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Thread: U.S. Has No Way Out of Debt Trap

  1. #26
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    But we get more than a third of the world's power from oil. We can't use energy produced from oil to make oil.
    Use nuclear power.

    I'm talking about scandium, yttrium, lanthanum and about a dozen other -ums. Elements like these make it possible to keep making chips faster, smaller and more powerful.
    The cost of these elements is directly proportional to the cost of the energy needed to extract them. Some elements, like copper and iron, take relatively little energy to extract than, for example, aluminum. This makes the production of aluminum vary more with energy than iron where more energy goes into transportation than refining.

    Also, the great bulk of electronics goes into things like cars, microwave ovens, and industrial mechanisms where size and speed are of little concern compared to cost and reliability (which is just another measure for cost). Things like iPods and Blackberries are small consumers of these rare elements. Our standard of living is as high as it is because of embedded electronics, not because of portable music players. Silicon, aluminum, carbon and other materials needed to make semiconductors remain very abundant.

    We don't need those rare elements to raise the rest of the world to our own (or at least very near our own, some things like iPods might not be possible because of such shortages) just so long as energy is available.

    Not only could nuclear power provide the energy we need but also some of those rare elements for making iPods from fission products.

    The world could overcome this inevitable math by discovering some cheap way to produce lots of energy.
    We have that in nuclear power. The problem is political, not technological. So many fear nuclear weapons development that they would rather freeze to death than see a nuclear power plant built.

    Nuclear power right now produces electricity with a cost on parity with coal. If it was so expensive then those power plants would have been shut down long ago. If there wasn't so much needless paperwork from the politically driven federal government then it would not be so expensive to build new nuclear power plants.
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  2. #27
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    But we get more than a third of the world's power from oil. We can't use energy produced from oil to make oil.
    Keeping looking, there are other sources of power that don't depend on oil, sunshine and the wishes and dreams of the green movement. Here's a hint, in the right kind of generator, it makes it's own fuel.

  3. #28
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    The world could overcome this inevitable math by discovering some cheap way to produce lots of energy.
    We'll still need oil for lubricants, plastics, fiberglass, and the myriad of products made from oil.

  4. #29
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    We'll still need oil for lubricants, plastics, fiberglass, and the myriad of products made from oil.
    Those can be synthesized using the Fisher-Tropsch process mentioned by OfficersWife. This process, or similar ones, are already used to create synthetic lubricants. I suspect the only reason that these synthesized oils are not used for fuel is because the alternative is much less expensive and the precision of the properties required for fuel is much lower than that for lubrication. Economies of scale would very likely bring down the price soon enough if there became a need or desire to do so.
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  5. #30
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    Economies of scale would very likely bring down the price soon enough if there became a need or desire to do so.
    While we are waiting for new technology to replace oil, it's stupid that we are not drilling in Anwar. There's enough there for 100 years of our oil needs.
    Here's a hint, in the right kind of generator, it makes it's own fuel.
    ..and that is?
    Fusion? Please.

  6. #31
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    HEY! WAKE UP!

    We better stay "in debt"!

    This is a world economy, NOT just the U.S.

    Much the same as a Mortgage debt gives valuation to a house, which any

    SANE banker holding said mortgage is loath to value said house UNDER,

    the world economy sees our debt a a major part of the value of our economy

    and nation. With less debt, other countries with whom our finances in the world

    economy are intertwined would hold us at a smaller fiscal value, also.

    Look at it this way, if WE can't get out of debt, neither can anybody else...

    ...which overall, is not particularly a bad thing.(But I still can't understand

    why congress can't draft a law without spending billions of dollars...)

    So don't get too bent out of shape by the ALPO and Viagara pushers who call

    themselves "responsible journalists".

  7. #32
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    While we are waiting for new technology to replace oil, it's stupid that we are not drilling in Anwar. There's enough there for 100 years of our oil needs.
    I believe that you missed my point. We don't need new technology, we know all we need to know to make this work, we just need the government to get out of the way and actually issue some permits to allow construction to begin.

    I agree that it is stupid to not drill in ANWR. I did some quick reading from a Google search and it seems that both the pro and con groups agree that ANWR can produce about 1% of the oil the world consumes. That equates to 4% of the oil that the USA consumes. What the two groups disagree on is the value of that 1% of world oil supply. The con group claims that 1% is not worth drilling since it would be just a drop in the bucket. The pro group (which includes a certain Iowa farm boy) points out that it would create jobs, reduce the amount of dollars leaving our borders, and create revenue for the federal and state governments from leases and taxes.

    What I found amusing was in a certain article it said that drilling might become unprofitable if oil prices were to drop. OK, that part wasn't amusing but at that time, 2004, the price of oil the price of oil was under $35 per barrel. What is it now in 2011? $107 per barrel? I think that profitability on the drilling should not be much of an issue any more.

    The con group likes to point out that the drilling in ANWR would not likely lower the price of oil since it would produce such a small percentage of the world supply. I would point out that is a good thing since profitability would then be almost assured.

    Here's a hint, in the right kind of generator, it makes it's own fuel.
    ..and that is?
    Fusion? Please.
    I believe OfficersWife is making reference to breeder reactors. These reactors can turn lead into gold. Well, not quite, but they can turn relatively abundant and cheap thorium and depleted uranium into nuclear fuel.

    I don't like the term "makes it's own fuel" since it gives the impression of a perpetual motion machine. The truth is that it can burn 98% of the fuel instead of only 1% of the fuel like current designs. It does this by both turning the non-fissionable U-238 into fissionable P-239 from the neutrons produced and by "burning" up some of the fission poisons that would prevent continued fission in current designs.
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  8. #33
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    Hi Guns and More,

    ..and that is?
    Fusion? Please.
    So called breeder reactors 'create' fissionable material from non-fissionable. "Makes it's own fuel" is not really accurate I suppose but on the practical level far more convertable energy potential comes out than goes in.

    Theory

  9. #34
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    I believe OfficersWife is making reference to breeder reactors. These reactors can turn lead into gold. Well, not quite, but they can turn relatively abundant and cheap thorium and depleted uranium into nuclear fuel.
    I agree. But........
    Forget building ANY nuclear plants for the next 30 yrs after the Japanese disaster. (I know, it's not logical, but when does the gub'ment ever act logically?)
    So, we are stuck. Our oil or their oil. I vote ours, Obama wants to enrich everyone else, even to the point of loaning Brazil $2 billion to drill for oil to sell to us.
    Drill, mine, or buy from crazy people. (no offense to Brazil, I'm talking OPEC)

  10. #35
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    I support building more fission reactors. But then, I don't mind a little socialism in my energy policy.

    The truth is, new nuclear plants are too expensive for private companies to build here in 2011. Not only are the capital outlays huge, but nobody can afford the liability coverage. As we're seeing in Japan, nuclear disasters are low probability high consequence events. Any insurance company would be wiped out by an accident, no matter what the premiums charged. The same goes double for a self-insured power company.

    The only organization in the United States capable of shouldering that burden IS the United States. I would like to see a huge federally funded nuclear construction program. I'm afraid it won't happen. Those who like to spend hate nuclear power. Those who like nukes hate spending.
    Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
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  11. #36
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    The only organization in the United States capable of shouldering that burden IS the United States. I would like to see a huge federally funded nuclear construction program.
    Uh, you had best check your figures again, the US gov is drowning in red ink. Their debt load minus income is far more than the entire GNP of the majority of nations.

  12. #37
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    Sigh, unknown to a lot of people old dried up wells no longer considered are filling up again, it's not magic it's oil filling a void from where we took it from. In addition there is billions of gallons of oil not considered seriously by corporations because it is dirty oil (high sulfur) or harder to extract (oil shale). Enhanced oil recovery wells have side effects but they also increase yields from all fields and make dirty fields productive.

    There is enough raw material to raise everybody's standard of living but high wage union workers, artists, performers, athletes and corporate warriors need to lower their income expectations. The insane desire to keep up with or pass the Jones's standard of conspicuous consumption needs to be replaced with pride in more laudable goals like public service and less in how many toys you have to show off.

    The waste we produce and bury in the ground would raise many countries standards of living if they could get their hands on it. Right now we are in hock to China and dependent on them for rare earth minerals and metals but there isn't a single one they have that we don't also have. The reason we are dependent is because the cost to us to mine and process those rare earths is astronomical due to labor and processing costs, part OSHA, part union and in my opinion mostly government interference in something they know nothing about. The same can be said for our shoe production, the steel we use to make our buildings, bridges and automobiles.

    The same for our ship yards, even the shirts I used to get made in South Carolina are now made overseas. Instead of making them and selling them the producers are making them cheaper and selling them to us. Priced ourselves right out of a whole industry because the government wouldn't ease up, the unions wouldn't give and the boardroom weren't interested in jobs or local economy or 12 years down the road. The only thing that counted was today's profits. We are not in debt.

    Debt is borrowing for something we need like a house but only to the extent we can pay it back. If we cannot pay it back then we are broke. We are half a step from broke to the point of having to the point we will have to turn our backs on people who can't pfoduce anymore like those on disability and retired folks unable to produce enough income to fend for themselves. It isn't just an economic crisis it is a crisis of family or the lack of families.

    When I was young 2 and 3 generations, sometimes 4 in a household was not unusual or thought of as a hardship. It's what you did, ma and pa took care of you and you took care of them in turn. Sacrifices made but nobody suffered. Who are you going to turn to when you family if you have one is scattered from Fort Myers Florida to Tacoma Washington and they wouldn't know who their cousins are if they ran into them on the street. That was also when raw material casually tossed in the trash heap today was used, passed down, repaired and used again or recycled into new tools, toys or household products.

    Yeah, I'm old fashioned, sue me. Get along with less, ask for less for what you have and for your labor, get reintroduced to your family and build bridges. When or if you need it is more likely to mean more coming from family then from a government aid check. Alice in Benkelman Nebraska should not be having to pay for Fred the Street Rat's methadone in Chicago. Fred had a mother, father, brother or sister. It is their job. Feds, hear me, protect our borders and get out of our daily lives. Enough with the best government money can buy if the only people with money are lobbyists. Trim the bloated Federal payroll and stop with the unconstitutional meddling in affairs you have no business being in.
    1934 National Firearms Act, 1968 The Gun Control Act, 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, 1993 Brady Handguns Violence Act, 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, 1995 Gun Free School Zones Act, NO MORE COMPROMISING

  13. #38
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    ...the US gov is drowning in red ink.
    I think a few billion spent on a sustainable domestic energy source would be a investment in long term debt reduction. And if the federal government can't afford to build nuclear plants, there's no way Duke Energy or ConEdison could.
    Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
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  14. #39
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    And if the federal government can't afford to build nuclear plants, there's no way Duke Energy or ConEdison could.
    ConEd I agree, Duke I'm not familiar with. A proper utility would build such a plant in safe and cost effective manner and treat it as a protected asset ensuring upkeep and upgrades. One need only look at the interstate highway system bridges to imagine the kind of condition a federally run reactor would be in at the midpoint of it's effective life. Quite frankly, the upgrade of control systems requiring thousands of man hours in committee, then facing the possibility of a walk out by the legislators doesn't get me a warm fuzzy feeling. Something with that possibility of potential harm needs responsible leadership. Neither state or federal officials fit that bill.

  15. #40
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    One need only look at the interstate highway system bridges to imagine the kind of condition a federally run reactor would be in at the midpoint of it's effective life.
    The US Navy has some pretty good federally run reactors. Put them in charge. The Tennessee Valley Authority's reactors are pretty close to federally run. Their safety record is no worse than any body else's.

    I say let's take a chance.
    Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
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  16. #41
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    The US Navy has some pretty good federally run reactors. Put them in charge. The Tennessee Valley Authority's reactors are pretty close to federally run.
    The Navy is military and run completely different than the rest of the government. Their silliness is usually confined to 'issues' rather than equipment. As for TVA... even a closet communist like Roosevelt realized that power generation equipment was too dangerous to trust completely in government hands.

  17. #42
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    ...Roosevelt realized that power generation equipment was too dangerous to trust completely in government hands.
    For all practical purposes, all of TVA's assets are in the government's hands. My relatives who worked for TVA thought of themselves and acted as if they were federal employees. The Board of Directors is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. "If it walks like a duck..."

    Despite this taint of socialism they perform about as well as private power producers.
    Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
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  18. #43
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    My impression from some recent discussions with people in the industry is that nuclear power is back on the table for planning purposes. It's viability is affected by fossil fuel prices and emissions regulations as well as construction costs.....
    Paul
    People have some respect for the complexity of technology. But almost every ignorant fool thinks he understands money and economics.

  19. #44
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    Despite this taint of socialism they perform about as well as private power producers.
    The taint of socialism isn't the only concern. The government has a habit of using disasters to seize power as demonstrated by Katrina and the Twin Towers attack. History shows us that presidents will not always follow the standards of decency to gain more power and always seem to be able to persuade others to do their dirty work. Quite frankly, I wouldn't put it past a politician to create a nuclear emergency as a pretext to martial law. This makes me hesitant to allow government any role in nuclear power beyond regulation.

  20. #45
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    I wouldn't put it past a politician to create a nuclear emergency as a pretext to martial law.
    I don't know where this cottage industry came from: fear mongering that every President is a pit bull straining at the leash to steal our freedom. We've had this Constitution since 1789, and except for a few unfortunate local incidents, the only time we've experienced martial law was when actual rebellious armies were marching across the landscape. If freedom was that fragile, don't you think somebody would have come up with a scheme that would have worked?

    The government already owns plenty of assets to engineer an emergency. If a President wanted to create an excuse to declare martial law, the name on the deed to a nuclear power plant would be the least of his worries.

    But truthfully, politicians in the United States aren't plotting to install themselves as dictators. I disagree with about half the men and women leading the country, but I don't doubt any of their motives. Democrats, Republicans, Ron Paul or Bernie Sanders, they all love the country and are doing what they think is best for it. Unfortunately about half of them are wrong.
    Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
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  21. #46
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    Hi Lib,

    But truthfully, politicians in the United States aren't plotting to install themselves as dictators.
    The first role of government is to secure more power, this is why the Constitution was written to limit the power allowed by government and the politicians are so intent on 'reinterpreting' the Constitution. As it is the Constitution does not grant the fed the authority to own such a facility. Ergo, it should not.

  22. #47
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    The first role of government is to secure more power, this is why the Constitution was written to limit the power allowed by government and the politicians are so intent on 'reinterpreting' the Constitution. As it is the Constitution does not grant the fed the authority to own such a facility. Ergo, it should not.
    I would like to reword that just a little bit. The first duty of government is to protect the people. The first priority of political parties is to maintain themselves at all costs and that is why it is so difficult to get a third party on the ballot and why it is so difficult to get a straight answer from a party machine politician.

    Just personal opinion not really based on anything but gut feelings but our biggest downfall was putting politicians on TV, dropping whistle stop campaigning and stump speeches and replacing them with 30 second political ads. There is a lot more and politics has always been filthy dirty but this killed it for me.
    1934 National Firearms Act, 1968 The Gun Control Act, 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act, 1993 Brady Handguns Violence Act, 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, 1995 Gun Free School Zones Act, NO MORE COMPROMISING

  23. #48
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    I would like to reword that just a little bit. The first duty of government is to protect the people.
    Ideally government would work this way. But the gap between the ideal and practice is about the distance between England and Hawaii.

  24. #49
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    Lib -- did you ever read Seven Days in May? I first read it about 1966, and it still scares the hell out of me.

    That said, I am not that worried about any one possibility of .gov domination. Every time I hear the words "Homeland Security" I want to either throw up or punch somebody.
    Paul
    People have some respect for the complexity of technology. But almost every ignorant fool thinks he understands money and economics.

  25. #50
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    The Air Force has been concerned about getting enough oil to fly their planes in the event of a major war for some time now. I read a paper some years ago written by an Air Force officer about how much oil we have and how much we can produce. I believe the conclusion that this officer reached was that the US could produce enough fuel to keep its tanks rolling and fighters flying but no more. That would be sufficient for only a short time since the nation needed that fuel for things like food production, transportation of materials, and so forth to keep the military machine moving.

    Because of this paper, and others like it, the military has been researching smaller nuclear reactors to put in Navy warships so they don't have to burn the same fuel that would be needed to keep tanks and trucks moving. The Air Force has experimented with synthetic and bio-mass based fuels in cargo planes. I believe they will be running similar tests on bombers and tankers soon.

    What all branches of the military, and some civilian government agencies, have been considering is nuclear power plants to power military bases and some vital civilian areas. It takes a lot of power to keep the runways lit up, the radar going, run communications, and keep the buildings warm. If SHTF and the US finds itself in the middle of it then the military wants to be able to respond and not worry about the lights going out or, more likely, having to choose between tanking up the generators or the helicopters.

    I guess that is a long way of saying to those that don't like the idea of government owned and operated nuclear power plants is that it is almost inevitable that we will see the government own and operate nuclear power plants. Think of it this way, the government already has the capability to generate power on government facilities in the form of diesel generators for emergency power, some of them have dual use power plants that provide electricity and heat for the facilities, it does not take a huge leap of logic to consider that these same power plants might some day convert from heating oil and coal to nuclear.

    The US Navy has been running nuclear power on warships for a very long time. It does not take a huge leap in logic to come to the conclusion that some day the Navy might leverage that knowledge to provide power on land for military uses. I've read about some of the sneaky stuff the Navy has done to fund research in nuclear power while avoiding being shut down by other elements in the government. The Navy might just try to build a "training" nuclear reactor on a base somewhere that is a close approximation of one used on an aircraft carrier or submarine just so that they can avoid paying the electrical bills and be separate from the national power grid in case of an attack.
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