Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

How to do cryptocurrency right

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

Proof of work tends to be inherently slow, has inherently high transaction costs, and the miner’s interests are not identical with those holding currency as a store of value and those using currency as a medium of exchange.

Proof of stake is nontrival to get right. It is a form of the infamously difficult to understand (and infamously difficult to program correctly) Paxos protocol. The Paxos protocol has the great advantage over the proof of work in that after an unpredictable and possibly large time, it announces a definite result, whereas with the bitcoin proof of work protocol, no result is ever final, it just becomes exponentially probable.

Ignore the carping that proof of stake is inherently flawed. Any implementation of proof of stake that is easy to understand is likely inherently flawed, that being the infamous nature of Paxos.

Bitcoin was genuinely decentralized from the beginning, and over time became more centralized. Big exchanges and a small number of big miners are on the path to inadvertently turning it into another branch of the oppressive and corrupt government fiat money system.

The new altcoin offering are for the most part not genuinely decentralized. They have a plan for becoming genuinely decentralized some time in the future, but the will and ability to carry the plan through has not been demonstrated.

Assume that, instead of everyone being a peer, we have few dozen or so peers, the peers distributed among several nuclear armed jurisdictions, and each peer has a hundred million or so clients, and each peer stores the entire blockchain forever.

OK, we are talking rather large peers. A terabyte of storage, a hundred dollars worth, will keep one of them going for a week. Say two terabytes for redundancy. I don’t think cost of storage is going to be a significant problem.

Scaling, however, is the hard problem. Making enormous amounts of storage actually useful and effective is the problem. The amount of storage per client is absolutely insignificant. The amount of bandwidth per client is absolutely insignificant. Having a useful connection between enormous numbers of clients and enormous amounts of storage via enormous amounts of bandwidth is the hard part.

Prompt response is another problem. It inherently takes time, and potentially large and unpredictable time, to reach consensus on the blockchain.

We can, however, have fast trust base responses followed by consensus: Since the peers are pretty big, you can trust a peer for your payment during the short time it takes for consensus to settle.

The way this would work is that every client is hosted by a peer. If his host should crash, or turn evil, he can move to another peer, though during the move he will not be able to make fast transactions. When he makes a payment, the peer hosting him testifies that this is not a double spend, and the payment is instantly flagged to the recipient as cleared – but it does not get flagged as settled, and the recipient cannot spend the payment, until it gets incorporated into the blockchain consensus, about twenty minutes later. Since the peers are big and long lived, you can trust them with your money for half an hour or so, and if you don’t want to trust them,, or you don’t trust some of them, you just wait for the transaction to be incorporated into the consensus.

A bad time to invest in Bitcoin

Sunday, October 8th, 2017

Back in 2013 I urged people to invest in Bitcoin.

Yesterday someone asked my cleaning lady to invest in Bitcoin.

Now if someone had asked her to accept payment in Bitcoin, or send payment in Bitcoin, then this would be compelling evidence that one should invest in Bitcoin.

But when cleaning ladies are asked to invest in Bitcoin, not a good investment.

When Bitcoin began, everyone was a miner, and everyone was a peer, everyone stored the entire blockchain. Which was great, but did not scale. And now people are struggling with half assed ideas about how to get it to scale.  Bitcoin can no longer deliver on its original promises, has not figured out what new promises to make, and many of the new promises are unworkable, or are scams, or are likely to turn into scams.

Cryptocurrency

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Our financial system is corrupt and oppressive. Cryptocurrencies represent an opportunity to route around that system, and make lots of money doing so.

Cryptocurrency is real, and presents the opportunity to make enormous amounts of money. Also, cryptocurrency scams are real, and present the opportunity to lose enormous amounts of money. Like the dot-com bubble in the 90s, you can add the concept of blockchain to just about anything and have a ‘business’ worth millions, no matter how idiotic the original idea. The vast majority of initial coin offerings are investments in businesses that are not providing anyone with any value, have no real customers and no obvious prospect of ever having any real customers.

The successful altcoin will be genuinely decentralized, as bitcoin was designed to be, originally was, and to some extent still is. Most of the altcoins, possibly all of them except the Bitcoins and Ethereum, are furtively centralized.

It will use, or at least offer the option, of Zooko type wallet names, as Bitcoin and Ethereum do.

It will be scalable to enormous numbers of transactions with low transaction costs, as Steemit and Ripple are, but Bitcoin and Ethereum are not.

It will support sidechains, and exchanges will be sidechained.

It will be a blogging and tweeting platform, as Steemit is, and will be a decentralized blogging and tweeting platform, as Steemit is not.

Every website reporting on the altcoin boom and the initial coin offering boom has an incentive to not look too closely at the claimed numbers. Looks to me that only Bitcoin and Steemit.com have substantial numbers of real users making real arms length transactions. Maybe Ethereum and Ripple also. The rest are unlikely to have any significant number of real, arms length, users. The white papers don’t tell you the qualifications of the people running the operation, or what they are going to do, what milestones they hope to reach.

The crypto coin business is full of scammers, and there is no social pressure against scammers, no one wants to look too closely, because a close look would depress the market. There is no real business plan, no very specific or detailed idea of how the coin offering service is going to be of value, how it is going to get from where it is now, to where it is going to usefully be. It is very hard to find out how many real users a crypto currency has, and how much stuff is available denominated in that crypto currency.

Most of the alt currencies are just me-too copies of bitcoin, not adding any substantial value, and/or they cannot scale, and they are deceptive about how centralized and how vulnerable to state attack they are. Nearly all of them are furtively centralized, as Bitcoin never was. They all claim to be decentralized, but when you read the white paper, as with Waves, or observe actual practice, as with Steemit, they are usually completely centralized, and thus completely vulnerable to state pressure, and quite likely state seizure as an unregulated financial product, thus offer no real advantage over conventional financial products. When you buy an initial coin offering, you are usually buying shares, usually non voting shares, in a business with no assets and no income and no clear plan to get where they will have assets and income, as in the dot com boom.

The numbers show that Bitcoin is number one, ethereum number two, ripple number four, and steemit.com number eighteen, but my wild assed guess is that Bitcoin is number one, steemit number two, ethereum number three. I have absolutely no idea where ripple stands. No one is providing data that would enable us to estimate real, arms length users.

Bitcoin exchanges are banks, and banks naturally become fractional reserve institutions. Bitcoin exchanges are furtively and secretly investing customer deposits, without reporting the resulting term transformation.

Genuinely free market banks, and bitcoin exchanges are genuinely free market banks, have a financial incentive to engage in term transformation – borrow short, lend long. Which is great for everyone until a rainy day comes, rains on everyone, and everyone withdraws their deposits all at the same time, and suddenly all those long term loans cannot be liquidated except at a loss, whereupon the banks exchanges turn to the state, and so begin the transition from a backed currency to a state currency, ceasing to be free market banks.

The trouble with fractional reserve is that free market banks, banks trading in a backed, rather than state, currency, tend to deny, understate and misrepresent the term transformation risk, making them slowly, and often unintentionally, drift into becoming scams. If the reserve fraction is visible to customers, then we could rely on caveat emptor. Right now, however, every bitcoin exchange is drifting into becoming a scam.

We need, and we could easily have but do not have, a system where the amount of bitcoins owed to customers by an exchange is knowable and provable, and the amount of bitcoins owned by an exchange is knowable and provable, so that the reserve fraction is visible, whereupon the exchange would have to provide information about the extent and nature of its term transformation, or else would likely lose customers, or at least would lose large, long term customers. This would involve the decentralized cryptocurrency making each exchange a sidechain operating a centralized cryptocurrency backed by the decentralized cryptocurrency. Which would also help mightily with scaling.

Bitcoin and ethereum is truly decentralized, in that it is a protocol that any entity can use, and that in practice lots of entities do use. If the government grabs some hosts, or some hosts do bad things, they can just be ignored, and the system continues elsewhere. They also use Zooko type identities, which in practice means your wallet name looks like line noise. This is outstandingly user hostile, and a reason so many people use exchanges, but it provides the core of resistance to state power.

Unfortunately, Bitcoin and Ethereum face scaling limits. Maybe ethereum will fix its scaling limits. Bitcoin does not seem to be fixing them. This makes Bitcoin and Ethereum transactions inherently expensive, which is likely to prevent them from replacing the corrupt and oppressive US government controlled financial system.

Steemit.com has a far superior design which does not result in scaling limits – although we have yet to see how its witness election system will perform at scale – as the system scales, money holders have less incentive to vote, less incentive to vote responsibly, and voting will inherently cost more.

Steemit.com is also highly centralized. The altcoin that will win will be the one needs to be scalable all the way to Visa and Mastercard levels, and needs to be visibly decentralized, visibly resistant to state seizure, and needs to have a mechanism that makes the fractional reserves of exchanges visible to exchange users.

Bitcoin was genuinely decentralized from the beginning, and over time became more centralized. Big exchanges and a small number of big miners are on the path to inadvertently turning it into another branch of the oppressive and corrupt government fiat money system.

The new altcoin offering are for the most part not genuinely decentralized. They have a plan for becoming genuinely decentralized some time in the future, but the will and ability to carry the plan through has not been demonstrated.

I like the steemit design. The witness system is scalable, the witness election system has problems which may be fixable, or may be inherent.

But I have a suspicion that investing in steemit is only going to profit whoever owns steemit.com, not the owners of steemit currency.

According to Steemit documentation, it looks like a well designed cryptocurrency that deserves to replace Bitcoin, because it is more scalable, more user friendly, and more immediately usable.

Well, that is what it looks like. Except its front end is the steemit.com website, and any one website can easily be seized by the feds. If actually decentralized, it should be a bunch of websites using a common crypto currency and a common identity system,

Remember usenet: A common protocol, and an internal name system. The particular host through which you accessed it did not matter all that much, because all hosts had to behave much the same. Steemit should be something like usenet with money, and it is not.

The way usenet worked, anyone (meaning anyone’s computer and his client program) could join as a client by having an agreement with a host, and anyone (meaning anyone’s powerful and well connected computer system) could join as a host by having an agreement with a few existing members.

A successful altcoin needs to be a blogging platform like Steemit, but it also needs to be a federation, like Usenet or Mastodon. Many of the blogs will be offering goods or services for cryptocurrency.

Then one could be more sure that success of the federation currency would benefit owners of the currency, rather than owners of a single central website.

Needs to be Mastodon with the ability to support a blog like post, and like Steemit, and unlike Mastodon, to send and receive money. Steemit.com is wordpress.com with the ability to send and receive money.

Bitcoin has a decentralized name system, rooted in Zooko style names that are not human intelligible. Its resistance to state power comes partly from the fact that there are several miners and anyone can be a miner, and partly from its decentralized name system.

Steemit has a communication and blogging system. But if I hold steemit currency, steemit.com connects that to my phone number, which the government connects to my true name. All that handy dandy data that the government would like all in one place that you can serve a warrant on or mount a raid on. Or just sell for profit.

Need a decentralized communication, identity, name, and blogging system, unlike Steemit.com’s centralized communication and blogging system, and a name system that is resistant to government intervention and control, like Bitcoin’s name system. Thus the blogs offering goods and services for crypto currency will be resistant to regulation or seizure by the state. When a ruler meddles as much as our state does, he gives dangerously great power to those dangerously close to him. The regulatory state inevitably drifts into anarcho tyranny, or, like Venezuela, into violent and chaotic anarchy.

But we also want human readable names. How can we square Zooko’s triangle? (As Aaron Schwarz famously asked, and then infamously gave a very stupid answer.) I will give my answer as to how a crypto currency can square Zooko’s triangle in a following post. (The answer being, much as namecoin does it.)

Holiness and corporate performance.

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Notoriously, corporations that are Social Justice converged behave in ways that are not only evil, but self destructive, leading to loss of shareholder value.

It is difficult to objectively assess social justice convergence, but we can expect it to have a pretty good correlation with the company’s business model – a green energy company is going to be full of social justice warriors, and receive lots of investment from fund managers who are trying to earn brownie points from the government, rather than brownie points from investors, whereas a gun company is probably trying to make good money by making good guns.

“Watts Up With That” recently did a ten year comparison of such companies, and found that over ten years, holiness investing lost nearly all your money, while sinfulness investing doubled your money.

Twelve years ago, holiness investing consisted largely in investing in providing mortgages for single women, Hispanics, and blacks. And all that money disappeared also.

However, while holiness investing is terrible for investors, it works extremely well for management, as for example Jon Corzine, the world’s most regulated and regulating financier, who without informing his customers proceeded to use their funds to rescue Greece.

Jon Corzine’s customers were eventually paid back by burning JP Morgan, illustrating that when you do business with progs, someone gets burned. The short of it was that various financial entities who were improperly paid with money belonging to Jon Corzine’s customers had to give it back, so that they are out of the money, they got burned, yet somehow Jon Corzine is still smelling of roses.

Corporations that go left tend to disappear or get hollowed out, unless they have some kind of state protected monopoly.

No enemies to the right

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

No enemies to the left has been working great for the left, and no enemies to the right has been working great for us.

If you declare someone to your right your enemy, you wind up dancing to a tune called by leftists.

Supreme Dark Lord Vox Day recently criticized Spencer and the Nazis as fake right – criticized them not for being too far right, but for being too far left, for being socialist. He did not criticize from the left, but from the right. He is correctly maintaining a position of no enemies to the right. You can argue that his criticism was too harsh, that he was cutting off communication, but his action was not an example of enemies to the right. Socialism is leftist, and Nazis are leftists who have been left behind by the rest of the left as the rest have continued to move further left.

People who want to smash or steal stuff belonging to Jews are mistaken. That never makes us rich, it makes us poor.

Non Jews should be removed from state and quasi state power in Israel, and Jews should be removed from state and quasi state power in the US. But if you go smashing up a Jewish pawnshop or a Jewish distillery, you are allowing covetousness and envy to distract you and make you do stupid things. Taking or smashing other people’s stuff is a bad idea. Land and women can be usefully and effectively stolen, but the trouble with socialism is that more complicated forms of wealth tend to get messed up in the transition. Jews in exile tend to specialize in precisely those forms of wealth that are not usefully confiscatable.

Peak Oil

Friday, July 21st, 2017

If you discover more than ten years of reserves, politicians are apt to take it away from you.

So for the last hundred years or so, the world has only had ten years worth of proven oil reserves left and has been about to run out in ten years or so. In fact the world has only had about ten years of anything left for the past hundred years or so.

King Hubbert created a composite, mega-decline curve that predicted U.S. crude oil production would peak in the 1965-70 time period. But, of course, it did not decline. So his prediction was retroactively relabelled “Lower 48 states Oil Production”. Which retrodiction was true – for a while. Retrodictions always are. See global warming for example.

Well, for some time US oil production in the lower 48 states has been increasing. So it was re-relabelled “Lower 48 states conventional oil Production” The new story was that fracking has intolerable environmental and financial costs, so is not a practical replacement for old type oil production.

When Trump stopped the government from funding and organizing people to protest fracking, the intolerable environmental costs mysteriously vanished in a puff of smoke, and when Trump made it easier to get permission to frack, so did a large part the economic costs, with the result that US frackers are now giving the Saudis a hard time.

For a given technology, and a given price, a given oilfield or group of oilfields does indeed follow a Hubberd Curve, and you can use the curve to estimate what the real reserves are. (They are usually enormously greater than the official reserves.)

Although science has been stagnating since Harvard got the upper hand over the Royal Society, technology that makes money continues to advance. We have a problem with new blue sky technologies. No one in the west is developing new technologies any more, just polishing up existing profitable technologies. We are not getting any replacement for chip patterning usin one hundred and ninety three nanometer excimer laser lithography, just ever more minute improvements in excimer laser lithography, with the result that Moore’s law has run out of puff. People keep talking about ten nanometer, but it is just not going anywhere. They keep saying they will use both one ninety and ten. If ten was working, would not use one ninety. If they were talking ninety nanometer, rather than ten, then I would be impressed. If someone could make money out of supersonic jets, we would get better and better supersonics, but instead, planes are slowing down, not speeding up. But people could make money out of drilling and stimulating oil fields, so drilling and oilfield stimulation got better and better, and continues to improve.

Physical resources are effectively infinite, in that physical limits to growth are unlikely to be a significant problem in the reasonably foreseeable future. The problem is social decay.

Not a dog barked

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Remember all those mighty and entirely spontaneous protests demanding that the Obama regime do what it quite obviously wanted to do and was quite obviously looking for justifications for doing, protests demanding that the government block every form of energy production in every white country, which obstructions have made the US into an energy importer for sixty years or so.

And, of course, with deep reluctance the Obama regime would invariably yield to the justified and entirely spontaneous and genuine rage of the mighty masses. </sarcasm>

Overnight (well, over the first one hundred and fifty days of the Trump regime), the US has become an energy exporter. Trump would repeal a regulation by executive order, and the next day coal miners would be digging coal, repeal another regulation, and the next day drillers would be pumping oil. One day he makes an executive order, the next day Americans in flyover country are back to work. The next day after that he makes another executive order, and the day after that, more Americans in flyover country are back to work.

You did not hear of this.

Probably because the mighty and justifiable enraged masses strangely failed to spontaneously show up to spontaneously demonstrate their might and spontaneous justified rage. They were always demanding that Obama shut down energy, but somehow, when Trump turns the energy policy of every previous Democratic and cuckservative president for the last sixty years arse over tit, no protests happen.

Funny thing that.

By the way did you know that there is overwhelming support for impeaching Trump? It must be true, I read it in the newspapers. </sarcasm>

Leftism has been a mass movement under both Democratic and cuckservative presidents, been a mass movement since nineteen sixty three. But Donald Trump gets elected, and suddenly and quietly it just is not a mass movement any more. Funny thing that.

Yes, the permanent government is giving Trump a hard time. Trump has not won yet, and maybe the permanent government will win. We are, or recently were, right on the edge of the special counsel impeaching Trump without bothering with that old fashioned two thirds vote in the senate. But Trump has cut off the permanent government at the knees, in that the mighty and justifiably enraged masses are no longer spontaneously demanding whatever the permanent government wants them to spontaneously demand this morning and no longer spontaneously enraged about whatever the permanent government wants them to be spontaneously enrage about this morning.

Reagan talked about defunding the left, Trump has actually made a start on defunding the left. Obviously there is a lot more defunding to be done, but suddenly leftists that do not yet have social justice warrior jobs are no longer expecting that they will get social justice warrior jobs in the very near future as a quid pro quo for the latest protest. That funding for the left has stopped its endless and open ended increase and has actually decreased, even if only a by a little, has resulted in leftism as a mass movement vanishing in a puff of smoke.

This has resulted in an intense search for other sources of social justice warrior funding. Thus for example, we see complaints that venture capitalists that control large amounts of other people’s money should be subject to destruction at whim without evidence by social justice warriors. Cheryl tell us: “This is where it has to be fixed – the fact the burden of proof always falls on the person reporting the incident.”

“Fixing” this, of course, will have the effect that Silicon Valley venture capital will wind up funding social justice, rather than technical advance, which we already see happening with Uber, Airbnb, and Apple. Uber and Airbnb are committing social justice suicide. Apple has such deep pockets that it will likely survive, but probably not Airbnb and Uber.

Airbnb is trying to prevent Filipinos and Chinese from being racist. Would have more success preventing water from being wet.

Their power base in Silicon valley derives from appointments made by the Obama regime. Thus for example Cheryl, who is currently shaking down the management of Silicon Valley venture capital firms with sexual harassment allegations for which there is a curious lack of evidence, worked for a Malaysian startup fund funded by the Obama administration and the Malaysian govt. Not a tech person, not a startup person, a political commissar. In the course of accusing a venture capitalist of inappropriate sexual behavior, she depicted herself as engaging in behavior that I find entirely inappropriate in a woman – for example this evil venture capitalist somehow caused her to be alone with him, and, while alone with him in a private flat with a nice bed, somehow caused her to consume very large amounts of scotch. Pretty sure that if sex did not ensue, it is because he fought her off.

The bitcoin crisis

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

There can only be one.

There can only be one money, at the root of all others. Money is a measure of value, a store of value, and a medium of exchange, and you want to uses the same medium of exchange and measure of value as everyone else.

At the very beginning, I said the trouble with bitcoin, as originally designed, is that it does not scale. Everyone, to be a peer, to be an equal participant, has to store and process everyone else’s transactions, thus the cost of each transaction increases with the number of peers. I estimate the current cost of a transaction to be about a thousand dollars, most of which is carried by people speculating in bitcoin, hoping that as the USG empire collapses, bitcoin, rather than gold, will replace the dollar.

Bitcoin is reaching, indeed has substantially exceeded, its inherent limits. For it to become the one, it has to get away from a system where everyone processes everyone’s transactions, and stores everyone’s transactions.

The sidechain proposal is a way of getting away from that without a hard fork, so that your transactions are not seen by everyone, merely by enough people, and not stored by everyone forever, but only by a very small number of people forever.

Altcoins are hard fork proposals, which if they fix the scaling problem could become the one. At present the total value of altcoins is roughly equal to the total value of bitcoins.

At present, the true cost of bitcoin transactions is so outrageously high it cannot possibly become the one. It must die, and everyone invested in bitcoins will lose all their money, unless the sidechain proposal provides a forkless path to a world in which the true cost of bitcoin transactions is reduced to something reasonable.

But the interest in crypto currencies is so very great, the amount of money invested in crypto currencies is so very great, that one shall succeed. The amount of serious money invested is so very great that it looks overwhelmingly likely that as the USG empire falls, crypto currency, rather than gold, will replace the US$.

And that one shall be one that allows low, rather than hidden, transaction costs. Likely an altcoin rather than bitcoin, because the weight of special interests in bitcoin makes it hard to get to there from here.

But the wise investor should invest in gold, should invest in bitcoin in the hope that the scaling problems can be fixed without a hard fork, and should invest in an altcoin that has solved the scaling problem. And the last time I took a good look, none of them had actually solved the scaling problem, though many of them were hoping to solve it, claiming they had solved it, or had plans for eventually solving it.

The sidechain proposal has been kicked around for three years, and bitcoin’s transaction cost has been getting rapidly worse all this time.

Anyone who invests in bitcoin, is investing hoping that scaling can be fixed, for if scaling is not fixed, bitcoin will surely die. The current true cost of bitcoin transactions is absolutely unsustainable.

The true cost of renewable energy

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Because the cost of renewables is falsified, installation of renewables causes power crises. Renewables are installed. The cost of renewables is hidden in some other part of the system, renewables continue to be installed, that part of the system does not get increased funding, collapses, blackouts and brownouts ensue. Fixing the blackouts and brownouts costs money, the cost of electricity then rises to reflect the actual cost of renewables that no one will admit.

The cost of renewables is assessed without regard for the fact that renewables are intermittent and unpredictable. Sometimes the sun shines, some times it does not, sometimes the wind blows, sometimes it does not, sometimes it blows too hard and the windmills must shut down. This creates a burden on the grid, and the need for backup power, and this backup power and grid load is not costed or funded

So the overburdened grid shuts down, and you get blackouts, or there just is not enough power, and you get brownouts.

Eventually industry threatens to up and leave for lack of predictable power, and then, and only then, only after major threats from major industries, the additional generating capacity and grid capacity is built – and people have to pay for it. And then, and only then, the true cost of renewables becomes apparent.

Generating electricity costs very little. What is expensive is generating it when it is needed, and not when it is not needed, and transporting it from where it is generated to where it is used.

The rational way to charge for electricity would be like internet – charge by the size of the pipeline, not how much goes through it. Most of the cost of household electricity is the grid and power stations idling for times of peak demands.

The trouble with wind and solar is that sometimes the wind blows, and sometimes it does not, and sometimes the sun shines, and some times it does not. So it puts an unreasonable load on the grid and requires some kind other power source for times people want power, but the sun is not shining and the wind stops blowing.

If you have solar power on your roof, then when you feed excess power back into the grid it costs the power company money, because they have to have the extra grid capability to support unpredictable power being fed back into the grid at inconvenient times.

Hydroelectric is OK, provided one has a decent sized dam behind it, so that one can run water through the turbines when one needs power, and not run water through the turbines when one does not. It is the dam that is expensive, and the dam that makes hydroelectric power useful. Without a large enough dam, it is as useless and expensive as wind and solar.

If we had a cheap and effective means of storing power, then wind and solar would be great, and every household and every business would cheerfully go off grid and use solar for everything. High temperature batteries relying on molten sodium, molten salt, and beta alumina membranes are promising, but they are not yet economical in sizes small enough for household use, or even use by ordinary businesses.

The only cheap and effective means for storing power is pumped hydro. You need two large dams close together, one much higher than the other, and when the sun shines you pump water uphill, and when it is dark you run water downhill through the turbines. If you have rivers suitable for pumped hydro, then wind and solar is pretty reasonable. It is costlier than carbon and nuclear, but compared to the cost of the grid, not enough to make a huge difference.

Norway uses hydro, and hydro works fine. Austria uses hydro and pumped hydro. Portugal uses pumped hydro, and for them, wind and solar works fine. But most of the EU just does not have enough suitable dams for pumped hydro. And for them, renewable power sources are very expensive.

I took a list of EU countries that use widely varying amounts of renewable electrical power sources, leaving out Norway, Portugal, and Austria because of hydro and pumped hydro.

The cost of electricity in the remaining countries is, to a good approximation, proportional to the proportion that is generated renewably. Extrapolating to 100% renewable, it would cost 55 cents per kilowatt hour, extrapolating to 0% renewable, it would cost about 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

Trumpcare passes the house

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Still has to pass the Senate, but already the Democrats are terrified.

The essential and important feature of Trumpcare is that it “denies insurance to millions of Americans”. In other words, when you seek medical care, when those who pay for and operate our system of medical care seek medical care, they will not find one hundred drug addicts looking for free drugs and one hundred bums looking for free food, a free bed, and human contact in front of them. Those people, drug addicts, criminals, and suchlike, are still going to get subsidy, but they will go literally or metaphorically through a different door to the people who are paying.

Now even if Trumpcare passes the Senate, we still have to pass it to find out what is in it. The details are going to be filled in by regulators – regulators who are theoretically under Trump’s supervision, but are in fact far more answerable to the permanent government. So we still could be screwed nine ways from Sunday.

But like Trump himself, Trumpcare offers remote possibility of success, as compared to the absolute certainty of failure.

A possible outcome of this vote, a successful outcome of this vote, is that the marginal voter, the swinging voter, gets reasonable healthcare, or at least healthcare that is less outrageously terrible, and the Democrat voter core (vagrants, drug addicts, whores, single mums, and criminals) loses out – which of course is going to mean a major swing to Trump and Republicans, and a major swing away from Democrats. Hence the widespread abject pants-wetting terror among democrat politicians.

Trumpcare protects people with pre-existing conditions, without however giving them the same insurance you get. Which may in practice mean that people who don’t pay go in through the same door you do, or may not mean that. If it means that people who don’t pay go in through the same door, then that means that people who pay get treated like criminals, vagrants and drug addicts, in short like Democratic party core voters, that being the vast majority of non paying people showing up at hospital. People say that the very old are costing us a bundle, that the very sick are costing us a bundle. No, it is Democratic Party core constituencies that are costing us a bundle.

Not needing to pay for healthcare and having plenty of time on your hands makes a vastly greater difference to how much healthcare you consume than being old and sick does. In short, being a Democratic core constituency is the major variable determining how much healthcare a person is going to consume.

Any system that guarantees that some morbidly obese alcoholic on the street is going to get the same standard of healthcare as an affluent middle class person is going to guarantee that that affluent middle class person is going to get very little healthcare. If Trumpcare is going to provide a reasonable standard of healthcare for the median voter, it has to deny a reasonable standard of healthcare for the modal Democratic party voter. Whether it will do so is far from clear, but it is absolutely certain that Obamacare will not provide a reasonable standard of healthcare for the median voter.