Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Our 95% nuclear/thermonuclear future

Even if we could produce 50% of today's world energy needs with renewables (sun, wind, water power) -- IOW even if we could produce as much renewable power as we are ever likely to produce -- that would only amount to 5% of the power the world will need 100 years from now when we will need 10X as much (think all rich countries, population growth).

A 95% nuclear future is the only way to go -- adding on thermonuclear when we get there.  Thermonuclear will be a along time -- similar to applying steam power to transport and manufacturing.  It took a lot of very able people 200 years to bring steam along from pumping water out of coal mines to riding on rails.  May take 50 years for equivalent progress in thermo.

Meantime there may realistically be 1000 times the proven reserves of uranium out there.  Doesn't take much -- a pound of nuclear fuel provides as much power as 200,000 pounds of coal.  Ditto may even be extracted from the oceans (like thermo's deuterium).

The Japanese reactor disaster was easily avoided.  They only had to to keep their backup power supply high up enough to not be swamped by a tsunami -- which they were warned could happen.  Nobody died on Three Mile Island.  The Russian meltdown doesn't count for us.  Earth civilization is going to self-incinerate if we don't go nuclear -- totally.

Disposing of spent fuel: how many coal mines or salt mines, etc., have we dug while waiting to dig a few uranium sites?

That's the physics of it -- can't imagine how we will handle the politics and economics of it -- 95% nuclear/thermonuclear or bust.

The book you want to read (I could only read about half -- too technical in parts) is: The Future of Fusion Energy by Jason Parisi and Justine Ball.

For the histoy of steam among other power sources, check out: Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes (Pulitzer Prize winning  author of Th Making of the Atomic Bomb).

Monday, July 1, 2019

Max wage extract at 25/15/7% labor costs firms -- ask the 40/50/60%

Most would agree that a minimum wage should extract the max consumers will pay -- which fits mostly at highest labor costs/low wage firms (e.g., 25% labor cost, Burger King).

Allowing that, why should consumers be spared, for years, paying as much as minimum wage labor is really worth to them -- why so many multi-year steps up to the bottom of the barrel?

Most should also agree that employees at lower labor costs businesses (e.g., 15% labor costs Walgreen's and Target; 7% costs Walmart) should equally be able to extract the max from consumers.  Why should we desire a different standard of wage setting for different labor cost levels -- or because maxing labor's take results in $20/25 hourly wages instead of $15 -- kind of arbitrary, no?

Collective bargaining: is there any other way for the 40/50/60% to recoup their long lost living wages?  40% today earn less hourly than what the minimum wage should be -- $15 -- most substantially less.

If, early in American labor history, we laid down truly efficacious federal protections for collective bargaining rights, then, starting a couple of generations ago, it would have been much tougher for ownership to begin (illegally) dismantling, door jam by door jam, our former labor union superstructure (down to -7% private union density).

Too late for such laws now.  Institute card check, fines that are more than the cost of doing business, Canadian seriousness implementation NLRB orders -- and in ten years American labor unions might crawl back to 15% density -- never know.  Think of those interchangeable workers at Target and Walgreen's: think most are ready and eager to hit the picket lines?  The testosterone premium (ask my old, 1970, 804 Teamsters or today's CTU) is not universally on tap.  We need more like 50-75% unions to take our country back from the billionaire state -- same total campaign finance and most of the votes (plus lobbying critical mass to tackle every issue from drug prices to student loans).

Two inequality-menders management cannot disrupt or discombobulate -- two laws: minimum wage laws and regularly scheduled, by law, union cert/re-cert/de-cert elections.

Why Not Hold Union Representation Elections on a Regular Schedule?
Andrew Strom — November 1st, 2017
"Republicans in Congress have already proposed a bill [*] that would require a new election in each unionized bargaining unit whenever, through turnover, expansion, or merger, a unit experiences at least 50 percent turnover.  While no union would be happy about expending limited resources on regular retention elections, I think it would be hard to turn down a trade that would allow the 93% of workers who are unrepresented to have a chance to opt for unionization on a regular schedule."
[*] https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2723/text

What kills me: Andy Strom's proposal could potentially leave every other campaign topic in its center-of-attention dust and serve up Democrats a guaranteed 2020 big win -- but nobody even takes a poll.  Ask the 40/50/60%.