Monday, June 27, 2016

The Real Tragedy of Brexit

Last week, British voters voted to leave the European Union (referred to by the rather too catchy term Brexit). Since that time, the FTSE 350 (Britain's largest stock index, similar to the S&P 500) lost £140 billion of value. Britain's currency, the Pound Sterling dropped 11% against the dollar (and dropped a similar amount against every other world currency). The OECD predicts that British households will earn between £3,000 and £5,000 less per year in 2030 if Britain actually does leave the E.U. Every major organization that has examined the problem has predicted that Brexit will hurt Britain.

Namely these:

Despite that, the Britains voted to leave the E.U. The leave campaign was a mixture of scaremongering, xenophobia, misinformation, and flat lies. But I'm not going to talk about that. Jon Oliver does it better:

But the financial costs aren't the true tragedy of Brexit.

Now, the Scots are planning a new referendum on leaving the United Kingdom. Likewise, the Northern Irish will have theirs. Of course, this all makes sense, the Scots and the Irish voted overwhelmingly to remain in the E.U. They'll choose to leave Britain and rejoin the E.U. Strangely, the Welsh, who voted to leave the E.U., are now planning to have a referendum to leave Britain. Secession is contagious. Subdivisions continue.

Brexit will drive people apart.

Every boarder erected adds more distance between the people on either side. Expenses are higher. Profits are lower. Border guards must be paid. Families, friends, and lovers are separated by red tape.

We are hairless apes living on a tiny blue speck in a vast blackness. We are illuminated by a small star at just the right distance not to cook us or freeze us. A large rock from space could end the human race at any moment. We could end ourselves with nuclear weapons. We are in the process of ending ourselves with pollution. Truly, humanity is a delicate thing.

In the next fifty years, we must adopt sustainable energy and agriculture. In the next hundred years, we must reach an equilibrium with the rest of the Earth's ecosystem. In the next several hundred years, we must learn to deflect asteroids headed for the Earth. In the next billion years, we will need to find another planet to live on.

The E.U. benefits humanity.

We must all work together to solve the huge problems facing humanity. To this date, no two European Union members have fought a war. Instead, the nations of the E.U. have traded with each other. Citizens of member states have moved freely in order to make their lives better. Europe has welcomed refugees and participated in international space exploration. Most importantly, the E.U. has pushed hard for reducing CO2 emissions to address climate change. The only truly effective carbon market is a cap and trade system that the E.U. has proposed.

Britain's exit from the European Union puts all that at risk. Britain is the third largest country in the E.U. by population and the second largest economy. It remains to be seen if Britain's exit presages the exits of other nations, but the E.U. is undoubtedly weaker. Britain is undoubtedly weaker. It's unlikely Britain will remain one nation.

When will we stop dividing?

There will always be those who wish to leave any political union, but when are such claims valid? Can ten men on ten acres declare independence from their nation? Can 10,000 men on 10,000 acres?

The human race needs to join together. Not split apart. Until leaving the Earth is an option, leaving political unions should not be.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Breaking: Britain Changes National Anthem

In a surprising move, Great Britain's House of Lords voted to change the country's National Anthem from God Save the Queen, a traditional hymn celebrating the Crown to Those Damned Blue Collared Tweakers, a hit by the 1990's alternative rock band, Primus, celebrating the rich tapestry of manual laborers who use methamphetamines.

The Crown issued a press release saying:

"Although God Save the Queen has served the empire for centuries, the empire is gone. Those Damned Blue Collared Tweakers better represents the new Britain and its strengths and challenges. Plus Primus is a bitchin' band and Les [Claypool] just shreds that bass."

Les Claypool, bass player and the composer of Britain's new anthem, said:

"Well fuckit. That's cool. I never wrote a national anthem before, but why not? Now we're negotiating with the French on the rights to Wynona's Big Brown Beaver."

Post Brexit Exclusive: May to become PM, England to Join New Free Trade Area

On Thursday, May 23rd, British voters voted 52%-48% to leave the European Union. The vote was derided in financial and political circles around the world. But what does it really mean? Yet Another Political Rant is pleased to publish an interview that sheds some light onto the future direction of the United Kingdom. Yesterday, I sat down with a Conservative member of parliament from England. He spoke with us on condition of anonymity.

YAPR: Many have suggested that another referendum will be held that could overturn the results of the last one. Or that perhaps parliament might not honor the referendum and instead choose to remain part of the EU. Do you think there is any way that the United Kingdom might decided to remain even still?

MP: Yeah, well, maybe. Everyone knows we fucked up, but it's too goddamned late. Merkel would have us back if we crawled to her on hands and knees and asked to toss her salad. We're out. That's it. Done.

YAPR: Do you have any inside information as to who might become the next prime minister?

MP: Yes. Theresa May will be the next prime minister of England.

YAPR: Excuse me, you mean, prime minister of the United Kingdom?

MP: Well, for a minute, maybe, but we jolly well pissed away the kingdom then didn't we? Scotland will hold another referendum and leave before you can wipe your ass. They'll join back up with the EU of course. Northern Ireland will probably join up with the rest of Ireland. I expect the Shetlands will join up with Norway and take all the North Sea oilfields with them. Of course the Falklands will be wanting to join with Argentina. Hell the Taffies might even leave and join up with the other sheep shaggers in the North.

YAPR: Is the situation really so grave for England?

MP: It sure as fuck is. Everyone knows the English are a bunch of racist arseholes who are too stupid to bother with. This Brexit vote is the most embarrassing thing since the Munich Agreement.

YAPR: So does England have a plan? How will England address the loss of such a large market for its goods and services.

MP: Oh there's a plan. I've been discussing this with Theresa. Everyone regrets pissing away our sweet trade situation, so we need to build another free trade zone.

YAPR: If England is so reviled how will you be able to sign trade deals?

MP: Well, we have to start at the bottom. To that end, I am working on a deal to for a free trade zone with North Korea, Myanmar, and the Central African Republic. We hope to add countries such as Sudan and Somalia soon.

YAPR: Do you have an other inside news to share with us?

MP: Sure. I need a dirty whore and some nose candy. Sod off.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Cost of Getting Rid of Fossil Fuels

The climate change narrative goes something like this:

The burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil emits large quantities of CO2. That CO2 traps heat from the sun that would otherwise be radiated into space. The trapped heat is causing higher temperatures on average as well as more intense droughts and storms. The changing climate is causing extinctions, diseases, and deaths. Glaciers and polar ice caps are melting and will flood our coastal cities unless we do something. We have to stop burning fossil fuels in order to avoid flooded cities, huge storms, terrible droughts, and other terrifying consequences. The economic costs of changing our energy infrastructure will be huge, but we have to save our coastal cities and ecosystems.

This climate change narrative is wrong.

Melting icecaps and droughts are predicted by the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report. This report is based on sophisticated computer models which use more than a century of weather data. It was extremely thoroughly peer-reviewed and vetted. I'm not arguing with that.

We should stop burning fossil fuels because it will help the economy.

A revenue neutral carbon tax would both help stop global warming and improve the economy. A carbon tax is a tax on CO2 emissions. Those are the emissions that cause global warming. A revenue neutral tax is a new tax which is offset by a decrease in other taxes. In the case of a revenue neutral carbon tax, the government would refund an equal share of the tax revenue to each American.

Coal miners and S.U.V. mechanics would lose their jobs, but solar technicians would gain jobs. So where does that leave us economically? According to Keynesian fiscal multiplier theory (review your macroeconomics 102 here), right back where we started. The carbon tax would depress economic output (lost jobs in the coal industry). Americans would spend their carbon tax refund checks disproportionately on solar and wind power (more jobs in those industries). Because the amount of the tax is equals to the amount of the refund, the effect on economic output (GDP) is neutral.

The carbon tax and tax refund puts money into the pockets of Americans who produce less CO2 than average (those who consume fewer carbon intensive goods and services) and takes money from those who produce more CO2. On average, the wealthy produce more CO2 than the poor (when is the last time you saw a poor man with a private jet). The poor spend more of their income than the wealthy who save more. The monetary redistribution of the carbon tax and refund would stimulate the economy, increasing GDP and with it employment.

But we can do better. There will need to be improved energy infrastructure necessary to support the changes in energy production. Someone will have to build a new energy grid. Because the grid will support the new power sources that will sustain everyone, it makes sense that the government should pay for it. And low and behold, the government has a great source of revenue in the form of the carbon tax. It could take a portion of that tax and use it to build an improved grid. The increased spending would stimulate the economy even more than refunding the entire carbon tax. (Some percentage of the refunded tax is saved. That saved portion does not stimulate the economy.)

Have you seen the flaw in my argument yet? On its own, a carbon tax would make American industry less competitive. A factory in India would be able get its energy from the cheapest source possible (assuming India does not also implement a carbon tax) whereas a factory in Ohio would have to pay a carbon tax or buy more expensive clean energy. Companies would move production overseas. The carbon tax would be exporting both jobs AND pollution. Bad news. But it's easily fixed. The U.S. could simply slap onerous tariffs on goods from countries whose carbon emissions policy was not at least as progressive. As the largest consumer market in the world, every country will fall in line and adopt a carbon tax or something similar.

So there you have it. Of course, climate change is a great reason to implement a carbon tax. The scientific consensus is clear. Humans are causing the climate to warm and that warming will have dire consequences. We will have to address climate change in order to preserve our way of life. But if you don't believe that, fine. No problem. We should tax carbon emissions anyway. It will help the economy. The climate skeptic's economic argument falls flat on its face. Getting rid of fossil fuels won't cost us money. It will be a huge boost to the economy.