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[RD] Identifying Problems in the United States

So GINI coefficients measure equality, but not the level of wealth. Is poorer but more equal better than less equal but richer?
 
So GINI coefficients measure equality, but not the level of wealth. Is poorer but more equal better than less equal but richer?
There has to be some relationship f(wealth, equality) = goodness, and it seems certain that it will be monotonic in both variables. The relative effect would be a great economics PhD I reckon (or perhaps 100).
 
Concrete reabsorbs the CO2 it gives off in making quicklime while setting

Not really, that only traps a certain percent of the CO2 it releases, the rest goes up into the air.

I expect ruminants to become a very niche thing once the full economic cost is payed by the consumer.

Assuming you can convince the majority of Americans to ditch eating steak.

and I would be surprised if the picture is much different for smelting.

For smelting you have to remember that the vast amount of metals are found in nature in the form of oxide ores. That means after mining the only way you can extract the metal from the ore is to use heat and a carbon based fuel to carbonize the ore so the carbon bonds with the oxygen in the ore to form CO2. After the CO2 is burned off, the metal is now found in the form of a bloom containing slag (left over impurities from the ore). The bloom is then heated up until liquified then the slag floats to the top of the molten metal where it is skimmed off. Then you have the pure metal.

However if making steel, carbon has to be used again if you want to improve the iron's strength and reduce/prevent it's ability to rust. So instead once you get to the bloom making phase, the bloom is carbonized immensely in a blast furnace from the raw ore. What comes out is called pig iron, a highly carbonized form of iron that's so brittle it's practically worthless, as it has too much carbon to make it durable. With steel you can't have too little or too much carbon to make it, hence why in the next phase you have to re-smelt the pig iron multiple times in order to burn off the excess carbon (which escapes as yet more CO2). Through this process the pig iron is reduced into cast iron, high carbon steel, low carbon steel, or wrought iron if you so choose. Add in chromium to the mix and you now have stainless steel.

Now one would wonder why can't we just recycle already made steel in an electric arc furnace? We can. The problem with that is you now cap humanities steel supply at a fixed amount, meaning that if the population were to grow you could no longer build any further steel buildings and vehicles other than the ones we currently have. Big problem if we are to expect the population to grow to 10 billion as predicted, hence new ore would have to be mined and carbonized. This applies to all metals as well, not just steel, as they are all extracted from oxides and choosing to endlessly recycle caps the metal supply that can be used.

In the particular case of steel, whenever it is recycled and smelted again, some carbon burns off of it in the form of CO2. Steel is after all an alloy of iron with carbon. This means the steel is also losing it's strength and becoming softer with each recycle, resembling more and more like pure iron. This is bad if you want recycled steel to maintain it's structural integrity and resistance to corrosion. So often times after steel is recycled in an electric arc furnace, it's then taken back to a blast furnace where it can be re-carbonized by coal coke. And of course this final process produces, guess what? More CO2.
 
Not really, that only traps a certain percent of the CO2 it releases, the rest goes up into the air.



Assuming you can convince the majority of Americans to ditch eating steak.



For smelting you have to remember that the vast amount of metals are found in nature in the form of oxide ores. That means after mining the only way you can extract the metal from the ore is to use heat and a carbon based fuel to carbonize the ore so the carbon bonds with the oxygen in the ore to form CO2. After the CO2 is burned off, the metal is now found in the form of a bloom containing slag (left over impurities from the ore). The bloom is then heated up until liquified then the slag floats to the top of the molten metal where it is skimmed off. Then you have the pure metal.

However if making steel, carbon has to be used again if you want to improve the iron's strength and reduce/prevent it's ability to rust. So instead once you get to the bloom making phase, the bloom is carbonized immensely in a blast furnace from the raw ore. What comes out is called pig iron, a highly carbonized form of iron that's so brittle it's practically worthless, as it has too much carbon to make it durable. With steel you can't have too little or too much carbon to make it, hence why in the next phase you have to re-smelt the pig iron multiple times in order to burn off the excess carbon (which escapes as yet more CO2). Through this process the pig iron is reduced into cast iron, high carbon steel, low carbon steel, or wrought iron if you so choose. Add in chromium to the mix and you now have stainless steel.

Now one would wonder why can't we just recycle already made steel in an electric arc furnace? We can. The problem with that is you now cap humanities steel supply at a fixed amount, meaning that if the population were to grow you could no longer build any further steel buildings and vehicles other than the ones we currently have. Big problem if we are to expect the population to grow to 10 billion as predicted, hence new ore would have to be mined and carbonized. This applies to all metals as well, not just steel, as they are all extracted from oxides and choosing to endlessly recycle caps the metal supply that can be used.

In the particular case of steel, whenever it is recycled and smelted again, some carbon burns off of it in the form of CO2. Steel is after all an alloy of iron with carbon. This means the steel is also losing it's strength and becoming softer with each recycle, resembling more and more like pure iron. This is bad if you want recycled steel to maintain it's structural integrity and resistance to corrosion. So often times after steel is recycled in an electric arc furnace, it's then taken back to a blast furnace where it can be re-carbonized by coal coke. And of course this final process produces, guess what? More CO2.
I was convinced that the actual CO2 produced from reduction of iron ore would be insignificant in the whole process, but you are right:

Every ton of steel produced in 2018 emitted on average 1.85 tons of carbon dioxide, equating to about 8 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.
Still, there has to be options. I suspect a lot of the things we get from oil today will be got from wood distillate in the future, and this will leave charcoal. The charcoal could be used to reduce iron ore.
 
It's more than just energy usage. Vast amounts of greenhouse gases are produced from livestock, concrete, and metallurgy. That only solves part of the problem. Scientist claim we have to get to net zero emissions, not simply a reduction, for the climate to be stable.

Don't get this too twisted, energy is by far the main game here, both in terms of scale and substitution possibilities.

Something like three quarters of global emissions are from stationary and transport energy use (iron and steel are about 7%, that is part of energy use since they use coal to do it). Agriculture and other land is a bit under 20%, and concrete production is about 3%.
 
So GINI coefficients measure equality, but not the level of wealth. Is poorer but more equal better than less equal but richer?

You can do wealth Ginis as well, or anything else. It's just a mathematical formula for the distribution of a set of numbers. Also it's a name, not an acronym, so like Elo it's lower case.

 
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You posted income, this is wealth. What it means is that in places like the Netherlands or the US, some people own a looooooot of stuff while most people don't own much (wealth here is basically property and savings and pensions). Whereas in Myanmar or Timor Leste, assuming accuracy of the data, there are not much in the way of people who own a lot of wealth compared to everyone else.

Note that global wealth inequality is nearly as high as the Netherlands here.
 
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As for why this is the case, I think it's because most households in the Netherlands carry a lot of mortgage debt and pensions aren't done as individual accounts but as transfer payments from collective accounts, excluding them from individual wealth measures.
 
Biggest problem in the United States today is the Republican Party.
Actually, it's the 2-party system that has allowed the republicans to sink as low as they can.
 
iron and steel are about 7%, that is part of energy use since they use coal to do it

Which isn't energy so much as steel needs carbon in order to make it. You can't make steel without using a carbon fuel source. You also can't extract any type of metal from an oxide ore without using some form of carbon to bind with the oxygen and get the pure metal. CO2 is the natural byproduct of all of this
 
The charcoal could be used to reduce iron ore.

Charcoal is not as carbon dense as coal. You need more of it to compensate. Also you have the added problem of having to suddenly chop down many trees to provide enough fuel. Tree farms are only so effective, as it takes 20 years between each rotational harvest, and it can't be scaled up too much do to limits on land usage. The other option would be unsustainable strip logging like what's happening in the Amazon, very bad for the environment and reduces the Earth's ability to recapture carbon.
 
Actually, it's the 2-party system that has allowed the republicans to sink as low as they can.

Republicans are a problem bigger than the Democrats.

But the problems are also cultural and the way they're going about it is wrong.

You still have sensationalism media that's garbage as well.
 
There are some interesting ideas about taking carbon out of the atmosphere. I think the best ways are "naturally" with ocean fertilisation with iron or forestation

I believe the best ways are "artificially" through geoengineering. In particular either spraying aerosols into the atmosphere or dimming the amount of sunlight we receive through satellites. Elon Musk can already quite easily make the later possible. This would allow us more time to convert our economy over to more sustainable means rather than rushing before the precarious 2050 deadline arrives.

Personally I have no moral issues with us going all in with geoengineering. I know it bugs some people out who think we'd screw up and cause a worse disaster. But honestly such fear is just nonsensical paranoia like having a fear of GMOs or vaccines. However if we put the trust of such projects in the hands of climatologists who know what they're doing, we should all be just fine. Manmade climate change was already caused by artificial means, so why not solve it with something artificial?
 
Actually, it's the 2-party system that has allowed the republicans to sink as low as they can.

It's not the only factor, and the Democratic party is also trash. But yes, 2 party system will necessarily create problems over time. I'm a fan of the CGP Grey line about voter approval vs re-election rates lol.
 
You posted income, this is wealth. What it means is that in places like the Netherlands or the US, some people own a looooooot of stuff while most people don't own much (wealth here is basically property and savings and pensions). Whereas in Myanmar or Timor Leste, assuming accuracy of the data, there are not much in the way of people who own a lot of wealth compared to everyone else.

Note that global wealth inequality is nearly as high as the Netherlands here.

One would expect the richest people in Japan to have a whole lot more wealth than the average person :)
Also, apparently there is some wealth stashed in that Car.
 
Equality:

I'm going to frame this a little differently than you might figure. There has been recent research suggesting an increase in despair in the United States, despite the fact that this country has continued as by far the wealthiest in the world. You can't quite pin the problem on economics, or something tangible. In fact, by many measures, violence, early pregnancies and some types of drug use - the standard indicators of social despair - are down. More people are taking serious drugs, that often result in death, and that is just a symptom of something really bad that is happening. A somewhat related issue is race. Again, I don't think any one statistic captures what happens here. Minorities get trapped into an authoritarian and impersonal legal system that primarily serves the needs of those with money and influence. This system doesn't "temper mercy with justice", as it we as a country are morally obligated to do. Moreover, unwittingly, our nation has created a structure that reserves privilege, honor and material comfort to a limited few. This system doesn't exclude minorities, but it caters to the majority, and minorities fall out of the system early and often. Not only is this bad for the long-term health of the economy, but it is fundamentally unjust. And it results in minorities disproportionately falling into the "despair zone" of US society. And in that despair zone, they are more likely to encounter real and unfortunately still extant racism.

I hope you don't jump on me for how I framed the problems. I tried to do so in a nuanced way based on research and scholarship, rather than relying on more common notions. I also think that a lot of discussion pre-supposes some ideas that probably need to be justified before they are included. And of course, feel free to add other problems you think are worth discussing.

The poor and racially oppressed getting a raw deal isn't a new thing for the United States. They've pretty much always been in the "despair zone". What's new is a whole lot of middle-class White Americans now joining them, some out of real grievances, others perceived.

I think this is complicated by my suspicion that I don't think Americans actually place a lot of value on equality, culturally speaking.

There are basically three things that characterise a free society: individual liberty, diversity or tolerance of differences, and social cohesion (manifesting most clearly in a strong welfare state). Most countries only manage two out of three. My country Australia for instance has high diversity and high social cohesion, while individual liberties tend to be more restricted by both law and cultural expectations. Tall poppy syndrome and all that.

Americans have no social cohesion to speak of, exchanging it for high diversity, and maxed out on individual liberty. I think a lot of Americans, White Americans in particular, and White working- and middle-class Americans especially, are feeling like that last one, the highest value of their culture, is under increasing threat, and they are unwilling to accept its loss for the promise of equality/social cohesion. You can see this in obvious things like the rise of the "free speech warrior", but also non-obvious things like American left-wing discourse being focused on getting justice/revenge for wronged individuals or groups of individuals and often using intensely personal language, reading more like a call for the promise of individual liberty to be fulfilled with equality a secondary concern.

In short, I don't think the issue is so much inequality as social mobility. The two are related of course, but Americans generally, as far as I can see, don't have much of an issue with concentrations of great wealth and power, as long as they perceive that they are rightly earned, and as long as the path to attaining that wealth and power is open to those like themselves. On the other paw inherited wealth, or an entrenched class of "elites", especially one that seems hell bent on telling people below them what they can or can't say, is enraging.
 
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