@wion @dredmorbius why would you punish the French citizens with a gas tax when the problem is not the 99%, but the 1%?

If you want to lower power usage / pollution you have to drop big, fat carbon taxes on the rich. They'll help solve the economies of scale when they invest in solutions that protect their bottom line and this tech will trickle down.

This is like the only trickle down that works. TAX THE RICH.

@feld You're addressing to different, though real and relevant problems.

One is under-pricing of fossil carbon fuels. Another is general inequality and inequity, as well as the age-old conflict between _rents_ incomes vs. _wages_ incomes. The rentiers generally win, the wage-earners generally lose.

There are additional taxes you want to impose on the 1%, but you _still_ have to make fossil fuels pay full freight.


@dredmorbius @wion the price of petrol in Europe is already prohibitively expensive. It still doesn't make sense if the pollution from average citizens combined is drastically lower in volume than a small number of companies and individuals -- you go after those who can weather the economic impact and pollute the most instead of tanking the economy because now everyone is struggling.

@feld First off, the issue in question was *electrical energy* not *petrol fuel*, as very few crypto-mining rigs burn petrol. For the fundamental reason expressed: IT'S TOO DAMNED EXPENSIVE.

Crypto mining is a COMPLETELY economically-driven process: the viability of crypto mining is driven by fixed and marginal costs, and the market price of bitcoins.

(I'm not even getting to the point that that market is completely whack, though read David Gerard's excellent book and anslysis.)


@feld EU petrol taxes are generally high *and have been for decades* with the consequence that the entire economy is based around the notion of *expensive petrol*. You have dense cities, small and efficient cars, effective mass transport, effective long-distance rail, bike-friendly infrastructure, and much else.

If you look at countries with cheap petrol, you have the reverse: sprawl, large fuel-hungry vehicles, no mass transit, no long-distance rail, bike-hostile infrastructure.


@feld The point here was that _computers_ are sucking up an increasing amount of net human energy consumption, about 6-7%, roughly the same amount as either marine shipping or aviation. That's in large part *because* computers have become so much more efficient and cheap. It's straight-up Jevons Paradox. Reduce the costs of a thing, and you *increase* effective demand.

And again: electricity, not petrol. So you're coming in from this about three ways wrong straight off the top.


@feld There are a few different classes of economic goods (or services), and they seem to have very distinct pricing dynamics, tied to power. A relationship you should probably appreciate.

Wages tend to, or below, subsistence, in a free market, absent corrective actions (labour laws, minimum wages, employer of last resort, unionisation). Rents tend to absorb consumer surplus value. A really bad place to be is a wage-earner in a rental market.

Commodities tend to low prices.



@feld ... and public goods (an economic term, not just "government-supplied stuff" but "zero marginal cost" or "nonexcludable consumption") also tend to below-cost values.

Then there's a whole slew of stuff that has wonky informational dynamics -- full costs aren't properly realised, and such. Pollution, basically. Those tend to be sold _below_ actual impact costs, and overconsumed.

Extractive resources (fossil fuels included) also get under-priced.

And yes, "the rich" benefit.


@feld So, yes, you're right in "tax the rich". You're wrong in focusing on petrol as a key element of fairness or even relevance to this discussion. Flat truth is that it's been *under-priced* for virtually its entire existence, and with some really staggering instances of how much so.

Unfortunately, we're also in a world that's come to depend on and expect that low price. Even Europe.

But our computers aren't burning petrol. They mostly burn coal and natgas. Some nuke & hydro.


@feld And the cheaper computer cycles get ... the more worthless crap we throw at them to burn more. Mastodon included ;-)

The computers I learned on -- PDP-11s mostly -- can run in emulation on today's mobile devices faster than they were natively in the 1970s and 1980s. They did a lot with not much, though it took training and experience to use them. (That's largely stayed relevant if you're a Linux / BSD user, modulo bits.) I've got a bunch of terminal sessions on my ...


@feld ... desktop now. Though there are things that I cannot _easily_ do with them (say, like grabbing a full post history from a Google+ user's profile), though I'd like to.

But a lot of things _are_ straightforward with text interfaces, and in many ways they're more efficient. Mostly what I do with them is strip crap from what's thrown at me by sites that I don't really need.

Because it's so cheap for them to do that. And because doing that is useful to them "on the market".


@feld That is: they're paid through advertising, nagging, and by hiving off poor users who cannot afford new systems that will work with all the crap they throw out on the wire.

Note that "incentivised by the market" need not be "good for the planet" (or society, or anything else). But it's what the reward systems of the crappy-but-bloody-persistent economic ssytem we've got *generates*.

Which is why it can be useful to actually pay attention to what economics really is and does.


@feld I'll leave you with my favourite quote of Karl Marx:

"Wealth, as Mr Hobbes says, is power."

Except I lied.

That's not Marx, he didn't say it.

Adam Smith. Wealth of Nations. Which is _not_ a perfect book. But there's a lot in it you might want to actually read.


(And you can believe that Marx read Smith.)


@dredmorbius @wion You have not provided me with any new or surprising information other than the Marx/Smith bit. I am well aware of all of these things.

I only brought up petrol because someone else mentioned France and the gas tax.

Let's get back to the energy prices discussion: I worked in IT security for a power utility, and as such was forced to take many training sessions on the entire industry. Bulk power rates are crazy cheap. The cost of electricity to the average citizen is not a big deal; we shouldn't care about raising those rates. It's the rates of the bulk power purchasers we need to raise. They're paying significantly less than the average person per kWH and it needs to stop. We're all basically subsidizing the cost of electricity for the huge companies and factories and datacenters consuming unimaginable amounts of power.

@feld So, yes, bulk power prices are _another_ issue, but let's keep straight what we've been discussing in this thread so far:

1. The power costs of distributing gobs of Jquery copies around the 'Net, relative to total WWII explosive yield (a possibly misleading comparison, but let's skip that quibble).

2. The power consumption and impacts of cryptocurrency mining.

3. The _impacts_ of power generation generally, and fossil fuels specifically.

4. Transport fuels.

5. Wages.

6. Taxes.


@feld It turns out that those are at the very least _somewhat_ independent things, and if you want to address them, it helps to understand how they interrelate, economically and otherwise.

To take a tangent: getting this wrong is like someone asking if the computer is slow because there's too much mail on the hard drive. To a first approximation, and probably a 3rd to 5th, the answer is "no". And in fact the answer is "the question makes no sense".

So I'll turn this back over to you...


@feld What specifically is the problem you're looking at, why do you see it as a problem, and what are you proposing to do about it?

Because so far, there's been no clear statement or agreement on any of this.

(And I've muted the party who kept wanting to argue with me over what they'd wished I'd said rather than what I'd actually said.)


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