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Regulation etc.

From: Don W.
Sent on: Sunday, March 17, 2013 9:31 PM
Joseph, you make a good number of excellent points. Obviously liberals will consider both sides of questions about regulation. There so many regulatory issues where society will become grossly dysfunctional without regulation. There were many cases in American history where a great many people died because modern fire safety rules were not in place. A recent case in the third world with over 100 people dying needlessly illustrated this point. Apparently the conservative take on this is that workers should evaluate the quality of working conditions and just not offer to work at a place that does not have proper fire safety provisions. They think this without the slightest evidence that this thinking took place in the past or would ever really happen in the future. We have overwhelming evidence that markets either do work in this way or they work extremely poorly.
I think almost everyone on this list might agree with myself and Joseph about reforming the regulation of solar energy installations. With tens of thousands of different permitting regimes around solar energy it would be very difficult for any national organization to properly price residential solar energy. Every local government will deal with permitting differently.
We have so many cases where conservatives (both fiscal and social) will make outrageously false statements. They will do this with a level of certainly that is astounding. The CPAC conference had numerous people asserting that GOP policies promote growth and opportunity. The say this despite the overwhelming evidence that fiscal austerity destroys growth. There is also a record that in decades since Reagan has shown a definite reduction in the migration of people to higher social classes and incomes. Opportunity is being destroyed with GOP policies.
When the super rich incrementally remove an increasing proportion of the financial chips from the broader economy the net result is a notable reduction in the size of the middle class. Thus CPAC operatives continuous repeat the false claim that “The GOP is the ticket to the middle class.”
The problem is that there are two different neural mechanisms to articulate our understandings of the moral good. One will weigh the harm and benefit of actions under considerations. This one is totally disassociated with a tribal instinct. The other is very much associated with assimilating the rules of a tribe. This is done without looking at any evidence concerning harm or benefit. Conservatives are differentially motivated by this second mechanism. They are very loyal and organized in promoting their counter-factual propaganda. In evolutionary history tribes that followed their leaders survived and prospered, especially in violent competition with nearby tribes. In a time of war it is good to act as a group in response to exterior threat.
Since the liberal side does not have this tribal loyalty we are much less effective in forming loyalty and shared action in a group. We are much more open to considering evidence but it does not much help to bring us together for shared action. Chris Mooney suggests that liberals should just decide to act more like conservatives to more effectively push back against the nonsense. My view is good luck with that. Our neurobiology is as it is. I will be happy with whatever group loyalty evolves. The single most important thing for an atheist is to become comfortable that reality is as it is.
I think the important thing in our discussions with conservatives is to realize that their ability to consider harm and benefit has not been destroyed. If we just bring our discussions back to the evidence we will find that some of them get it. Moreover, they will make great and very loyal friends. My guess is that if we are going to come together as a group that makes a notable difference in the real world it will be because our arguments win over the conservatives in our group.
Also to be clear, liberal thinking is not perfect. The conservatives will understand some aspects of markets that the liberals just ignore. It is not that liberals cannot take the unintended side effects into consideration. It is just that if we do not include the conservatives in our discussion we will not hear things that we need to hear.
On flame wars, there will not be any of them. The standard of discussion here is that we talk about the evidence and how reasoning works with that evidence. Anyone who tries to disparage another member directly rather than talk about evidence is likely to be banned. The tools to moderate discussions here do not really exist. The only option that I have is to act like the Red Queen and simply remove people from the ability to post to our list. So let's all place nice on this list as we discuss things.
From: Joseph B <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Friday, March 15,[masked]:28 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Use of Meetup Email List

Zach, I'm assuming out of the numerous positions outlined by Don, these two are the most pertinent to your argument:  

Solar Energy in DC
Germans install solar energy systems on residential roofs for about $2 per peak watt. In DC multiple vendors are able to do it for $4 per peak watt or slightly less. A major difference is that in Germany there are no required permits and inspections reducing costs by about $2,000 on average. There is a web based form that needs to be filled in no more than two hours. A German installation is typically done in two weeks or less. The complexity of the American process can requires much more time and higher profit margins. What would you advocate to bring DC costs down to something closer to the average in Germany?
 Net Zero Buildings
Mayor Grey has released an impressive Sustainable DC plan. It says that almost 75% of the energy in DC is consumed by buildings(p 58) primarily for heating, lighting and air conditioning. There is a goal of requiring all new building to be netzero by 2025. That means that the building produces as much or more energy than it consumes. There is the further goal of retrofitting all existing and multi-family buildings to be netzero by 2032. The plan notes DC's first passive house in Deanwood which meets a very high standard of energy efficiency. What policies would you recommend for DC to address energy efficient buildings?
Of those two, the top portion asking for less regulation should be amenable with your position. I'm assuming "requiring" all new net zero buildings by 2025 is the one you disagree with according to the principle "Controlling people is much worse for the "environment" than any of the consequences of those people's actions."
Unfortunately, what you've failed to realize is you're essentially taking popular narratives and asking us to accept their truth precisely because they're "self-evident". Other examples of this type of thinking includes: 
- Kids today are total morons compared to their predecessors. 
- professors know nothing useful but theories. 
- All politicians are corrupt and greedy.  
There is no further need to examine data. There's no need to look at evidence. it is always the case because it's a popular narrative and it must be true. 
So "forcing" car makers for example, to create every new car with a seatbelt has now made everyone worse off... 
"Forcing" a racist employer who only wants to hire white people has now made society worse off.  
In these two specific instances I suppose you'd prefer if the government took an "advisory" role... as in we advice you to create seatbelts. We advice you not to marry 7 year old girls. We advice you not to discriminate.  
At some point Zach, seriously examine the truth of your narratives. This either/or all or nothing thinking that fails to see nuance and understand gray areas is precisely the type of thinking that religious folks tend to have..... 

Let the flame wars begin :) 

On Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 5:10 PM, Zach Moore <[address removed]> wrote:
Let's just make something clear. Controlling people is much worse for the "environment" than any of the consequences of those people's actions. As long as you remit yourself to the position of advice giver and not slave master of the public good, then y'all should feel free to rhapsodize all you want about the environment and your own personal initiatives. 
On Mar 15,[masked]:53 PM, "Don Wharton" <[address removed]> wrote:
Yes, we do need to start thinking more deeply about how we live together. I think most of us are only slightly unhappy with the rise in food prices. Not all of us connect the dots and see that much of the rise is linked to the droughts we had last year and those droughts are what is expected with global warming AND that future impacts will be much more severe. There seems to be a consensus that agriculture in the American southwest will be in trouble. It is not as clear that the breadbasket of our nation will eventually turn into a scrub desert destroying a much bigger part of our agricultural productivity.
Sub-Sahara Africa has been subjected to waves of starvation in the past. Those are very likely to become worse. The IPCC reports do not project mass starvation from weather changes. The actual magnitude of precipitation will increase because a warmer atmosphere will contain more water. They do know that the water will come in bigger chunks, causing flooding. They also know that a hotter atmosphere will suck more of the moisture out of the ground which will make droughts worse. They have not put the dots together to see that our farmers will have a very tough time dealing with the changes. To some extent the efficiency of agriculture is dependent on having the expertise and investment in a given agricultural area tuned to what can be expected. When the expectations change there is no guarantee that adjustments can be made. Our Midwestern farmers can start growing cactus crops and we can import wheat from Siberia. I somehow doubt that we will find that satisfactory.
The IPCC reports have consistently been off the mark in their projections. Reality seems to have tracked the absolutely worst aspects of every projection that they have made. Obviously they are leaning over backwards to be careful in what they say. That carefulness has meant that the scientific consensus does not really capture the reality of how bad things will be. The instincts to be cautious and careful in the scientific reporting is, in my opinion, resulting in a systematic distortion in the magnitude of our understanding of what can be expected.

From: Chad <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Thursday, March 14,[masked]:34 AM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Use of Meetup Email List

Chad Albus <[address removed]> wrote:

Ultimately, in spite of my hostility towards religion in general, I think it may be critical to start pushing a sustainable / green energy / pro-depopulation agenda across the god fearing and godless spectrum.  If we cannot form a majority within the human community that seeks to find alternatives to the production and consumption of food, population, new construction techniques, and manufacturing then we humans living today may quickly run our course and deservedly so.  People who understands nature and mankind's  good stewardship thereof more than make up for their short comings in religious belief.  A solid environmentalist, who thinks magic underwear will expedite their journey to heaven, trumps the typical SUV driving - mcmansion dwelling - plastic water bottle consuming - secularist any day.  I have never once referred a fundamentalist christian to the Origin of Species with any hope of conversion.  However, preventing human extinction through environmentalism can cut across all walks of life and mystical beliefs... I hope.

Chad Albus

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