrian Ashfield,
    “As a Parthian shot on LENR, it seems that that the critics dismiss LENR because they know of no mechanism to overcome the Coulomb barrier at low temperatures and so dismiss the whole thing as impossible without really looking.”

    Clearly the Coulomb barrier is a problem if you want Nickel to react with Hydrogen or a proton. The situation is quite different if you use thermal neutrons.

    The TUNL (Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory) has a Van de Graaf accelerator that can generate a high energy proton beam. We used that beam to produce multiple thermal neutrons to drive a nuclear reactor built by the late Charlie Bowman. This machine was tested at LANR (Los Alamos) and it ended up at Virginia Tech:
    http://www1.phys.vt.edu/~kimballton/gem-star/workshop/presentations/bowman.pdf

    This project is now being proposed as a way to re-process “Nuclear Waste”.
    http://www.nsel.ncr.vt.edu/Files/Presentation-GEMSTAR-VNECBoard-April22-2016.pdf

    Personally, I think MSRs (Molten Salt Reactors) will do this job better and at a much lower cost. My personal favorite is the LFTR (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor).

    I would like to see the Bowman reactor coupled to the SNS (Spallation Neutron Source) at ORNL (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) to investigate Ni + n reactions and several other similar reactions.

  132. GC – the first successful replication I know of was by Amoco (yes, the oil company) in 1990 – see http://newenergytimes.com/v2/reports/amoco.shtml for article and links. The most-convincing work was done by Miles et al – see http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/MilesManomalousea.pdf for the final 1996 report (there’s also an earlier 1993 report on a single cell). There’s a problem in Wikipedia that since they think it’s impossible they keep pushing the viewpoint that P+F were never replicated and so it’s bad science. They were in fact replicated pretty quickly, but only competent electrochemists actually got good results because the experiment is technically difficult to do. If you show heat, then it can be dismissed as experimental error, and if you look for Helium then that can be dismissed as experimental error (since there’s not yet a theory that allows it to happen). On the other hand, the Miles experiment showed a correlation between the heat and the Helium that cannot be easily dismissed, with the cells that didn’t produce heat acting as controls for those that did.

    That GEMSTAR project looks pretty good. IIRC, in India the cost of Thorium is around $5 per kilo, so it’s maybe somewhat surprising that they haven’t explored this there. In the USA, there are some pretty large stockpiles of Thorium from rare-earth mining (it’s why they tend to buy rare-earths from China, since the regulations on piling up Thorium-bearing waste are somewhat lax) so the fuel costs should be a lot lower than Charlie Bowman stated. Burning nuclear waste makes a lot more sense than burying it in a mountain somewhere. That’s a win-win situation, since the cost of such storage is high. The various molten-salt reactors can also burn such waste leaving a final waste that is quickly safer than the original ores and would only really need storing for a century or less. Providing you don’t want stuff to make bombs with, they seem close to ideal – but that’s probably why they were not chosen back in the 60s.

  133. cdquarles says:

    Oh, nice find. [Puts on chemist hat] Chemistry is all about this: reactants + conditions => products + conditions. Most of the time, you don’t have to be really strict about what the word conditions mean. When you do, though, a proper error analysis and propagation is necessary and mandatory.

    Does anyone have any links to any crystallography papers that describe in detail the lattice? Any links to surface chemistry papers?

  134. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jim2:

    Per American drug and medical prices:

    This started in the 1960s and 1970s as a kind of back-door socialism. The thinking was that Americans are (were…) rich, much richer than the 3rd world and even richer than their own poor class, so they can afford to pay for things like R&D. Differential pricing according to “ability to pay” vs need… Prices started rising out of all reason, for those with insurance, as that was soaked to pay for everyone who was indigent. It got so bad by the mid-70s that Medicare started to have differential pricing rules (i.e. Medicare started saying “We will pay this much and no more.” ). This started to shift even more of the “excess burden” onto private insurance. Bills rocketed even higher (for those who bothered to pay them…)

    Then, in the 1980s the shift to HMOs set in big time. Companies like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Aetna, and others started to solicit individuals and group practices to accept their patients at lower rates of payment in their “HMO” (Health Maintenance Organization). Drug companies were getting a clue too and joining the differential pricing club… Kaiser had set the model for HMOs, but tended to have specific geographical facilities and large central hospital operations. These new form HMOs were more like collective bargaining units with individual providers, but stuffed under that name (HMO) since there were already rules and a concept of lower costs applied to it.

    Many traditional health plans buckled under the weight of the Socialist Burden. (In the ’90s the company I was using for MY company announced they were going out of business and I ought to look elsewhere…) and the “Healthcare Crisis” was born. Not really a healthcare crisis, but really a billing the deep pockets crisis, as prices continued to rise to astronomical heights in an attempt to soak up enough cash to cover total costs + profit while ever more of the payors were wise to the racket and limiting their ability to be soaked. Generally there were “We will pay no more than ANYONE else” clauses added to policies (so that if Medicare got a good deal due to their enormous size and countervailing power, then automagically everyone else did, to.) along with fixed schedules of fees (where possible) payable and even restrictions on the pharmacopeia (list of approved drugs) that could be used. List prices reached the absurd level while actual billed prices could range over orders of magnitude. Stories of things like $100 bottles of juice and $1000 / day hospital rooms were circulating.

    So now we are in the end game. Insurance Companies had put in place enough rules for things like exclusion of preexisting conditions and lifetime limits and annual limits and such that they no longer were going out of business. The giant companies remaining in the market could afford copious lobbyist funding, and did. The Left Leaning of the USA were busy looking for other wallets to soak. Washington had The One elected… and Hillary Care morphed into Obama Care. If folks would not pay ungodly prices for health insurance (and “redistribution” of costs from “the poor” to them), The Government would require them to buy (and pay) By Law! Except people stayed away in droves, the expected forced extraction of money from the healthy and wealthy classes to pay for the sick and poor classes didn’t materialize, and the abused Regular Joe & Jane voted in Trump.

    BUT… The concentration of power into a fewer number of health insurance companies and a fewer number of drug companies has persisted. The Democrats have shifted even more to Socialism (vis Bernie with full on socialism vs Hillary with Hillary Care – and try to find a free market anywhere in the Democratic platform) and prices at the Doctors Office or Hospital have continued to stick high. A couple of truly daft sociopaths in drug companies decided to take the game to the limit and go for full on monopoly pricing on any drug they could, and The Public started sharpening their pitchforks. Where it will end is anybody’s guess at this point.

    What is clear to me is that the attempt at a “3rd Way” Market Socialism has, again, failed. Having government “manage” the healthcare market, pick a few winner companies, and assure they make a profit while “redistributing” as necessary to assure everyone gets “according to their need” has simply destroyed real market forces and the efficiency that comes with them. “Care” (which really means treatment…) has not gotten significantly better (certainly not beyond the normal technical improvement over time) while list prices have gone out of sight. (Literally. There is no price list you can look at pretty much everywhere as there is no ‘list price’ since everyone has negotiated different terms…) A good friend with stellar health insurance from a major company (one of the few first tier coverages still available) has something like a $50,000 bill hanging over his head where he pays something like $100 / month as that is what he can pay. Why? Well, insurance had set limits… and he is “too rich” for the socialized coverage. Retired with only retirement income, but living in a very nice house, he can pay for his normal expenses, but not more than that. Spouse got sick and BINGO! he won the High Priced Bill…

    See, part of the problem with “soak the rich to pay for the poor” is deciding just who are the “rich” and who are the “poor”… Another friend got a great surgery treatment under Obamacare. Certainly over $50,000 price. Fixed a long standing “pre-existing condition” including artificial joints. Paid nearly nothing for it. Has about the same monthly income as the first friend, but lives in a less fancy neighborhood. He has no bill hanging over his head…

    (FWIW, I’ve known both for many years. Like them both. Both are great folks. I don’t begrudge the “poorer” friend his relief from decades of pain and suffering. I’m not advocating, I’m just “admiring the problem”.)

    Where will this end? I have no idea.

    Trump could dismantle some of it, but spineless Republicans (many getting bribes “donations” from insurance companies and drug companies) are not going to piss in the coffee of the Donor Class; while Democrats (similarly soaked in “donor class” money) will continue to push Socialism at the Dependent Class.

    Elsewhere I’ve given my formula for a solution. I know it is a fantasy as TPTB would never ever alow it. (It starts with building way more medical schools, and removing the AMA from the role of Doctor Birth Control… and moves on requiring ONE price for any procedure or drug to ALL recipients – no ‘differential pricing’ that easily turns into predatory pricing and a monopoly / monopsony war). Since it pees in all players soup bowls, it will never happen. We’ve already had the attempt to prevent Big Corporate Money from entering politics be shot down as they found “human rights” for fictional entities. (IMHO we ought to have ALL donations come from individual real persons only. Someone is running a drug company and wants to “donate” $Million to a political cause, it ought NOT be a tax deduction for the company but instead come directly from the individuals running the place.)

    So, for the foreseeable future, we’re in a bit of a turf war. It is a 4 sided battle between Drug Companies (who bill pharmacies, hospitals, and governments), The Government (who pay Medicare, MediCal, Medicaid, etc.) along with passing laws, and Hospital Chains (as small hospitals got ‘rolled up’ into chains to get some amount of countervailing power), and Medical Insurance companies who first see the bill; with the Citizens and the employers stuck in the middle of the battlefield trying not to be run over by the tanks and dodging the bombs… But lately those citizens and their employers (the ones that still have paid plans) have been starting to run a resistance movement and a few things have been unexpectedly blown up… A drug hyperprice here, a “must buy” there…

    The two major “sides” are:

    1) Socialism is the answer. Just have One Payer and everything will be dandy as they can whip those Evil Companies into shape. (The problem being that you get stagnant medical technology, denial of service, and in much of the ROW (Rest Of World) this only works as they are having the USA pay for the R&D and such – so what happens when the USA stops playing and paying?) I have horror stories about the UK medical plan in my own family…

    2) Get back to Managed Markets. Have the Government set rules, but let folks be “free to choose” between the approved choices. Except we know that with concentrated power comes things like differential pricing, abusive “contracts” that you have no say in setting, and burden shifting to anyone else (but especially the folks who have no countervailing power).

    Missing is what really ought to be done:

    3) Eliminate abusive monopoly power relationships and have a real competitive market. You do this with a mix of rule making, countervailing power, and fundamental anti-trust laws. So things like admit the AMA is a “Trust” limiting the supply of doctors. Build more medical colleges, nursing colleges, etc. More supply means lower prices. Admit that Drug Companies are playing games with prices and simply require that the drugs be sold at ONE price to all comers. (i.e. ban differential pricing). Do the same for Hospitals. This gets rid of the “hidden socialism” and makes it visible. The Poor get to openly admit they can’t pay the bill and society gets to openly address who ought to pick up the tab. Those with medical insurance no longer get astounding bills for things due to having a dozen OTHER folks service buried in their bill. (The $100 aspirin dies…) There’s more, but that’s the big lumps.

    And no, it will never happen. Not with current “Donor Class” rules and behaviours.

  135. cdquarles says:

    Reading further, I see that the calorimeter’s system is one that I have used, though the ones I used were not high resolution analytical ones.

  136. E.M.Smith says:

    @Simon:

    Yup. You got it.

    The typical intro to Monopoly puts emphasis on physical “Economies of Scale” and talks about Steel Mills where you need a giant thing to be productive (heat loss as surface area so a square function, production as volume so cube function, bigger is inevitably better until you reach the limits of materials to function as a mill…). In reality, there are fundamental economies of scale in all industrial / business activities.

    So the opposite end is the Hotdog Cart. Minimum Economic Scale is 1 cart. The notion being that beyond that you are adding one person running it, and one cart, and the cost curve is essentially linear, so no economies of scale. (Nor, really, dis-economies of scale either)

    In reality, there are ways around that. The Franchise is one example. Then there are just the financial economies of scale that come with large size. Say Hebrew National decided to start running a Hotdog Stand operation. It will be getting MUCH cheaper hotdog prices than any competitor can ever get (since it owns the factory…) and is doing vertical integration. Then, when it goes to the bank for a loan to buy Hotdog Carts, being a huge company, it gets very favorable rates (near Prime) while Joe Nobody is told to put it on his credit card… Similarly, buying condiments will have differential pricing leaning to scale growth, as will payout for labor. The little guy is trying to pay his rent and car payment. The Chain is just looking to pay minium wage to a ‘rate taker’.

    In the end, between financial economies of scale, purchasing economies of scale, monopsony power in things like labor and materials inputs, and a few more; most things have a Maximum Economic Scale that can really be quite large. Even the stereotypical example of “pure competition”, the farm, is turning into Mega-Corporations for this same reason.

    So, unfortunately, and against my desires, unless everyone wants to work for The One Corporation at minimum wage (set by their “donations” to the political class) and buying all goods at their company store at their high prices set well above your pay rate; there needs to be a countervailing power preventing just those actions that are abusive and lead to that outcome. Predatory pricing that drives small players out of the game. Differential pricing that favors the powerful over the small. Monopsony purchasing rates (so “minium wage” actually has a small benefit here, though mostly it just puts poor folks out of work). Etc. etc.

    Unfortunately, the Megacorps are the ones in the donor class and they with their lobbyists and donations own the political class who set the rules. All you can do is be a petty annoyance once every few years as you choose between their right hand or their left hand for your spanking… OR have a revolution and end up in Socialism with just ONE ruling Monopoly, The Party, doing the spanking…

    Freedom and Liberty along with Free Markets are unstable states and require constant tuning and active feedback to persist. This has been know for a long time, but usually stated in flowery terms like “fertilization with the blood of patriots”…

  137. cdquarles says:

    We already have this, EM. I told you about HIPAA. There is only one price that can be charged. Nearly no-one pays it. The market has also spoken, since HIPAA and especially No-Care, with the rise of concierge medicine. Also, there isn’t really a market need for more medical schools. The market has spoken via the rise of ‘physician extenders’, also known as physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The law makes physicians train their ‘low-cost’ replacements, too, which includes HB-1s. We probably could have class sizes increased some, though.

    NB that outside of the government-insurance complex, for procedures that are ‘cosmetic’, practitioners advertise, have list prices available and you can negotiate with them, since there are no third parties involved. This is true of concierge medicine, too.

    Besides, the AMA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the government now-a-days. Consider them to be the medical equivalent of the SEIU.

  138. Larry Ledwick says:

    On medical costs, a friend of mine who used to run the ambulance service in a rural Colorado county, and he thought that part of the problem with medical billings was an expectation of price inflation. It takes years to change and get approval for medical prices paid by medicare, so the providers need to price the service at what they think Medicare will finally approve to pay years down the road. When it is finally approved then billing will actually cover their future costs. That puts medical billing cycle into a upwards death spiral as each group with skin in the game tries to anticipate what they will need to get paid for a drug or service 5 years in the future.

    Also as you mentioned many vendors are quoting high prices and then through back door “special needs” pricing giving huge price breaks for patients that they know they have no hope of collecting the full list price from. On late night TV I occasionally see drug ads for essential medical supplies and drugs which include a fine print “If you have limited income, contact our xyz program and we will help with reduced pricing for these products”. These so called Patient Assistance Programs are likely tax deduction charity expenses for the drug companies.

    If true it will be interesting to see how changes in the tax laws will impact these programs and drug prices.

    https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/prescription-drugs/assistance-for-the-elderly.html

  139. E.M.Smith says:

    “There is only one price that can be charged. Nearly no-one pays it.”

    Um, do I really need to decorate everything with “real” every time? One REAL price that is REALLY paid by…

    If there is a “one price”, but nearly no-one is paying it, then there REALLY is some other price… or prices… being paid.

  140. Larry Ledwick says:

    There are also negative economies of scale in medicine. As insurance costs and regulations multiply by leaps and bounds doctors are forced to high staffs of folks to handle all the medical forms and records and many doctors spend a good fraction of their time jumping through technical rules hoops and doing paperwork rather than seeing patients. This raises their minimum necessary hourly billing rate needed to keep the office doors open. As a result the small independent doctors office/practice is disappearing and for survival they need to associate with larger group systems like Kaiser and go through the hassles required to treat patients in several local hospitals. The days of the small office family physician is largely gone. In the 1950’s and ’60s my family went to a local doctor partnership of two doctors and one receptionist, in a small store front office a block off the main street in our local small community. I had my last full physical with them in 1973 when I got out of the navy. The office shut down a few years later, and I have not had a full time “my doctor” since.

  141. cdquarles says:

    Given the law and its intended and unintended side effects, EM, there can’t be one real price, period. If I were really free, who has the right to demand to me, the seller, what my price must be and why it can’t change. If I were really free, who has the right to demand to me, the buyer, what I must be made to pay? /rhetorical.

  142. gallopingcamel says:

    @Chiefio,
    While much of your “Jim2” screed makes sense I strenuously object to this:
    “Admit that Drug Companies are playing games with prices and simply require that the drugs be sold at ONE price to all comers. (i.e. ban differential pricing). ”

    That kind of thinking is causing starvation in Venezuela. Also “Rent Control” in London, New York and Chicago has led to high prices rather than the low prices that was the intention.

    The best approach is real competition with strong penalties for price fixing. The penalties should be jail time for CEOs and top executives rather than fines that have failed to curb bad behavior at KcKesson et al.

  143. Larry Ledwick says:

    I agree that fines for large corporations are just a line item in the budget and a cost of doing business unless they are enormous. Unlike a small business which might be bankrupt due to a large fine coming due at a bad time, large corporations can simply merge the cost into other expenses.

    If management feels no direct consequences, unless the fine is large enough to impact the share holders it has no impact on decision making except for “don’t get caught next time”.

    You can look at NASCAR or the NFL for a model of this the players and teams don’t lose much sleep over a fine that would be a years income to a normal person.

    You need to make the punishment for bad behavior directly impact the decision makers or the share holders for it to have teeth.

  144. Another current example of what happens in a monopoly situation. In Wales, one drug is stated to have risen in cost by 3200% (33 times the price) in the year from September 2016 to September 2017. Admittedly the authorities shot themselves in the foot by removing the licenses of the two local manufacturers who were cheap, but a price difference of this much does not reflect the cost of actual manufacture being higher as well.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-42506736
    It seems when a company or entity has the opportunity to gouge, it’s a rare one that doesn’t take advantage of the lack of competition.

  145. E.M.Smith says:

    @Larry:

    That would just be called an “economy of scale” and while the effect is negative / bothersome, as an economy of scale it pushes to larger size so would be a “positive economies of scale” in that larger offices work better.

    But yes, government burden is another thing pushing to larger economies of scale (most recently seen in Dodd Frank and making “too big to fail” turn into “make them even bigger with more regulations”…)

    @cdquarles:

    And that’s the conundrum… You can have freedom, and accept the bad effects too; or you can limit freedom for a “greater good” and accept the evils that come with that. There is no good choice free of evils.

    Once you decide to have a load of “monopoly practices” exercising “monopoly power”, though, the evil of NOT regulating rises greatly and the evil of regulating to standards become more palatable in comparison. So one needs to find some way to reduce the monopoly power in play to retain greater freedoms, or one needs to put a straight jacket on the monopoly pricing power ( predatory pricing / variable pricing by ability to pay )

    Clearly having the same product or service range from $0 to $10,000 is way out of whack, so something is seriously broken. My proposed solution would be to set a fixed price (like $4,000) but then have explicit 3rd party funding for the person who can not pay at all (anything from an in house “write off” shown on the annual report and tax returns to “welfare” to “charity” or whatever) but forbid having it be $3589 to one insurance company and $5876 to another and $2,000 to the guy without insurance but with good income and $10,000 to the person with deluxe insurance and various discounts, kickbacks, and “rejections” layered on all of them…

    @GC:

    THE big difference in the “one price” statement is that it is NOT “price control”. The ONE price can be set at whatever price you like. It just can’t be a different price for each buyer based on their ability to pay. Each hospital and drug company can set their price for, say, a statin drug, at whatever price they like. Then leave it unchanged regardless of who is the buyer (perhaps fixed in place for a month or a year at a time).

    We regularly see this in all sorts of places. From labor contracts where the union negotiates the standard wage rate for the duration, to catalog “take it or leave it” prices, to minimum wage laws to “price at the pump”. You don’t pull up to the gas pump and expect to see the price change AFTER you stick in your credit card and it finds out how much you can pay… Medical insurance (at least when I was buying a policy for my company) was fixed price for one year, with an annual adjustment period. Yet on a trip to the hospital I asked “what does FOO cost” at the counter… and got a blank stare and a statement that it depended on my insurance.

    So saying you can only charge one constant price (for some interval of time) to all buyers is not at all the same as saying all sellers must only charge this FIXED price set by government below the level of profitability or survival.

    @Simon:

    Yup. Especially when the person getting the drug is not the party paying for it… so they don’t care about the price, nor really does the clerk filling out the billing or payment forms… Once the paying parties are in the “who cares” bucket, the billing parties feel free to charge anything; and absent competition do so.

  146. EMS,
    There are several basic points I’ve made already.
    1, Healthcare is one of the few things where a free market can’t work. You can’t shop around for the best price when you are having a heart attack. Even if you could, I defy you to get a real price from the hospital ahead of time.

    2. Health care in America costs 2 – 8 times more that all other advanced countries, that cover everybody, and have better outcomes, using a single payer. Have a look at Singapore’s system for example. The guy that set it up was asked what he had learnt from the American system. He replied “What not to do.”

    3. It won’t be long before an AI system can diagnose you problem just as well, or better. than a doctor. Would you rather have that in the hands of a for profit companies? As is already happening, there is a move to get more of the treatment provided by nurses.

    4. There has been little real progress from the drug companies with new drugs despite their claims of how much they spend on R&D. Mainly variations of existing drugs to prolong monopolies.
    “List prices in other developed countries average 41 percent of US net drug prices (Exhibit 1) for the 15 companies that sell the 20 top-selling drugs in the US,”
    “We found that the premiums pharmaceutical companies earn from charging substantially higher prices for their medications in the US compared to other Western countries generates substantially more than the companies spend globally on their research and development.”
    https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20170307.059036/full/
    The FDA approved just 19 new drugs on 2016.

    5. “There’s a statistic that’s often cited as evidence of industry greed: Nine out of 10 large pharma companies spend more on marketing than they do on R&D.”
    With a single payer system they would not have to do that.

    I could go on, but it will have no effect. The donor class control Congress and are not interested in a cheaper, more efficient system. The GOP dogma that free enterprise is always best leaves little hope for a change.

  147. PS.
    6. The HMOs skim money off everything and employ thousands on useless paperwork that make the doctors employ help to sort out and waste your time on every visit. Can you undertand your invoice with just columns of numbers and no description of what was done?

  148. cdquarles says:

    Again, though, EM, as I told you, HIPAA does not allow charging different amounts to different insurance companies. Thus everyone gets charged *one* *HIGH* price, with locality differentials, that essentially no-one pays. Charging different insurance companies different amounts is a felony per count and a count is one claim. Different insurance companies set their own maximum allowable charge then pays a discounted amount. The contracts don’t allow the providers to bill patients the total difference. They can only bill the contractual co-payments and now-a-days, that’s up front and somewhat negotiable. The high price is the amount guessed to be sufficient to net enough cash flow such that the business remains a going concern.

    With the big M’s, they get to retroactively deny paid claims and, since they’re Government!, they claw back such “over payments” and can refer such a claim to the DOJ (Federal or State) for prosecution under the False Claims Act, at their own discretion. Yes, MDs and CEOs have gone to prison over this. Senator Bob Menendez, D, NJ, was caught up in such an action that involved an MD in FL. Bob’s probably going to get out of this. The MD isn’t.

    Speaking of that, FYI for those who may not know it, nurses in hospitals spend a lot of their time doing paperwork and much more now than they used to. Barcoded sticker on the IV catheter, on the tubing, on the bag, on the pill dispenser, which isn’t the old stock bottle but individually packaged, since you can spread infections via human touched pills. It wouldn’t surprise me that it is required to sterilize them. It’s maddening! Glad I’m not in that business any more and I advised my children to not go into it unless they were called to do it.

  149. pouncer says:

    “Healthcare is one of the few things where a free market can’t work. ”

    First, argument by assertion fails to impress most people. Second, the term “healthcare” has been re-defined in the last decade to mean “covered by a medical insurance policy; preferably a policy that meets government standards on provision of abortion, contraceptives, mammograms, and other services to one half of those participating”. Third, it’s not at all clear alternatives to “a free market” measure up to a standard which might be said to “work”, either. As evidenced by Canadians showing up in US clinics, or cutting edge obstetric and pediatric surgical cases showing up in US research hospitals. Shall we begin a “dueling google” exchange of statistics?

    “You can’t shop around for the best price when you are having a heart attack.” And this is intended to establish, exactly what? Even if “health care” had NOT been definitionally conflated with medical insurance, insurance has been a real thing for a long time and is exactly marketed (freely so) to choosy buyers who worry about that sort of scenario. It is also the case that many, and I think most, medical purchases (by event and by count of the “choice” to make a purchase, not the price of the purchased service) are buying non-acute care.

    “It won’t be long before an AI system can diagnose you problem just as well, or better. than a doctor. Would you rather have that in the hands of a for profit companies? ”

    Yes! Absolutely! Indubitably! Beyond all reasonable doubt! Please! Several different companies competing to provide such services and advertising results! Please! Now.

    You amaze me by even suggesting that the entities responsible for rolling out the Obamacare open enrollment exchanges of health insurance marketing software platforms over the course of several years do to accomplish historically dismal results could do diagnostics successfully. You seem to feel the entity running the veterans hospitals and letting people die while waiting to see a diagnostician can innovate a solution superior to, say, IBM’s “Watson” AI.

    It dismays me such commentary exists.

  150. p.g.sharrow says:

    If you really want to see government health care at work just look to the V.A.
    Nearly all of their efforts are directed towards generating paper work.
    They only need veterans enrolled to justify their existence and would prefer that you not actually come in and use their services. The last time I tried to get into the local clinic it was over 6 months out for an appointment. No real doctors, just H1b visa holders that do data entry to scripted computer screens. IF REAL medical treatment was required, just go to the nearest V.A. Hospital ER.. 4 hours drive away! Easy to restrict per capita cost of medical services, JUST restrict access. Maybe the patient will go elsewhere or die. I can go to a real Doctor, private and pay him for the needed service. He will see me in 20 minuets and wants to preserve my health…pg

  151. cdquarles says:

    @ Adrian.

    H3LL NO to a single payer system, which is a misnomer since they (deliberately?) fail to make it clear that such a system is a single payer third party system. There will be next to no innovation in such a monstrosity. The ‘best and brightest’ will avoid becoming practitioners in such a system. I am NOT a slave and I won’t accept being sold into it.

  152. cdquarles says:

    @pg, dang straight. Military brat, dad and one granddad served, as have several more distant relatives (cousins, uncles, great-uncles) and I know first hand how badly vets get treated. I saw it with my own eyes. I will fight for my youngest son, who’s in the Navy on active duty right now, to my own death if necessary, to see to it that he *never* gets abused by government ‘medical’ care.

  153. Many seem to miss the point biased by thinking all socialism is wrong. Look at the Scandinavian countries. They are now rated as better places to live than America, with its sums, so many homeless, and huge prison population and so many in poverty without health care.. Would it have been better if I had said you can’t look around for the best price when you are having a heart attack, or when the ambulance is taking you from the accident and has to (by law here) transport you to the nearest hospital, or you can’t think of anything else where you have no option, BEFORE saying free enterprise can’t work in health care? pouncer thinks so.

    Only a very small percentage of rich people in other countries care to spend the extra for treatment in America. Both Consumer Reports and The Atlantic has done detailed surveys showing in general foreign countries have much better outcomes than we do from the American system. So why on earth would you want to pay 2 to 8 times as much? Are Americans too stupid to run such a system that others do?

    I wouldn’t want a private company to have a monopoly on an AI diagnostic system. Ni ether do I think private companies would do better duplicating such a thing. It should be developed by a university in conjunction with a leading computer company and be almost free to use. There should be a research group charged with upgrading the thing. What private company would want to give away the product?

    Yes, politicians can be relied to screw things up lie Veteran’s health. In passing they get treat a lot better than the millions America have killed and wounded in their endless regime change wars.

  154. cdquarles says:

    I’ll put it to you this way, Adrian, I’d rather be a felon in the USA than a subject in Sweden or any other place with an overbearing government; though I am less strong in that sentiment now; given that we have, for the last 120 years or so, trodden the wide and popular road to serfdom, heading toward destruction.

    All socialism is bad, because 1. socialism cannot make real world economic decisions and 2. it will be corrupted by people intoxicated with power. Where people are free, they can counter the Evil Bastard, as our host puts it. Where they can’t is when the Evil Bastard is the corporation known as government, without outside intervention.

    I’d trust that private company, up to a point, which cannot be a monopoly unless government gets involved; since a private company cannot compel me without my assent, nor can I compel them. Government, on the other hand, can compel the ‘private’ company and me through the use of force.

    Free markets are real-time self-regulating damped-driven deterministic systems; and governments are not.

    Our host asks if there is a solution to the quandary. There is a partial solution, but many are not going to like it. As long as humanity is a flawed and mutable creature, reality says that that’s just the way it is. Part of the way forward is to stop being jealous, envious, covetous and greedy, where greed is getting something for nothing (IOW not exchanging value for value voluntarily) or getting what’s not yours by forcibly taking it from others.

  155. philjourdan says:

    Look at the Scandinavian countries. They are now rated as better places to live than America, with its sums, so many homeless,

    Sums? 1+1=2?

    Yes, they are more desirable to live – if you do not mind no-go zones. And they are failing. Sweden is on the verge of collapse because of the few (yes FEW – compared to the US) immigrants who are sucking their welfare system dry. Leaving those who support it to have nothing in the safety net.

    Rot starts on the inside and is not visible until the structure is on the verge of collapse (or is in a state of Collapse). You are welcome to go to Sweden. Try Tynnered.

  156. cdquarles wrote: “I’d rather be a felon in the USA than a subject in Sweden ”
    Makes me think you need to get back on your meds.

    RAH- RAH. Let’s vitrify N. Korea and Iran and make America GREAT again.
    Not much more than a 40% chance it will start WW 3.

  157. Larry Ledwick says:

    They are only rated as more desirable places to live because they are using a sanitized picture of life in those countries to evaluate them. They are places where you can lose your job and be black listed for making a trivial comment on social media, a place where the government can take away your children if you dare to try to home school. A place where the government tells women not to go out at night to avoid being assaulted or killed by muggers, imported by the government. Places where the police are almost in revolt because they cannot arrest the violent immigrants and in many places cannot even patrol some neighborhoods without getting their patrol car stoned or burned. If you watch alternate media that is actually reporting what is going on there it is a nightmare – the idyllic Scandinavia of the 1970’s and shortly after is gone. They are headed for a major social blowup and riots at the current pace.

  158. “Sums? 1+1=2?” Should have been slums of course. With macular degeneration I can’t see the letter I’m looking at only letters next to that. So I miss a lot of typos.

  159. Larry,
    That was not the impression I got when I visited the Scandinavian countries. I am a few years ouf of date and can imagine a large influx of refugees could upset things. Another thing to lay at the door of America’s foreign policies.

  160. catweazle666 says:

    “Many seem to miss the point biased by thinking all socialism is wrong. Look at the Scandinavian countries.”

    Scandinavian countries are not socialist countries, they are social democracies, which are a different kettle of fish altogether.

  161. Larry,
    Speisa is a right wing English channel in Sweden,
    “The question of credibility is increasingly been raised as false news reports are increasingly been planted and shared, to get more traffic.” ie click bate.

    See http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Sweden/United-States/Crime/Violent-crime
    91 murders in Sweden, 12,996 in America.

  162. Larry Ledwick says:

    Another thing to lay at the door of the EU and Merkel’s immigration policies.

    Fixed that typo for you.

  163. catweazle666
    England was a supposedly democratic socialist government under Wilson, but is was a disaster. Most socialist governments don’t work well. but that is because of the politicians that run them. There are some good things in the idea if applied properly.

  164. philjourdan says:

    @Adrian – we all suffer from that. And I ask your indulgence since I forgot the :-)

    I just found it amusing.

  165. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian:

    Unfortunately, neither a truly free and competitive market nor a pure socialist system works ideally. There may not be an ideal. I’m just tossing rocks at things I don’t like, not advocating that I have The One True Way.

    @cdquarles:

    “Again, though, EM, as I told you, HIPAA does not allow charging different amounts to different insurance companies. Thus everyone gets charged *one* *HIGH* price, with locality differentials, that essentially no-one pays”

    Yes, I got that many many months or years ago. The problem is in the “that no-one pays”. A “one price” that gets changed is not a One Price…

    You then go into the machinations and pain and suffering involved in all the fighting over what the real final payment really becomes.

    I’m not saying you are wrong, nor am I ignoring HIPPA as law; I am pointing out that what is IMHO really needed is a real ONE AND ONLY ONE price charged by a given vendor for a given service or product and any “discrepancy” in the payment only come via a formal and observable “Welfare Program” and not via playing games with discounts, rebates, failure to pays, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc…. All that paperwork in the billing department…

    FWIW, at one time in my life, I was working in Patient Accounting for a couple of years filing all that crap into the billing jackets at a major hospital.

    “Different insurance companies set their own maximum allowable charge then pays a discounted amount. The contracts don’t allow the providers to bill patients the total difference.”

    So that means there is a “for show” price, then a “Insurance Co. A” price and an “Insurance Co. B” price and a “paid by patient” price and they wander around… Not exactly “ONE REAL Price”.

    @Per One Payer & Socialized Medicine:

    The basic problem is that it is inhumane to let people die because they don’t have enough shekels. Poverty ought not be a terminal disease.

    That, then, means some kind of “3rd partying the costs” must happen.

    Choices:

    1) Make everyone go on the “dole” so nobody feels like they are being singled out and so everyone feels like they get something for free.

    2) Hide the costs in the bills of those able to pay via price inflation.

    3) Explicitly provide medical care payments in a formal welfare program for the needy.

    4) Force healthy people to fund hidden welfare via “must buy” insurance at excessive rates. Use this surplus to pay for “insurance” for folks who get sick a lot without much money.

    #1 is Socialized medicine. It ends up with too much cost for too little care. There are then incentives to deny care to folks in their later years. Inevitably, you end up with death boards (though called other things) and allot scarce medical talent via rationing. It does take time, but you must end up there since there is a functionally infinite demand for medical treatment as end of life approaches and a finite supply.

    #2 Was the way it ran in the 60s and up until HIPPA. HIPPA tried to stop that, sort of, but mostly just shifted the game to a nightmare of paper as described above by cdquarles. This, then, started to break down.

    #4 is Obamacare.

    #3 is Medicare (though the welfare aspect is hidden in ‘treatment for all old’) and things like Medicaid and MediCal (State program in California). It has not been extended effectively to the whole community as costs ran to astounding levels. Medicare and related then started to cut back on what they would pay (as THEY didn’t want to be the Fat Wallet getting soaked either).

    The simple fact is that there is far far more total need / want / demand for medical treatment than there is ability to provide it. In some way shape or form, you must limit the demand to match the supply. That can be done by making the prices high enough to drop demand, or by rationing access. Since socialized medicine sets price at near zero, the demand must be limited by rules on access, long wait times, unpleasant processes, clinics a week or two in the future, or similar. The rest is just attempts to deny that reality and hide the true nature of things.

    I would propose raising the supply of medical providers as one side of the “fix”. I’d even be willing to swallow hard and suggest direct subsidy of medical students and schools. CDQuarles doesn’t like that as he thinks P.A.s are enough, but the reality is that there is no upper bound on demand for doctors for the foreseeable generation or two.

    On the demand side, I’d suggest making real costs visible via published prices (that are actually what gets billed and paid by someone). HIPPA starts the thing, but we tried to have this bastard hybrid where the insurance companies were not forced to be price takers but could also be price setters. The result is a mess.

    Then I would make a formal Medical Welfare system to cover the gap. Not just something where you show up and say “I’m poor, cover me”, but something where you pay your part, your insurance pays their part, then a means test is applied and when medical costs exceed whatever we, collectively, decide is fair for everyone (Say 30% of your annual income) that goes to the welfare system and this is made public (perhaps not per-person, but on a county by county annual report or some such showing how much welfare is paid to which providers so abuse can be spotted more readily.)

    Between everyone who does have some ability to pay facing real prices at the counter and on the published price menu, insurance companies knowing they are exposed to those prices, and the pain of taking a 30% income hit in a year, folks WOULD act like they had a market and shop a bit more. Yet we still do not condemn the sick to suffer or die from lack of income (nor do we need to depend on Doctors donating services to the poor as was once customary).

    You can dress this up with all sorts of expansions (like returning to a County Hospital system for the fully indigent where they are shifted out of the more commercial hospitals with a profit motive and higher costs) or having a published schedule of what is not covered as a rationing process; but somehow you must balance supply and demand and recognize that price structure matters in that process.

    Oh, and recognize that hidden welfare just does not work. All it does is break the parts of the market that do work.

    BTW: My dislike of socialized medicine is not from ignorance. My UK family had some horror stories. Between it killing my favorite uncle on the operating table for a ‘routine’ surgery to my Aunt being told they were considering doing a knee replacement on her good knee since her bad knee was causing her to stress it more (but not going to do a knee replacement on the actually bad one… until howls of “Are you idiots?” got them to think for just a moment…) to them then delaying the whole thing so long she took a fall and ended up bedridden so then there was no need for knee replacement… It was all about finding ways to “ration” medical treatment so as to minimize costs. Patient be damned. I experienced this once for a “sty” on my eyelid. Three visits and nothing done. Finally paid £10 to a semi-retired old german lady doctor in private practice to be told to put a hot compress on it (that actually worked!) as she could no longer do the small hand movements to scrape out the cyst. But my non-care in the medical service facilities was “free”… When I was about 8 my Dad fixed one by lancing it with a needle… these are not hard things to treat.

    So, in summary:

    Since a free market has outcomes that hurt the poor more than moral folks can stand.
    Since a socialized system has a product that’s dodgy at best and high costs.
    Since a hidden welfare system inside a market system results in spectacular prices and systemic collapse.

    My suggestion is really just to keep the market system for everyone who can pay, and set a “reasonable” point where a Medical Welfare system steps in and provides the gap filling.

    Would it work? Don’t know. But it’s about the only thing we have not yet tried.

  166. Larry “Another thing to lay at the door of the EU and Merkel’s immigration policies.”

    News to me. I thought it was the US that invaded Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and started the war in Syria and is helping Saudi destroy Yemen. You think it was Europe? Really?
    What supermarket tabloid did you read that in? Maybe Speisa?

  167. E.M.Smith says:

    “Most socialist governments don’t work well. but that is because of the politicians that run them. There are some good things in the idea if applied properly.”

    And that’s the root of the whole problem. The folks that run them. Eventually an Evil Bastard type (or cabal of them) rises to power and they collapse. There isn’t a lot of redundancy available when The Government runs everything.

    Even the “3rd Way Market Socialisms” eventually suffer from this. It takes longer as there are some market forces at work, but the end is the same. (IFF it doesn’t blow up rapidly due to getting into wars of empire building…)

    Then there’s that whole idea of “just need to apply it properly” where nobody has ever figured out how to do that for more than about 30 to 50 years. I’d rather not have my country collapse every generation “until they get it right”… Once someone has a working socialism that does not decay into either rubble or tyranny and lasts for 200 years, call me… Until then I’ll take my free market republic with regulation only where needed to prevent abuses.

  168. jim2 says:

    Norway works because they produce and export petroleum, all the while claiming to be “green” because most electricity there is generated by hydro. Hypocrites. When their oil runs out, we’ll see how well their “socialism” works.

  169. catweazle666 says:

    “There are some good things in the idea if applied properly.”

    Ah, that hoary old chestnut again, “socialism is really marvellous, it hasn’t been implemented properly yet”.

    If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard some blinkered idealist (invariably one with a comfortable middle-class lifestyle) come out with that…

    Perhaps you could try telling that to the one hundred to two hundred million of its own people that the religion that swapped deism for ‘the State’ killed during the Twentieth century as speedbumps on the highway to the Glorious Socialist Workers’ Paradise, or ask the North Koreans or the Venezuelans, they’re still suffering.

    Fact is, Socialism is just a concept to you, I saw real Socialism when I travelled behind the Iron Curtain in the mid-1960s, complete with Zim lanes (I bet you don’t know what they were, do you)?

    The first impressive thing about the Iron Curtain was the border, an elaborate affair of multiple lanes of barbed wire-bordered strips containing mine fields, doh runs and raked sand, dominated by regularly spaced goon towers with machine guns and searchlights.

    It was also very clear that all that was not there to prevent us Capitalists from entering the Workers’ Paradise, it was to keep the proletariat in, check this to see how hard some of those proletariat tried.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deaths_at_the_Berlin_Wall

    As to “England was a supposedly democratic socialist government under Wilson, but is was a disaster”, first of all, you have changed the goalposts, there is a World of difference between a Socialist government and a socially democratic government, I was there at the time, and it was not by any stretch of imagination a true Socialist regime because we were able to vote it out. Anyway, it wasn’t Wilson who was the problem (NOT by any stretch of imagination a catastrophe), it was the combination of Heath and Callaghan that caused the really serious unrest when the hard-core Soviet-backed Communist trade unions made their ill-fated bid for power.

    You see, the thing about Socialists that will invariably doom any attempt to impose themselves on the population is that they don’t believe in human nature, as simple as that.

  170. catweazle666 says:

    “You think it was Europe? Really?”

    Did you ever hear of “the Coalition of the Willing” that comprised the allies that participated in the attack on Iraq?

    Here you go!

    Albania Provided overflight rights for U.S. warplanes; signed February 5th letter of support; offered 70 non-combat soldiers.8

    Australia Provided 2,000 troops; 14 Hornet fighter jets; transport ships.8

    Bahrain Base for U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet

    Britain 42,000 troops; ships and planes.

    Bulgaria Decontamination forces; overflight rights; Black Sea base; signed February 5th letter of support.

    Croatia Signed February 5th letter of support.

    Czech Republic Decontamination forces; overflight rights; signed January 30th letter of support.

    Denmark Offering 50-100 special operations troops; signed January 30th letter of support. Deployed a submarine and small naval destroyer.[6]

    Egypt Access to air bases, Suez Canal, Overflight permissions.[7]

    Eritrea Public political support

    Estonia Signed February 5th letter of support.

    Ethiopia Public political support

    Hungary Use of base for training Iraqi opposition; possible overflight rights; signed January 30th letter of support.

    Iceland Public political support

    Israel Bases for Patriot missile batteries; storage of arms and other material.

    Italy NATO and Italian bases; overflight rights; signed January 30th letter of support.

    Kuwait Bases for about 70,000 U.S. troops.

    Japan Post-conflict reconstruction assistance[8]

    Jordan Quietly hosting U.S. commandos.

    Latvia Signed February 5th letter of support.

    Lithuania Overflight rights; signed February 5th letter of support.

    Macedonia Signed February 5th letter of support.

    Netherlands Non-combat troops; Patriot missile batteries to defend Turkey.8

    Oman Bases for warplanes and about 28,000 U.S. personnel.

    Palau Public political support.

    Poland Signed January 30th letter of support; 1,500 peace-keeping troops.12

    Portugal NATO bases and Portuguese air base in the Azores; signed January 30th letter of support.

    Qatar Central Command headquarters; bases for 3,500 U.S. military and warplanes.

    Romania Special operations teams; signed February 5th letter of support; Opened airspace and strategic ports on the Black Sea.8

    Saudi Arabia U.S. air command center at Prince Sultan Air Base outside Riyadh.

    Singapore Public support of the invasion[9]

    Slovakia Signed February 5th letter of support.

    Slovenia Signed February 5th letter of support.

    Spain Bases at Rota and Moron; signed January 30th letter of support; non-combat troops.

    United Arab Emirates. 3,000 troops; bases, ports for U.S. warplanes and ships.

    Turkey NATO air bases

    https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297a/The%20Coalition%20of%20the%20Willing.htm

    You really have it in for your mother country, the United States of America, don’t you?

    You really haven’t the first idea what you’re wittering about.

  171. Larry Ledwick says:

    The refugee crisis is an intentionally manufactured crisis. It costs 1/10th as much to support a refugee locally than it does to ship them to europe and support them as refugees. If the powers that be really wanted to help refugees they would have built camps and created safe zones in the Middle East rather than encouraging migration. They intentionally created a silent invasion to “diversify Europe” There is a political agenda behind the refugee crisis and it is not to make life easy for the refugees.

    If you read the club of Rome report “Limits to Growth” written in 1972 they said that massive migration from the third world to Europe would be one of the results of the demographics of population growth.

    This was an intentional end state of the globalist agenda for 45 years it is not accidental!

  172. cdquarles says:

    Um, EM, medical schools and students are subsidized now. Part of that high price covers that, too.
    PAs have been around for quite some time. Nurse Practitioners have not. They’ve become a thing since the 1990s.

    Now about expanding the pool of applicants, what will happen admission standards are lowered, which they will have to be (and likely already have since the general standards have declined in my own lifetime)?

  173. Larry Ledwick says:

    Maybe you will believe a Swedish police source:

    Mats Karlsson
    @MkarlssonPOMA
    Asst. Police Area Manager at Malmö Police and Head of Mission in Special Events. Recently, from 6 months of staff training at the Government Offices (Police Unit)

    Scary picture of the number of illegal weapons as we take in the seizure in Malmö. Please consider that several who bore these arms were released after interrogation

    Well if the constituent elements of particularly serious weapons offences be changed so that the number of weapons is not governing without the hazard rate (example, rate of fire, muzzle velocity of the bullet, etc.) are also taken into account http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artikel=6846437

    https://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artikel=6846437

    This connection is timing out right now – a Swedish police unit was blown up today with a powerful bomb.

    https://polisen.se/Skane/Aktuellt/Handelser/Skane/2017-12-29-1925-Detonation-Malmo/

    Very serious attack against police in Malmo. Anyone who knows anything that may lead to the offender should contact police. I feel the Malmö police right so you will not to back away, but set hard against hard and increase pressure against the criminals. https://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/a/l1E8py/polisbil-sprangd-utanfor-polishus-i-malmo

    https://pbs.twimg.com/card_img/946816750586421248/p7PolmC-?format=jpg&name=600×314

    Citizen comments on twitter (translated):
    @johanssonmorgan This is your area of responsibility, Morgan Johansson. An irresponsible immigration policy and a dysfunctional police organization has lead to this anarchy that now affects Swedish people. (S) responsible for this failure, and the voters will remember on election day 2018.

    @johanssonmorgan “I feel the Malmo police right so you will not to back off the hook for this,” Morgan, surely this is a basic requirement and not just a hope we have in a State of law? @svpol #medborgsamling #MEDval18

    @johanssonmorgan RESIGN NOW! THE WHOLE SOCIALIST REGIME STEP DOWN. IT HAS GONE TOO FAR.
    YOU ARE INCOMPETENT TO LEAD THE COUNTRY. THE ONLY THING YOU CAN IS TO THROW THE OLD PHRASES SO RESIGN NOW!!!!!!! 😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡

    @johanssonmorgan Convinced that the Malmo police already do an excellent job and put “hard against hard”. But with a poor organization and bad with resources (including fewer police officers) is the criminal always a step ahead.

    @cajsa123 @johanssonmorgan Add a RPC that delivers more than denials, Earle has a history with sweeping things under the carpet, the Swedish police force deserves better than that.
    It’s so time to call the Fire Department when the House is nerbrunnet.

    @johanssonmorgan Now it’s just a matter of time before Swedish police officers murdered in the streets.

    The criminal has zero respect for the Swedish police.

    Policymakers must at some point be held responsible for this dismal trend.

    “Dialogue coffee” and barbecue is apparently not worked.

  174. EMS,
    “The simple fact is that there is far far more total need / want / demand for medical treatment than there is ability to provide it.”

    While that is true for many during the last six months pf life, I would rather die in peace than waste away on a hospital bed, covered with tubes, until the system had drained my last dime.

    No ,matter how you describe the problems, American healthcare is an expensive disaster.
    It may not be perfect but why not try something like the Singapore system at a tiny fraction of the cost, with better outcomes?

    Answer: the donor driven GOP (& those here who have a religious belief in free enterprise) would never allow it..

  175. pouncer says:

    Adrian tells us:
    “Most socialist governments don’t work well. but that is because of the politicians that run them.”

    Let’s review. All economies allocate scarce resources among competing uses. A theft-based economy has each user take whatever he or she can grab and hold. This is not about human morality — a tree will take as much sunlight as it can without regard to the needs of the moss and grass and other greenery the tree “shades” or “steals valuable sunlight from”. The theft process has one actor. A gift-based economy has one giver allocate, however it will, however much it can. Again, this is descriptive, not prescriptive, and neither moral nor immoral. An oak tree makes acorns and gives them to the next generation of oaks, or to squirrels, or to rot in the dirt as humus. But the tree “decides” based on the sunlight and carbon and whatever. One actor, again. A market or “trade-based” economy is described with TWO actors. The notion or mental model of “trade” is so useful economists use it even to describe other forms of economics — “gifts” and “thefts” are often referred to as “half-trades”. Loans are “deferred half-trades”.

    Socialists consider the market and traders and observe that there are flaws. One trader is offering durable resources or product, as valuable Tuesday as Monday; the other offers a perishable resource — in the critique, usually “labor” — with value of zero if not used the day offered. One trader has material advantage, or assymetrical information, or class privilege, or political clout, etc etc. So a market trade is often not “fair”, and needs a remedy.

    Please observe, now that we have at least THREE actors involved in the allocation. Two traders and at least one socialist. The socialist is the analyst who declares what is and isn’t “fair”.

    THREE is the best case scenario. A tyrant or dictator — Henry Ford or Andrew Carnegie or somebody like that — comes along and decides on behalf of the bank and the laborer and the customer and all other pairs of traders what the costs SHOULD be, allocates them according to some personal theory or another (Carnegie called his theory “cost accounting”) about what each SHOULD get and SHOULD pay, publishes the numbers,and refuses to budge. (Ronald Coase calls this kind of tyranny “minimizing transaction costs” and the system so ruled “the firm”.) For small enough enterprises it can work pretty well. But the system does result in the socialist tyrant winding up with a pile of resources in exchange, basically, for his “work” as an appraiser, allocator, asset-extractor, and enforcer. It’s NOT for his contribution of labor or material. And along with the accumulated wealth, the third party in this sort of market gets labeled the “robber baron” or “greedy bastard” who causes misery, discourages progress, and should be put up the wall for the firing squad.

    So, then we come to a central committee. A division of — well, not labor — functions, wherein the process of appraisal is assigned to one commmittee person, the process of collecting or extracting materal assigned to another, the process of getting workers to actually work assigned to still another, the job of recording it all for the committee to exchange notes is assigned to still another and of course the more-equal-than-everybody-else chairman of the committee reserves to himself the onerous duty of making these assignments. For the sake of this discussion assume I’ve identified all the necessary parties — 1 half-trader in capital, 1 half-trader in labor, 1 appraiser, 1 “banker” collecting the capital, 1 “overseer” supervising the workers, 1 “historian”, and 1 person we’ll simply call “STALIN”, for short. Seven people doing the (now perfect) allocation of resources formerly (and badly attempted) allocation two people used to do for themselves.

    We call enterprises so constructed either “corporations” (with a “board of governors”) or, alternately, “socialist republics”.

    We say of the five of seven participants in this process who contribute nothing but judgments of fairness and social justice, that they are “political” and we suppose that we don’t get good results because these people have hidden evil in their hearts. It’s not because we’ve taken five of seven contributors to society out of society and set them apart from their own society while making their support a responsibility of the remaining two actively market-trading members of the society.

    So Adrian, you seem to be the most familar of current commenters here with “socialism” — have I described its place among alternative methods of economic distribution “unfairly” ?

  176. E.M.Smith says:

    @CDQuarles:

    Do I really have to keep decorating things with dozens of adjectives to assure nobody misses a beat? EVERYTHING has some kind of subsidy in it to some degree (via indirect means like public roads, ports, air traffic control, media access to spectrum, etc. etc. or via direct means); so my statement was about even more added direct subsidy. (And people already complain at me for being too prolix and writing too long a comment or post…)

    Per “lowering standards”: IMHO a misdirection. I was one of those kept out by the process. I entered UC as a Pre-Med major (and with my home town doctor having encouraged me by telling me he thought I had what it took, given my questions whenever I’d see him). There were something like 400+ students in Chem 1A per section and several sections. Realize we were already in the top 9% of the nation upon entry to UC at all. By Chem 1 D we were down to 200 or so students in one section. Chem was the first “separator”. THEN you went to the upper division biochem and physiology separators. AFTER all that, there were 200 applicants who had made it past all the separators and had stellar enough grades in the process to apply for each ONE slot in Med School… I don’t buy it for a minute that the folks I was competing with were not competent to become doctors.

    I’ve assessed the technical competence of every doctor I’ve ever had. A few of them are brighter than me, most of them not (though still pretty bright). None of them was truly dumb, but a couple were of limited competence. (One, a Indian guy at a “Doc In The Box” screwed up my perfect butterfly closure to make horridly misaligned stitches in a cut on my palm. I was tempted to rip them out and re-do it myself. Given the scar and slower than optimal healing, I wish I had.)

    IMHO a doubling of the acceptance band would still not be having any “stinkers” getting in. You would be moving from 0.01 % to 0.02 % or so… Insignificant impact. ( I’m 99.9+ percentile on most aptitude measures, and I’m in the “didn’t make it” group… so I’m pretty sure those fractional percents are not that far off. Then again, I went to the Med School and saw how neurotically devoted you had to be to either medicine or money to make it, and I was working in the teaching hospital and saw how dismal the work environment was, so somewhat self selected out…) I typically arrive at the doctors office with the diagnosis already done and an expected treatment plan. I’ve rarely been wrong (though sometimes have not had the equipment to choose between possibles so present the expected list of choices). That without training… So I’m quite certain the folks who were “better than me” and had training would be just fine.

    @Adrian:

    I’ve had excellent health care my entire life under this system. Better than I got in any other country. All very affordable to me. (Then again, I’ve generally bought insurance, but when I was a kid we didn’t have any. Then again, that was prior to the hidden welfare being pushed into the system.)

    So I flat out reject your claim that this health care system is a “disaster”. I worked in it for several years (admission clerk, billing clerk, medical records technician, medical billing software programmer, medial insurance Disaster Recovery Site design and build) so I’ve got some time in the saddle too. It has problems (mostly due to wedging hidden welfare into it and breaking the market function signals) but still works mighty darned well. My sister walks thanks to an artificial knee joint. I hear thanks to surgically reconstructed ear drums. My best buddy is alive thanks to rapid stent insertion during a heart attack. I have two children and a live happy spouse thanks to expert C-section deliveries after labor wasn’t working. It’s a long list of successes, and not one of us was put in the poor house by it.

    “Better Outcomes” has so much wiggle room in it as it’s all statistics based that I’d not trust it, nor even get into a stats argument over it. At the UC teaching hospital were I worked on the wards in the doctors lounge (medical records QA) I saw miracles worked every day. Folks who came in on stretchers or wheelchairs and walked out a few days later with new joints or fixed bones. One kid from a motorcycle where they put is leg back together out of the dozens of bits of bones. I’ve seen the outcomes. They are pretty darned good. (Not even counting the little ones like the kidney stones dealt with rapidly instead of cheaply ‘letting them pass’ – in agony – and the stabilizing of an infant presenting with croup so severe he could barely breath). Play with the stats all you want; I’ll take the evaluation of the folks as they check out.

    @Pouncer:

    One of the lesser discussed failure modes of socialism is due, IMHO, to limitations of information flow and processing ability. With 1,000,000 hot dog carts in the USA independently deciding what hot dogs to stock, what condiments, what hours and prices and such, you get highly tailored responses to the 100,000,000 folks buying hot dogs. The total number of decisions / day running somewhere up around 1,000,000,000 as folks decide how much, what mustard, which pickles, what bun, toasted or not, kosher or not, etc etc etc. Now the Socialist Central Planner is going to be making those same decisions. Think that the Hotdog Committee has any hope in hell of getting a Billion decisions / day “right”? Nope. Best they can to is settle on a couple of dog, bun, and condiment “standards” and ship fixed planned lots to each location…

    IMHO, that is THE basic thing that makes a market vastly superior to a Central Planned economy (no matter what you call it – dictatorship, monarchy, socialism, blah blah blah). Every single business is making thousands of decisions per day, as are their several hundred customers per day and their dozens of suppliers and THEIR suppliers and more. It just is not possible to route all the necessary information flow to a central point for decision making and even if you could, it would be impossible to get the decisions made. Inevitably it locks up, has shortages, fails to anticipate, and the Central Planning gets stuck in a rut of failure and blandness. All from information flow and decision limits.

  177. pouncer,
    You are wrong in several places. Socialism’s basic idea is to share some of the wealth without removing too much of the incentive to work and make more money. It usually fails to reach a workable balance.

    America exports more misery than the rest of the world put together. 13 wars in 30 years at a cost of $12.4 trillion. Trump recently boasted that the additional arms sales to Saudi, illegally fighting (according to UN) Yemen, now thought to be the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, is a good thing as it will bring more profit to the arms manufacturers.
    You are in favor of such “free trade” that the strongest impose on the weaker. What large corporations often do is just a milder form of that.

  178. jim2 says:

    Adrian Ashfield says:
    “Socialism’s basic idea is to share some of the wealth without removing too much of the incentive to work and make more money. ”

    That looks more like YOUR definition of socialism. Unfortunately, other’s mileage will vary widely.

  179. EMS,
    “So I flat out reject your claim that this health care system is a “disaster”

    I should have defined it better. The actual practice of medicine is generally good and most of the time insurance works for those that have it. Even though I had very good corporate insurance when my 13 year old son got cancer and died I was billed $100k. Every other kid in his ward we got to know died too. I don’t think there has been much progress with the major killers like heart disease and cancer although there is hope on the horizon.

    Why I think it a disaster is the high cost (2 to 8 times more than other countries,) the millions that xan’t afford insurance, things like pre-existing conditions making you ineligible, the reams of unnecessary paper work, the huge variation in pricing depending who you are, the inability to find out what the cost will be ahead of time,ertc, etc.
    I’m looking forward to AI diagnoses and being able to get basic treatment without even seeing a doctor. Meanwhile America should learn from what other countries are doing and doesn’t do that.

  180. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian:

    Um, first off it isn’t sharing “some” of the wealth…

    http://www.worldsocialism.org/english/what-socialism

    What is Socialism?

    Central to the meaning of socialism is common ownership. This means the resources of the world being owned in common by the entire global population.

    But does it really make sense for everybody to own everything in common? Of course, some goods tend to be for personal consumption, rather than to share—clothes, for example. People ‘owning’ certain personal possessions does not contradict the principle of a society based upon common ownership.

    In practice, common ownership will mean everybody having the right to participate in decisions on how global resources will be used. It means nobody being able to take personal control of resources, beyond their own personal possessions.

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/socialism

    Socialism, social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. According to the socialist view, individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another. Furthermore, everything that people produce is in some sense a social product, and everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members.

    There are various kinds of “Socialism Lite” tried from time to time in an attempt to find a softer entry point or an easier onramp to total public ownership, but they just take longer to fail.

    Read your Marx & Lennin, please…. You can’t understand Socialism if you do not read the foundational thinkers.

    This is also the fundamental root of the failure of Socialism. It leads to the ruin of the commons as all is in common ownership. It also leads to the rise of the sociopathic leadership lusting after that central point of control and power.

    At a more fundamental level, it leads to dramatic mal-investment. The “marginal propensity to invest” is a critical factor. Rich folks invest more than they consume. Poor folks consume all they can. It is simply impossible to have enough investment without rich people in a free society. Under socialism, all that investment is supposed to be done by the Central Authority (whatever you call it) and they simply cannot make as many and as good a decision set as the distributed decision making of millions of rich folks closely watching their investments.

    I don’t LIKE that fact, but it is a fact.

    So under Stalin great strides were made in Russia and the USSR. It came at the cost of millions of lives, essentially slave labor conditions, and an over emphasis on some things (like steel and weapons and oil) over others like consumer goods and food. Similar things can be said about Mao and China. Pol Pot in Cambodia. And most recently Venezuela. It is an endemic failure mode.

    Per the USA “exporting misery”:

    So you think letting tyranny run rampant will result in a wonderful world for all, eh?

    I think we tried that and had two world wars as a result. Then we started being pro-active and had a long cold war. Increasing the military effort ended that. More recently we’ve had only minor regional conflicts. I’d measure that as progress. Slow, sure, but steady. I’ll take “no world wars” and no threat of immediate nuclear destruction over the alternative any day… Now if you can just find a GUARANTEED way to assuring no psychopathic nutjob takes over a country and once again tries to install International Socialism or National Socialism on all the rest of us, we might have something to talk about… but given Chinese expansionism and N. Korean nuclear desires and Islamic Pan Nationalism and more; it sure looks to me like “keep the mess in their own back yard by force of arms” is working pretty good and “ignore and placate” would have us in another world war.

  181. Jin2,
    I’m not in favor of the government running most industries. The alternative is communism that doesn’t work. The few exceptions like healthcare, SS,and public transport seem to work pretty well.
    The American welfare systems are poor IMHO. I don’t know what the answer is, but think UBI might be better. Something like that will be necessary in the future as AI and robotics cause more unemployment.

  182. EMS,
    ‘”Um, first off it isn’t sharing “some” of the wealth…”

    The idea of everybody owning the wealth is communism. We all know that doesn’t work.
    The problem with democratic socialism is, like democracy, 51% can vote themselves to take what the other 49% has earned or acquired. So maybe I favor a “light” form of socialism?
    The problem is the pendulum has swung to far to the right. When you look at the income inequality and the amount of wealth of the richest 1%, history show that unless this is corrected there will be a revolution.

    “So you think letting tyranny run rampant will result in a wonderful world for all, eh?”

    No, you miss the point entirely. Only if one country attacks or invades another is war ALWAYS necessary. Look at what America has done. Iraq was never a threat to America. Do you really think they are better off after the US flattened them and killed and wounded millions, that they would have been left under Saddam? In most cases we should stay out of other country’s internal affairs and let them sort it out themselves. Evil leaders die eventually.
    N.Korea is threatening us by building a dozen nuclear weapons? Next you will tell me America is not threatening them with 7,000 nuclear weapons and their well known policy of regime change. America would love a unified Korea where they could place missiles right next to China’s boundary. Look at what we promised and what we did when the USSR was dissolved. Got to play up the threats to justify $700 billion a year on “defense.”

    Should a country like N.Korea attack us they would be vitrified in a day, as they know very well. In fact America is itching to do that according to Trump and may even manufacture an excuse to do just that.. Likewise Iran. I suppose it is OK for us to support our allies with weapons and troops but it is reason for war if another country does it? More likely it is Israel running our foreign policy in the M.E.

  183. E.M.Smith says:

    Adrian,

    You really need to read your communist literature more. Communism is synonymous with International Socialism. That is why the USSR was a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and why their anthem was The Internationale. while the political party was the Communist Party.

    What do we find when we ask Good Communists what they support? Why, Socialism… (bold by me)
    http://www.cpusa.org/education/

    Video: The October Revolution and the struggle for socialism

    The revolution is St. Petersburg in 1917 changed reverberated throughout the United States.
    BY: Communist Party USA October 6, 2017

    The bottom tag line on at least many pages is:

    For democracy. For equality. For socialism. For a sustainable future and a world that puts people before profits. Join the Communist Party USA today.

    http://www.cpusa.org/about-us/

    Socialism in the USA

    Socialism is a common-sense path to a fairer, more prosperous and more democratic USA. The fight for socialism is a dynamic process to fulfill the vision of a future of peace, justice and fairness for our nation and our world.
    Learn More

    International Socialism is functionally a synonym for Communism.

    http://www.internationalsocialist.org/about/what-we-do

    What we do

    The ISO is building a socialist alternative in a world of poverty, oppression and war. Our organization participates in many different struggles for justice and liberation today, while working toward a future socialist society, free of all exploitation and oppression, and built on the principles of solidarity and democracy.

    We are a U.S. organization with branches and members in about 40 cities and connections to other socialists around the world. We organize in the here and now against injustice and for reforms that will benefit the working class and oppressed. These struggles are important in their own right, but they are also building blocks for a movement to achieve a socialist society. At our meetings and in our publications, we discuss the political issues and movements of today, along with the rich history of past struggles from below and the ideas of the Marxist tradition dedicated to achieving socialism.
    […]
    he ISO is dedicated to trying to bring about a completely different society, free of all oppression and built on the principles of solidarity and democracy. The very first job of our organization is to make the case for socialism—for a revolutionary society that uses the world’s vast resources to eradicate poverty, homelessness and every form of scarcity, and that allows the vast majority of people to control their world democratically.

    Since that didn’t work out so well every time it was tried, they have gone to various kinds of watered down socialisms. National Socialism (aka Nazi and Fascist regimes) didn’t work out so well either, so now “Nationalism” of any sort is being demonized… and they’ve moved on to Christian Socialism, Democratic Socialism, and a dozen other Socialisms. None of them has yet worked out all that well, but some of them are new enough to have not collapsed yet, so held up as great successes… until they auger in…

    Whatever internal definition of Socialism you have is clearly not anchored in the writings of the Socialists themselves (Marx, Lenin, etc) nor in the history (Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini all called themselves Socialists) nor in the writings of the present Socialists (as from the links above).

    It really is quite simple. In the beginning, the goal was One Global Socialism. That has not changed. It is called Communism in the end stages of the Marxist progression. It was tried and we had the Russian Revolution. Then the idea of taking it one nation at a time got traction as a stepping stone to the final International Socialism. That didn’t work out so well and we had W.W.II as a result. Now it has morphed into a kind of Socialism Lite (carefully avoiding the word National in any context due to bad memories of W.W.II) and is being tried again all over the place. Along the way China tried it, and was stagnant for a generation with horrid internal destruction. They, lately, have moved toward a market based system and done MUCH better, but that process is only temporary, the end state is not yet known.

    Finally, all sorts of “3rd Way” Market Socialism have been put forward as the great savior of Socialism. (Carefully ignoring that it was Fascist Mussolini who created the term “3rd Way” to describe his brand of Socialism and always adorned with some kind of disparagement of Nationalism as what must have caused it to go bad in Italy…). The most recent named Lange Type (and if you don’t know what that is, please look it up. I’ve posted it many times before.) as the current darling Market Socialism. It works better than International Socialism, but only due to adoption some of the capitalist market methods.

    Note that in NO case has the fundamental goal of an eventual fully integrated Global International Socialism been dropped. All the little Socialisms are just to be seen as stepping stones to the final glorious goal… (Not my words, it’s what the leading lights of Socialism say. Socialism is just a temporary state until you reach the final fully formed International Socialism aka Communism; in the doctrine as written by Marx and others.)

    Now you can try putting all the lipstick on this pig that you want, and try Yet Another Definition Shuffle to try to hide those realities, but there they sit.

    I’ve sunk more of my life into learning about Socialism than I ever wanted. (It is an economic system, so mandatory to getting your Econ degree to study it, too.) I’ve got my own copy of the Communist Manifesto and of Mein Kamph (and several more). I’m not just being some casual arm chair pundit spouting off without having done my homework (literally done the homework… it was assigned reading.)

    So please, go ask the Good Communists and Good Socialists what International Socialism is, what Marx said was the end state of Socialism, what they have as their final vision of the future. Read their published works. It isn’t ME saying the things quoted above. It is them. Their movement. Their words. Their ideas. Common ownership of the means of production “by all” and eventually to include an equal share in all the world.

  184. EMS,
    “Whatever internal definition of Socialism you have is clearly not anchored in the writings of the Socialists themselves (Marx, Lenin, etc) ”

    I’m not talking about that kind of “socialism.” What you describe there is communism in my book.
    I don’t care what others call themselves, like Global Warming changed to Climate Change when the warming didn’t match the models. By socialism, in the modern sense, I mean something like the Scandinavian countries have. And there are things I don’t agree with there as well. Are you claiming those that it is wrong to call them Socialist?

    I don’t care that In the beginning, the goal was One Global Socialism. I think that is a terrible idea.
    I think China is closer to socialism than capitalism and they still have a lot of government run industry a a hold over from communism. I still find they are improving faster than the US even though you claim this is an illusions because their GDP is lower. It won’t take many more years at 8% to prove the point.

    You keep setting up straw men that are easy to knock down. You can still have socialism without government owning most of industry. What is needed is a way to extract slightly more from the rich (tax) to pay for things that are good for the country, including passing on some of the productivity gains to the workers. The present government is not good at this because it wastes so much and is desperately inefficient. The basic problem is total lack of accountability.
    I ca’t do anything about that and it will not change until the voters wale up. Don’t hold your breath.

  185. E.M.Smith says:

    Adrian:

    So you don’t care what the foundational documents define as Socialism and you don’t care what the major practitioners of it call Socialism and you don’t care what economic education calls Socialism, you define it as what they have in Sweden. OK… It’s wrong, but OK… explains a lot.

    Sweden is a constitutional Monarchy with a Parliament and representatives of the people.

    The economy is a capitalism based “Mixed Economy” – Capitalism + Regulations with a very generous Welfare State (i.e. not socialism).

    The wikis are not bad:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_Sweden

    The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: Konungariket Sveriges regering) is the national cabinet and the supreme executive authority in Sweden. The short-form name Regeringen (“the Government”) is used both in the Fundamental Laws of the Realm and in the vernacular, while the long-form is only used in international treaties.

    The Government operates as a collegial body with collective responsibility and consists of the Prime Minister—appointed and dismissed by the Speaker of the Riksdag (following an actual vote in the Riksdag before an appointment can be made)—and other cabinet ministers (Swedish: Statsråd), appointed and dismissed at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister. The Government is responsible for its actions to the Riksdag.

    Following the adoption of the 1974 Instrument of Government on 1 January 1975—the Government in its present constitutional form was constituted—and in consequence thereof the Swedish Monarch is no longer vested any nominal executive powers at all with respect to the governance of the Realm, but continues to serve as a strictly ceremonial head of state.

    A constitutional monarchy with a representative executive branch.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Sweden

    The economy of Sweden is a developed export-oriented economy aided by timber, hydropower, and iron ore. These constitute the resource base of an economy oriented toward foreign trade. The main industries include motor vehicles, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, industrial machines, precision equipment, chemical goods, home goods and appliances, forestry, iron, and steel. Traditionally a modern agricultural economy that employed over half the domestic workforce, today Sweden further develops engineering, mine, steel, and pulp industries that are competitive internationally, as evidenced by companies like Ericsson, ASEA/ABB, SKF, Alfa Laval, AGA, and Dyno Nobel.

    Sweden is a competitive mixed economy featuring a generous universal welfare state
    financed through relatively high income taxes that ensures that income is distributed across the entire society, a model sometimes called the Nordic model. Approximately 90% of all resources and companies are privately owned, with a minority of 5% owned by the state and another 5% operating as either consumer or producer cooperatives.

    Because Sweden as a neutral country did not actively participate in World War II, it did not have to rebuild its economic base, banking system, and country as a whole, as did many other European countries. Sweden has achieved a high standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. Sweden has the second highest total tax revenue behind Denmark, as a share of the country’s income. As of 2012, total tax revenue was 44.2% of GDP, down from 48.3% in 2006.

    I remind folks that I’ve regularly stated my idea of the best we’ve done so far is a “mixed economy” based on capitalism with effective regulation. I also advocate for Welfare, but minimal needed for humanitarian necessities. So in reality, we are both arguing over “degree of Welfare” and you are mislabeling it ‘socialism’.

    You can argue about what level of Welfare Benefits are “a good thing” in a Welfare State, but that is NOT what makes a Socialist Government.

    Please, I implore you, learn the actual definition of Socialism and the key characteristics of it. Otherwise we will be in a “word means just what I want it to mean” world…

    Socialism has common ownership of the means of production (or in the Fascist 3rd Way variation, can have private ownership but Government control). That is NOT a private ownership capitalist economy with high taxes to fund a generous Welfare State.

  186. gallopingcamel says:

    @Adrian Ashfield,
    “I could go on, but it will have no effect. The donor class control Congress and are not interested in a cheaper, more efficient system. The GOP dogma that free enterprise is always best leaves little hope for a change.”

    If you think that the GOP believes in “Free Enterprise” you are sadly deluded. The GOP and the Democrats created the rampant “Crony Capitalism” that has destroyed US competitiveness in so many ways. Price gouging the sick is just one of the many outrages that crony capitalism has wrought.

    For example Big Pharma rips us off while the government makes no effort to jail the crooks who are responsible (e.g. McKesson).
    https://www.managedcaremag.com/system/files/storypdfs/MC_1604_or_drugcosts.pdf

  187. gallopingcamel says:

    I wrote what follows many years ago and may well have posted it here before, in which case my excuse is CRS (Can’t Remember S**t).

    THE NEW MAFIA

    In the fall of 1970 I visited the USA to exhibit electro-optic equipment at a trade show held in the New York Coliseum. On this, my first trip to the USA, I experienced more than just culture shock owing to arriving just in time to experience a hurricane; the Attica prison riots; plumes of smoke rising every day as apartment buildings were torched; dreadful roads; Carnegie Hall and other famous buildings falling apart. American gangster movies were quite popular in the United Kingdom back then but that did not prepare me for the reality of organized crime.
    Two large crates containing the equipment and literature needed for the show were sent over 3,000 miles by air from the United Kingdom to New York. My first task on arrival was to arrange transport for the crates from JFK to the New York Coliseum, a distance of 35 miles. The first trucking company quoted a price that was close to what I had paid for air freight across the Atlantic. The cost was so outrageous that I spent an entire day trying to get a reasonable quote from a dozen trucking companies until someone took pity on me and explained that there was only one price and it was set by La Cosa Nostra (LCN).
    In 1982 I emigrated to the USA to work in Manhattan. The freight rates out of JFK were still unreasonably high, a clear indication that the LCN had managed to retain control throughout the 12 years since my first visit. How was such a thing possible when it was common knowledge to everyone who did business via the New York airports? Over time I was to learn that the freight out of JFK was just a minor part of LCN operations involving 250 trucking companies supported by labor unions that controlled garbage collection, concrete, the garment business and much more.
    Although the services controlled by the LCN appeared to be run by independent companies there was no effective competition so from a customer’s standpoint it was like dealing with a monopoly. Consumers could complain though nothing would be done as long as the LCN was intimidating competitors while greasing its connections in government and law enforcement. The situation could have continued indefinitely if the FBI had not decided to mount a series of high profile operations targeting the Luchese crime family in the 1980s.
    While organized crime is still flourishing it is under increasing pressure from a variety of law enforcement agencies that use the publicity from prosecutions of major crime figures very effectively. Sadly, a new Mafia has risen up that poses a much greater threat to the people of this country than the old one ever could owing to its immense scale and the fact that it is not regarded as a criminal conspiracy. Nevertheless it involves the corruption of government at all levels and the exploitation of the general public, especially the most vulnerable of our citizens.
    If goods and services cost far more than is reasonable it is usually a sign that corruption is present. Corruption costs money and the cost is passed on to consumers. According to the National Coalition on Health Care medical expenditures in the USA amounted to $1.7 trillion in 2003 rising to an estimated $1.8 trillion in 2004. Our expenditures per capita are typically double those of our major trading competitors and comparisons are far less favorable with low cost providers of health care such as many Latin American countries. The rate of growth is even more alarming. In 1950 medical expenditures accounted for 5.2% of the GDP rising to 9.4% in 1975. By the year 2000 expenditures had risen to 15.4% of the GDP or roughly four times what is spent on national defense. In 2007, 62.1% of filers for bankruptcies claimed high medical expenses.[4] If the country is not capable of radically reforming the health sector the spending could well exceed 20% of GDP by 2025.
    To reduce this to things that matter to individual consumers I made comparisons of medical procedures for an uninsured person in Sarasota, Florida with comparable procedures in Mexico, Costa Rica and Colombia. Knee replacement surgery costing $46,000 in the USA can be had for under $10,000 in Costa Rica. A cranial MRI scan costing $700 in Sarasota not only cost much less in Bogota ($102) but involved much less hassle than one gets in the USA.
    How did things get so bad? According to several experts we are suffering from a perfect storm caused by the alignment of many powerful forces capable of manipulating the health care market to benefit themselves.
    The American Medical Association ensures high salaries for doctors by limiting the number of people trained in this country and placing barriers for foreign doctors who wish to practice here.
    The drug companies prefer developing products that will make money (e.g. Viagra) to working on ones that reduce human suffering.
    The Federal Drug Administration is a wholly owned subsidiary of the drug industry, working hard to prevent people from obtaining cheaper drugs.
    Health Management Organizations exist to make money while dragging down the quality of service experienced by the general public.
    Trial lawyers drive up the costs of malpractice litigation, getting rich while smugly pretending to be standing up for the victims of the medical colossus.
    The legislators produce laws that drive costs up while achieving little of value for anyone other than the lawyers and HMOs (remember HIPAA?).

    What can be done? The present system appears to be beyond hope of reform. The conspiracy is so huge and its members so powerful that there is no hope of it being declared a criminal enterprise. The medical industry will continue to increase its share of our GDP, pauperizing pensioners and destroying once mighty companies such as General Motors. At some point there will be a revolt; let it be soon.

  188. EMS,
    I know what I call socialism is not the old definition and I thought I had made that clear. When I was in England the government was called Socialist and I felt the common understanding of the word had changed.
    “thefederalist.com/2016/02/15/why-so-many-millennials-are-socialists/
    With so few able to define socialism, perhaps less surprisingly a Reason-Rupe national survey found college-aged millennials were about as likely to have a favorable view of socialism (58 percent) as they were about capitalism (56 percent). While attitudes toward capitalism remain fairly constant across.. ”

    So technically you are right and I would settle for a “competitive mixed economy featuring a generous universal welfare state.” But I need a name for that.
    I think the American welfare system sucks in many ways ad the right wing politicians delight in calling any major change, like a single payer health system, Socialism.

  189. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian:

    The definition has never changed. Popular usage has changed. Keeping those details separated is all part of keeping a tidy mind.

    Rather like not giving in when folks around you say “lamb” for “mutton” or call Bourbon Scotch.

    I choose NOT to embrace error but to root it out and reject it lest my lexicon become broken.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to political-economy, and Socialism in particular, you are also up against a huge swath of folks deliberately polluting the language to hide their past sins. Remember that Marx, Lenin, National Socialists et. al. firmly embraced lying and propaganda in the service of the State… Expect it. Thus the redefinition of Fascists and National Socialists as “right wing” when usage at that time had “right wing” meaning Royals and Clergy.

    So, OK, you can use the term wrongly, and in keeping with other folks who use it wrongly, and help advance the propaganda efforts to get real Socialism accepted; or you can do some digging, find out the actual meaning and the actual history and help join those preserving truth and accurate history.

    As to why there is no easy term for “Mixed Economy with Generous Welfare”; all I can offer is that it isn’t a simple ideology advocated by anyone so nobody has come up with a catchy term. “Mixed Economy” has a fairly clean meaning as Capitalism with Govt regulation. But Welfare benefits are a sliding scale from nearly nothing to nearly everything. Hard to put a name on a slider. But I think there is a commonly understood shorthand. The Welfare State.

    Per the American system being badly built and poorly run on the Welfare Side: I doubt you will find anyone here who does not agree. It’s a horridly done hodgepodge of 1/2 systems with nobody trying to make it efficient or effective. Our Government is in many ways crap. Not having it would be worse, and I’ve not seen much better elsewhere, so we live with it. Europe keeps having some things that look really great… for a while… then disassemble into wars or Empires or collapsed economies or governments or… Now the EU is having a go at recreating the Holy Roman Empire and the Westphalian Nation State is up for disassembly. Can’t bring myself to embrace systems that get tossed every generation or so. Asia is full of tyrants or instabilities. The Islamic World is a mess everywhere and intolerant about as much. Latin America keeps playing with “The Socialism Shiny Thing” (the real one) and has musical governments and economic crisis cycling. Africa is about as stable as a unicyclist on ice.

    About the only places with a nice stable and functional government are, IMHO, Canada and Australia / New Zealand. Yet even there they have issues. Not the least of which is a lot more government intrusion into private lives and liberties (though in the last 20 years the USA has been trying to catch up on the intrusion and oppression scales…).

    So I’m just not seeing where there is a whole lot to be gained by destabilizing our system to change it to another one that hasn’t shown as much stability long term. Yeah, we have lots of faults, but I’m not feeling the urge to move to any of the rest of them all that quick… (though I have pondered living in Europe for a few years in retirement – but the recent troubles have made that much less interesting.)

    Given the very high odds for a Socialist government to decay, rapidly, into a Venezuela (or any of the dozens of others that have collapsed) I see nothing but huge risks in going that way.

    Note the percentage of States on this list listed as “Former”…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states

    Marxist-Lenninist only lists 4 as current. (Note in passing that they ARE on the list of Socialist States… even the Wiki gets it right…)

    China – really now moved to a Lange Type Market Socialism. Economy booming as they move from abject poverty to near modernity. Once that runs out, we’ll see how they handle stability and if they continue market liberalization / move to open Mixed Economy Capitalism.

    Vietnam – Much the same condition as China. i.e Marxist in name only.

    Cuba & Laos. Hardly economic powerhouses.

    I count 25 or 26 on the “Former” Marxist list…

    For non-Marxist Socialists, there’s 10 listed as “current”. I’d dispute some of them, as I think they reference it somewhere but have clearly abandoned it in practice. India, for example. The rest are such as: Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, North Korea, Nepal, Sao Tome e Precipe, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Portugal. I question if Portugal is really a practicing socialism… The rest are clearly not items of admiration.

    Then there are 11 former, and a long list of “ephemeral”… I count about 42…

    These are short-lived political entities that emerged during wars or revolutions (mostly in the aftermath of World War I) and declared themselves “socialist” under some interpretation of the term, but did not survive long enough to create a stable government or achieve international recognition.

    It just isn’t something that shows up in the list of great economic successes other than for a short time as a move toward more capitalism usually by a move to a “3rd Way” or Lange Type system with private ownership but lots of government control. Those boom, but so far after the boom comes a violent collapse… so I’m not expecting China to do well when the boom, busts, as they all do.

    It really is simply the case that a Democratic Republic works, welfare system or not, inside a generally Capitalist market system, as long as there is sufficient (but not too much) government oversight via regulation. Some degree of welfare can fix the worst failings of capitalism, but excessive welfare starts to destabilize toward a Socialist installation or an economic stagnation / collapse. Getting the level of Welfare and Regulation right is not easy, especially as lots of Socialists are busy trying to wedge them into a socialism advantage.

    Which is all a very long way of saying I’m not keen on socialism for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being the rate of failure and lack of long term stability or success. Mixed economies with some amount of Welfare and a Republic work well despite their issues.

  190. The traditional Chinese way of running health-care was to pay the doctor while you were well and to stop paying him when you were ill. It was thus to the doctor’s advantage to keep his patients in good health. In Western medicine, though, the doctor makes money when you’re ill. What could possibly go wrong? Giving palliative medicine for a chronic problem (painkillers, tranquillisers) gives a long-term income, whereas fixing the underlying problem won’t make a profit.

    Modern medicine is pretty amazing. Joint-replacements, heart replacements, and all the other things that can now be done weren’t possible when the idea of a National Health Service was put forward and the local GP tended to give simple medical help, and if your heart was failing then you simply died of it. That extra capability however means it’s bound to cost more, simply on the basis of the man-hours invested in each patient to fix the things that are now fixable. Add to that the cost of the new diagnostic machines (MRI, CAT scanners etc.) and we’ll need to set aside more of our income for medical expenses than we ever had the necessity to before (but of course you always have the choice of dying from a curable disease if you want to).

    It’s hard to put a monetary value on your own continued existence, or that of loved ones. Is it worth all you own? Given that if you die you lose that anyway then on a personal level it could be, but saving a loved one from actually dying and leaving them as a vegetable may not be. Hard decisions.

    There is a dearth of doctors. It can only get worse since each doctor can now fix more problems and each fix takes time. There is research on AI for diagnosis, and experimentation with robotic surgery, and these two developments look like giving us a way to beat the supply problem. An AI can of course gather the experience of all doctors and thus be as good or maybe better than the best, though there will be no opportunity for a second diagnosis from another doctor since another AI will likely give the exact same diagnosis.

    I would reckon that a country with a working safety-net for people who get ill or are out of work through somebody else’s fault (or accident etc.) will have a higher level of happiness. If some event drops people out of a productive life through some unavoidable circumstance, and they are then effectively chucked on the scrapheap with no way to become productive again, then that makes life in such a society risky. OK if you’re lucky and you and yours avoid those accidents, but one event can remove all your resources. Making the safety-net more attractive than being productive is however also not a good idea, since then you also lose the incentive to produce.

    Since it looks like we’re heading to a situation where jobs that can be automated will be, and thus that we’re no longer going to have “jobs for life” but instead a succession of projects that we work for, then there will be a variable-length gap between such periods of earning money. As such, I don’t see a reasonable alternative to Adrian’s UBI, but it needs to be set at a maintenance-level and not at a luxury level. There needs to be a good reason to be useful in what you do. Personally, I have a small pension so that’s much the same as the UBI (and also set pretty low). If I needed more money I could go find a gig, but in fact I’m happily using my time in energy research, which I think will turn out to be a very good use of my time. I value my time as being worth a lot more than minimum wage, so I’m happy to run on a pittance and have the time to think and to work on what I want.

    Things are going to change, but the current basically-capitalist system with some social security (even if limited) is around the optimum possible given human nature is the way it is. Larry has pointed out the problems in Sweden from being too open (and thus too open to importing problems), and we all see the problems with Venezuela when Socialism (and corruption) are allowed free play. It’s hard to get the balance right, given that there is always an Evil Bastard who will take advantage of any opportunity to get more than they deserve. To avoid monopolistic practices, we need to have some degree of regulations, and we also need regulations to make sure that stuff sold to the public is not lethally faulty or won’t do what it claims.

    Still, it’s probably not possible to set up a system that will remain fit for purpose as technology advances, and it will need overhauling now and again to fix perceived problems. Your idea of perfection probably won’t match mine, either, so it’s a matter of making it good enough to function rather than trying to fix everything. Any system will also depend on the ethics of the people that are under it, so immigration can change that ethical base so that processes that used to be good-enough may fail. A low-tax system will work while people help their neighbours in difficulty, but where no-one will willingly aid a neighbour then that help would need to be supplied by government (which needs a high tax-rate). One size won’t fit all. Local systems would deal best with local mores and problems, and of course then if you don’t like the local solution you can move to where it suits you better. Maybe a big part of the problem is that too many people think that there is a single solution and that they know what it is.

  191. jim2 says:

    Simon says: “AI will likely give the exact same diagnosis.”
    Oh, you mean like the climate models all give the same prognosis?

  192. Jim – it seems likely that they’ll get agreements between the best doctors for the diagnosis, so though it may indeed be wrong there won’t be an alternative diagnosis available (or at least not in your country). Medical diagnosis is always a “best guess” anyway, so in any treatment you take your chances as to whether the problem or the solution is actually worse for you. Maybe in the process they’ll remove the option of suing if it goes wrong, since the machine will also estimate the chances of a failure of the intervention. If you accept a failure-rate of 30%, for example, then suing when you get the short straw would be a bit difficult.

    I saw recently that they are starting to check genetic information, since a medicine may work well with some genetic profiles and not with others. Possibly therefore in any case an improved chance of the treatment being better for you than no treatment.

    At the moment, there’s also a reluctance to try out possible cures on terminally-ill patients. Seems strange if the patient would accept the chances. If you’re going to die without treatment but have even a slim chance of getting better with an untried medicine, then seems an easy decision to me. Of course, that also opens up the avenue of doctors telling someone they’re terminally-ill in order to get a chance to try out a new cure. Oh well….

  193. EMS,
    I find little to argue about in your last comment. I was expressing my frustration with what I find wrong and that it should be possible to improve things. Now I fell we are even heading in the wrong direction.
    1. There is no accountability in government.
    2. Business culture has changed to winner takes all.
    3. As a result of 2 income inequality has got out of hand.
    4. America instigates and fights too many bloody wars,

    Any change in the above will be slow. I don’t know the answer but possibly education in these areas at school would help. I won’t live to see it, but my daughter will: there are great technological changes coming up and I’m pessimistic the present government will deal with them without disaster.

  194. Simon,
    My main objection to American healthcare is the cost. Singapore does it better at a small fraction of what it costs here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Singapore

    “Bloomberg ranked Singapore’s healthcare system the most efficient in the world in 2014.

    Singapore has “one of the most successful healthcare systems in the world, in terms of both efficiency in financing and the results achieved in community health outcomes,”

  195. Jin2,
    “Simon says: “AI will likely give the exact same diagnosis.”
    Oh, you mean like the climate models all give the same prognosis?”

    The climate models are no tAI. They are based on assumptions such as climate sensitivity which means the amount of extra water vapor that is caused by CO2 – that is wrong.
    An AI diagnostic system would learn from its mistakes.

  196. Simon,
    “It is projected that, by 2040, 1 of every 3 dollars spent in the United States will be spent on health care.”

    See also Forbes.
    “It seems that no matter how much money you use during that last year/month, if the person is sick enough, the effort makes things worse. A lot of the money being spent is not only not helping, it is making that patient endure more bad experiences on a daily basis. The patient’s quality of life is being sacrificed by increasing the cost of death.”
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelbell/2013/01/10/why-5-of-patients-create-50-of-health-care-costs/#296f928e28d7

    About 1/4 of total health cost is spent on the last six months of life.

  197. jim2 says:

    AA and Simon – a lot of the end-of-life treatments are done so at the request of the patient or the patients family who want to see best effort on behalf of a loved-one. Point being, it is wrong to put all the onus on the medical establishment – there is high demand and in many cases the demand is irrational. Liability issues also drive some bad medical judgment.

  198. Adrian – health care in the States does seem far too expensive, but I see two main reasons there. The first one is the monopoly status of the pharma industry and the medical system in general. The second one is the tendency of citizens to sue if something goes wrong, and the large settlements that involves, meaning that the medical practitioners need very good (and expensive) insurance (and, as Jim says, may well decide based on liability issues). Still, note EM’s point about who pays for the people who don’t have enough money to pay. That has a lot to do with the ticket price, too.

    End-of-life care is a problem. Alzheimer’s patients can do some very illogical things, and need 24-hour observation if they have any mobility. I found my mum trying to climb out of the window (and she’d have fallen around 4 feet on the other side) when the door was right next to her. She also decided to go visiting a neighbour a few times when that neighbour was long-dead and in a different country. Not good when it’s a cold and rainy night, and I had to go find where she was. I agree that quality of life is more important than just keeping someone’s body going when their brain has gone, but maybe a lot of people feel otherwise and that life itself is sacred. When it was obvious that my mum was dying almost a year ago I didn’t call the emergency services, so she died in her own bed in her own house with her own cats, rather than a few weeks later in a hospital bed stuffed with tubes. Death can be delayed, but not put off.

    The problem of this end-of-life care may well be solved using robots who don’t need to sleep and can be constantly vigilant. It may also improve quality of life since they are very good listeners, and can also be programmed to have conversations. Such robots would be expensive to start with, but of course the costs would drop pretty rapidly and the capabilities would improve. At the moment, robots capable of this service are hand-built and thus expensive, but mass-production in robotic factories could make them cheaply. Even a mechanically-simple robot (that couldn’t do such things as change nappies or clean, but could hold a conversation and make the carer aware when the patient moved out of range) would make the care job very much more bearable. I put in an IP camera so that I could see what was happening when I was somewhere else, but if there had been such a robot available I’d have jumped at the chance. Something bad could happen in the time I wasn’t watching.

    I thus think that the current system is likely to be changed because of technology advances. It’s probably going to become both cheaper and better. No doubt there will be some losers, but overall I’d expect most people to see an improvement. Since to a large extent the technologies are available now, I expect that we’ll see them in use over the next decade or so.

  199. Simon,
    I’m with you. It’s only recently that actuators and sensors have improved enough to make that kind of robot possible. ABB uses robots to make robots mow. It looks like the Japs will take the lead in health robots as they have an aging population.
    What we need is free competition to develop them and somehow avoid the ownership becoming a private monopoly.

  200. pouncer says:

    Not sure whether this analysis belongs here, or on “TIPS”.

    Apple to buy Netflix?

    http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-potential-merger-acquisition-candidates-aapl-2017-12?r=UK&IR=T

  201. Adrian – a bit of serendipity here, in that the BBC published an article on AI diagnosis last night that states that it’s better than doctors can do and will thus save money, operations and in fact lives as well. It seems that for heart problems and lung cancer, doctors get it wrong 20% of the time when looking at the scans.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/health-42357257

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