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Paradox1's avatar

What's Next for the American Economy?

Asked by Paradox1 (1167 points ) September 30th, 2011

In 2007 the cracks of the mortgage and housing bubble began emerging. I remember those days well and the collapse of NewStar Financial, one of the first in a long line to go down. Next came Bear Stearns after over 100 years in business. The gravity of the bubble (or lack thereof) rapidly began weighing on people and it only kept getting worse with every release of new data until the global markets were roiled and collapsed in late 2008 and continued through the first quarter of 2009.
After March of 2009 began the recovery, and by June or July the recession was over (though we didn’t realize this until later). Our recovery was very weak, however, as it was not lead by housing as is typically the case by recoveries. But it was still a recovery and markets surged.

In August of 2010 rumors grew of a new shadow of recession, the dreaded “double-dip,” but these fears were premature and allayed.

Fast forward to now. It seems that the dim days of late 2008 are returning. I haven’t seen the sentiment on Wall Street this bad since then. Most people are afraid, most financial institutions are saying there’s a good chance of entering into a second recession. It seems like everyone thinks the economy will “go down the toilet,” though I’m not so sure. I feel as though it is usually never as bad as people think.

But assuming the economy does go into another recession, or we’re in one now. What do you think will happen? Will it be slow and dragged out, or quick, steep, and fast? Is it really as bad as people think it will be? Were the riots in Britain earlier this year only but a taste of the violence to come?

I don’t provide this information and question to frighten any, but rather to explore various potential outcomes in the years ahead. With enough responses, one of them will be right, and all we can do is to stay positive and do our best to prepare. Surely there is a chance for the return of the American dream, and our hope will not be cut off.

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43 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think the recession will continue. I think some markets will recover. I think some people will never recover. I think it’s worse than what people think.

Cruiser's avatar

I would argue that we have not ever yet recovered from the 2008 drop. Numbers are the same and in many cases worse. We will continue to scrape and bump along and the money will sit on the sidelines until interest rates get above 3%.

28lorelei's avatar

It depends on what happens in the rest of the world and how the government will handle the situation. If it is handled well, the recession will not be as serious as if it is not handled well. One big problem is the economy of many southern European countries, e.g. Spain and Greece

Coloma's avatar

It’s worse than ever IMO. I was still smug back in 08, thoguht I was above it all. Heh…well, suffice it to say I’ve been knocked off my Pollyanna pedistal. lol
Coloma is offering self contained Yurts for communal living on her property. But now and invest your specialties in communal living, gardening and goose herding. Hurry, the best parcels are going fast! :-D

tedd's avatar

The current economic fears are being driven by the turmoil in Europe.

Though the relative stagnancy in the rest of the world isn’t helping.

Qingu's avatar

I think America is basically powerless in the current threat of double-dip. It all hinges on Europe. The worst case scenario there, the breakup of the euro, would probably send the whole world back into a recession and there wouldn’t be anything we could do to stop it.

Considering US treasury rates are beyond “low” we could borrow money for stimulus and actually help create jobs here. But the Republicans won’t let that happen because it’s bad to go further into debt when there’s a democratic president.

Qingu's avatar

Also: every modern recovery from a recession has been very slow and often near jobless. Financial crisis recessions, historically and globally, are particularly bad in this regard. And consumers in the West have built up huge amount of debt that they are paying off instead of spending (consumer spending is usually what spurs us out of recession as it’s 70% of economic activity).

So, it’s bad. But it could have been a lot worse (see: the great depression)

flutherother's avatar

The American dream was based on an empty continent to develop and the boundless opportunities that created for several generations of Americans. The dream came true for many people but the era of free land and limitless resources is now over. Economies can’t continue to expand forever and America is going to have to come to terms with that. A faltering economy can tip millions of people into extreme poverty and America must ensure this doesn’t happen. America needs a new dream.

Paradox1's avatar

Oh, how this topic makes me sad. so sad As a follow up question what can be done now and in the coming months to help? Surely there has to be something.

Jaxk's avatar

A good look at the past two years may give some insight into what’s going on. When the bottom fell out the price of gas hit $4. Gas didn’t create the financial meltdown but it triggered the event. When it looked like we may see a recovery, gas was in the $2 range. Now it has shot back up to close to $4 and we’re looking at a double dip. The price of gas can not be ignored in this scenario.

The price of gas consumes the expendable income from the average American. To make all this worse we are seeing a rise in almost everything. Food is more expensive, cars are more expensive. Regulation to increase mileage will add $500 to the price of a car next year and $1,000 in 2013. EPA regulations are set to double the cost of electricity. Dodd-Frank is having the effect of raising bank fees on everyone. The latest $5 charge for debit cards in only one example. All these things combine to eliminate disposable income. Thus diminishing demand and subsequently costing jobs. A vicious cycle.

All is not lost however. The Canadian Pipeline to Texas has the potential to add thousands of jobs and reduce the cost of gas. Apparently 2½ years of study is not enough but with a little luck we could get started by next year. Boeing is planning to open a new plant in South Carolina, expanding production and creating hundreds if not thousands of new jobs. If the government gets out of the way. Exxon has discovered the largest pool of oil ever in the Gulf, a billion barrels. Now if the government will let them extract that oil it will add jobs and keep money home instead of sending it overseas. If only regulators will let them.

These are only a few of the things (off the top of my head) that have tremendous potential to ease this recession. If we want the economy to grow, if we want jobs, we need to get government out of the way. Our private industry knows how to create jobs. Government should be helping in this instead of hindering the process.

Qingu's avatar

“Gas didn’t create the financial meltdown but it triggered the event.”

What on earth are you talking about? The price of gas did absolutely nothing to trigger the financial meltdown.

It is amazing that you have the audacity to simply parrot right wing talking points almost randomly to explain complex crises with documented causes.

Seek's avatar

@Coloma About a year ago, my husband and I were seriously considering investing in a yurt. Turns out they’re not technically “legal” in Florida, except as hunting lodges. Kinda sucks.

Communal living FTW.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

It is unfortunate that you are incapable of connecting the dots. We use about 140 Billion gallons of gas/yr. The rise in price from $2 to $4 cost the country about $280 billion. That’s not counting diesel, jet fuel or any of the industrial uses of oil (likely another $90 billion) such as asphalt and plastics.

Qingu's avatar

What on earth does that have to do with the financial crisis Jaxk?

Seek's avatar

If we have a greater supply of gas, that’s exactly what we’ll have – a greater supply of gas. That is NOT going to change the price of gas, because we don’t have a current shortage of gas. In fact, if I remember correctly, we actually have a larger surplus of stored oil than ever before in history. Adding to the surplus will do nothing to change the supply/demand battle.

What will is reducing consumer DEMAND for petroleum products. I.e., purchasing vehicles that use little (or no) gas and oil, and getting rid of your SUVs. Reducing plastic consumption whenever possible can help, too. We REALLY need to support green energy initiatives, as well. There’s no good reason that, for example, the coastal cities of Florida can’t (at least partially) be run by sun and wind power. We have absolutely NO shortage of sun and wind on the beaches.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

I don’t like to consider it.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

The end of 2005 the housing bubble began to deflate. The housing market was saturated and everyone that could buy a house had one (some had 2 or 3).. By 2007 the market had begun to stabilize and some were predicting we had reached the bottom and a recovery was in sight. Then in 2008 gas prices rose dramatically to over $4. The middle and lower income folks simply couldn’t afford the extra several hundred dollars a month and something had to give. Mortgage foreclosures more than doubled in 2008 as families had to decide between gas, food and rent. To add to the problem the sub prime loans peaked in 2005 and the 3 year ARMs were beginning to adjust. The combination of gas and increasing mortgage payments was simply too much.

By the middle of 2008 the escalating foreclosure rate exposed our weak financial system and the system collapsed. The price of gas also collapsed in 2009 dropping back to less than $2. By 2010 Biden was predicting ‘The Summer of Recovery’. unfortunately gas skyrocketed again to $4. The recovery fizzled and the predictions of a double dip escalated along with the gas prices. It seems foolish to ignore the connection between these events.

Jaxk's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

There are two components to any commodity pricing, Supply and Demand. When the price of oil begins to decline OPEC reduces production to keep them high. Commodities traders can influence the price for a short time but when those futures contracts come due, they have to sell. If the supply is greater the prices come down. The only way to break this cycle is to eliminate the influence of OPEC. As long as they can adjust production to fix the price, we’ll never gain control. And unfortunately ‘Green Energy’ is not ready for prime time.

Seek's avatar

90% of Vancouver, B.C. is powered by hydroelectricity.

Reykjavik, Iceland is powered entirely by green energy, mainly geothermal and hydroelectric. All their public transportation is hydrogen-operated.

How is this “not ready?”

Jaxk's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

We already have as many dams as we can afford. There are no more rivers to dam. I would support Hydro-electric if there was a place to get it that we haven’t already tapped.

Paradox1's avatar

@Jaxk I really don’t think you understood what the problem was in the first place… over-leveraged debt in the banking sector and governments, and that is still the problem today (see Bear Stearns, NewStar Financial, Lehman Brothers, Greece, Spain, Portugal).

The price of energy was never a trigger, only noise within the greater problem.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, I still don’t see how high commodity prices like gas “triggered” the crisis. I think you’ve got the cart before the horse.

Seek's avatar

@Jaxk

Even if I allow that we “have no more rivers to dam” (which I don’t believe for a second, mostly because if I throw a rock from my front door, I can hit a river that doesn’t feed into the grid), how about geothermal energy? solar? wind? hell, even nuclear. Anything that isn’t coal or oil would make me happy as a clam.

They’re starting to use solar in my county. Did you know you have to pay extra to use it, because the oil companies have lobbied so hard against the changeover? How dare we try to reduce demand for oil!

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, I agree that green energy is not ready for prime time.

Neither are tar sand or oil shale. Those resources will take a decade at least to exploit, and even at full capacity will only account for a fraction of our energy demands. And then later, they’ll run out. Plus, they pollute.

So. Why bother? Shouldn’t we invest in making green energy ready for prime time instead? So we don’t have to buy all of our solar panels from China?

Ron_C's avatar

I expect the next step will be the permanent of a corporate aristocracy and low class everybody else. College students will be kept as bonded servants because of their student loan burden. The factory jobs that are left will go to the lowest bidder, including children, and the Tea Party health plan goes into effect; don’t get sick, if you get sick, die quickly.

I believe that we will eventually have a civil war between the rich and the poor, many will die and the nation will be a large version of Argentina in the 70’s. China will come into it’s own and some right wing idiot will push the nuclear button. I will most likely be dead by then anyway but I morn for my children and grandchildren.

Paradox1's avatar

@Ron_C A civil war where many will die??? Wow. Interesting.

Seek's avatar

It just makes me feel better to know that the farmers with scythes and pitchforks historically win the culture war, eventually.

Jaxk's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr

I have no problem with an all of the above solution. Except wind which I have a bean up butt about. Wind simply consumes too much real estate and is generated too far from where it is consumed. The government here has been subsidizing solar for decades. There are federal subsidies and state subsidies, hell they even subsidize the manufacturers. It’s still not competitive. I have no problem with Geothermal even though way back in the deepest part of my brain, I wonder how much heat we can steal from the earths core without causing irreversible damage. Probably not an issue, I just wonder. Nuclear, I have no problem but there are forces that rail against it. Hard to get agreement on that one.

I know the argument is that government should be doing the research. Typically that doesn’t work out so well. They subsidize what they like and tax the hell out of the alternative. Basically just make so expensive the green technology finally becomes competitive. Not my idea of success.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

Oil shale is still in the development stage but the tar sands have been proven in Canada. The oil shale is quite similar except a bit richer. I’m not sure how you get to the idea that we would run out anytime soon since the estimates I’ve seen show enough oil to last us 400 years. I would think we can come up with an alternative before then. Probably even one that works.

We have two distinct problems here. transportation (primarily oil) and electricity (primarily coal). Frankly I’d love solar panels that were competitive. They just aren’t. I’ve looked at these for years and no matter how I slice it, even with the government rebates, it doesn’t pan out. And as far as transportation, I don’t see electric cars as anything but a novelty, with few alternatives to gasoline. Of course that’s my opinion. We’ll see if the electric car skyrockets in popularity.

Ron_C's avatar

@Paradox1 “A civil war where many will die??? Wow. Interesting” I’m not saying that is certain but war is a typical resoponse when the majority of the country is oppressed buy it’s rulers. We just had the Arab spring where the population threw out their oppressors. It could happen here. The Wall street demos may be the start of a real revolution. When college educated youth find there are no prospects for a productive future and they have nothing, they have nothing to loose.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, what estimates have you seen re: 400 years?

I’ve seen various estimates for the tech development time needed to efficiently mine and transport sand/shale ff… and they are on the order of decades. How long do you think it will take to improve solar and wind and our grid such that they became “competitive”? More or less than the order of decades?

Here is the way I see it:

1. We have a somewhat proven resource (tar sands/oil shale) nearby, but it will take decades to efficiently get and transport. And it pollutes.

2. We have a bestiary of nascent green tech—solar panels, wind turbines, and li-ion batteries—that is not competitive. But if we invest, it could well become competitive in decades (China already makes competitive solar panels!) And improving li-ion battery tech is already powerfully spurred on by market forces (smartphones and small computers).

Maybe we should invest in both #1 and #2. But if I had to choose, I think the choice is obvious—don’t you?

As far as electric cars, I don’t think anyone is envisioning a mostly-electric fleet in the near-term. But in the mid-term I would be surprised if most cars don’t have at least some hybrid tech. It’s a simple matter of fuel efficiency. Regenerative braking more or less doubles your efficiency. Once hybrids start using li-ion batteries, that will in turn spur competition for more efficient li-ion batteries (along with the computing industry).

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

I think we’re mixing apples and oranges here. Wind and Solar will not replace gasoline (or oil). You could built a windmill on every square inch of the country and you’d only reduce our oil usage by 1%.

If you want to push electric conversion to something like Natural Gas from Coal, I can see a good argument there. I’m still against wind but I like solar and even the Chinese Solar Panels aren’t competitive against our current electrical costs. But I like the idea that it is generated locally (on your roof, etc.). The problem with Government intervention, in picking winners and losers, is that they typically don’t improve the product but rather escalate the cost. In other words, if you make Coal expensive enough, Wind and Solar begin to look cheap in comparison. But what has actually happened is that we made everything more expensive.

Oil is another matter altogether. Oil is used for transportation (about 70%) and industry (plastics, asphalt, etc., about 30%). I don’t see an alternative for industrial purposes on the horizon, so we’re looking at 30% of our usage remaining no matter what we with current technology. And if you like Obama’s road projects, they will consume even more oil. That leaves transportation. Electric cars are fun to think about but they take too long to recharge and aren’t useful for long distances. Hybrids are gaining popularity but only slightly. Natural gas could work but we’d need to convert the existing distribution network to make it happen. Incredibly costly. There are several opportunities in the mill, whether it be algae or some other source of ethanol. It’s just not clear which will win out but the distribution network will be a consideration. Why would we think the government has better insight into what will work than industry. And we must keep in mind that any change in vehicles whether hybrids, pure electric or some other fuel, will take more than a decade to have any major impact. And that’s after we’ve made the conversion. With 250 million cars in the US, it takes a long time to convert.

As for the 400 years, here is one source that estimates 800 billion barrels. Many others estimate over a trillion. And we aren’t even counting the reserves in ANWR, or off shore. I think the rumors of ‘no more oil’ are somewhat overstated. And if we continue to say it will take a decade, it would have already happened if we had started a decade ago.

I have no problem with alternatives. I do have a problem with trying to convert with no viable alternative.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk,

I’m not seeing the “wind at 100% capacity will only decrease oil usage by 1 percent” figure in your source. Please quote.

I do see that wind farms in 2009 have brought “the share of total generation to 1.9 percent.” In Denmark wind accounts for 21% of electricity; and Denmark is tiny.

You are, as usual, leaving out benefits. Government intervention can increase the cost of certain industries, through taxes. Government intervention can also decrease the cost of certain industries, through aggressive R&D too broad/risky for private enterprise to take on.

You are correct to point out changes in infrastructure necessary to support electric cars and renewable energy grid. That sounds to me like an excellent opportunity for infrastructure spending and increased employment… you know, like when we originally built the highway system. You are also ignoring my point about competitiveness (both in auto and computing sectors) driving major increases in battery technology. Every week I read new articles in my science mags about advances in li-ion capacity and charging speed. Look at the advances in battery tech in just ten years and tell me you don’t see it becoming competitive within decades.

“Why would we think the government has better insight into what will work than industry.”

The fact that you are even asking this means you have some major ideological blinkers on. Does the oil industry employ scientists who study alternative energy infrastructure or the effects of pollution, or other “big picture” ideas? Industry R&D is overwhelmingly concerned about quarterly profits and not externalities or society-wide implications of tech advances.

Let me ask you some direct questions, assuming the estimates of “800 billion barrels” are true:

1. How much of this is accessible with current technology?
2. How much time will it take to identify, drill, and begin extracting and processing the oil in significant amounts?
3. How much more expensive is processing oil shale compared to crude?
4. What harm will this cause to the environment?

My understanding: (1) a small fraction, (2) decades, (3) about twice as expensive, and (4) potentially huge harm locally, major harm from global warming from continuing burning FF status quo.

So, assuming we can spend X amount either (1) continue subsidizing the oil industry and encuoraging them to develop tech for oil shale exploration or (2) subsidize and invest in R&D for green tech—wind and solar, better batteries, better grid, better recharging infrastructure. I don’t see much downside to investing in #2 instead of subsidizing #1.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

There is a Pie Chart about a third of the way down the article that shows the source of our electrical power. Petroleum products account for 1%. Also here is a chart that shows our energy consumption. Oil is used 71% for transportation, 23% for industrial, 5% for home and commercial (primarily heating oil), and 1% for electricity. I had a better chart for oil usage but can’t find it. I think these sources should suffice however.

Your view of the oil industry is quite skewed if you think they are only concerned with quarterly earnings. Hell it can take 10 years just to get past the environmentalists to drill a new well. Hardly a quarterly earnings decision. Shell has spent $billions on developing thier ‘In-Situ’ process for recovering oil shale and has spent more than a decade doing it. Hardly a quarterly earnings decision. And since the ‘externalities’ you refer to will determine thier future, they are very concerned.

1. The estimates are 50% recoverable with the surface mining techniques, In-Situ goes much higher.

2. The identification is pretty much done. Proof of concept is pretty much done. Commercial extraction is likely a decade away (million barrels per day or more).

3. Surface retort is only viable around $70/barrel. In-Situ production however, is estimated to be viable at ~$25/barrel. It is unlikely we will see oil at less than $25 in the foreseeable future. It certainly looks viable.

4. Much work has been done to insure environmental safety. The In-Situ method leaves the surface in tact while extracting the oil through conventional drilling. The Shell In-Situ method creates an ice wall to protect surround areas while heating the ground for for conventional extraction.

There is an article from 2005 that talks about the oil shale potential. I find it interesting that one of the major stumbling blocks for this project is the building of entire communities to house all the workers. Now there’s a problem for Obama to solve.

Your assumptions don’t make a lot of sense to me. We don’t need to spend X, we only need to lease the ground. It costs us nothing. Research into alternative energy sources is not an ‘either or’ situation. We can do both. There is no reason abandon any other viable or even potential source of energy. And by the way, batteries are getting better with or without government involvement.

As for oil subsidies, what subsidies? There are a few tax breaks that all companies in all industries get but this idea that we are subsidizing oil companies is rhetoric with no basis in fact. Read about it here. Now alternative energy has some real subsidies. That’s where the money gets spent.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, you’re going to walk me through your math because it still doesn’t add up.

I’ll respond to the rest of your post later.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

I guess I’m noty sure what doesn’t add up for you. 71%+23%+5%+1%=100%. It’s not tricky, what am I missing?

Qingu's avatar

Your claim: “You could built a windmill on every square inch of the country and you’d only reduce our oil usage by 1%.”

I don’t see how this is remotely implied by the fact that only 1% of oil is used to generate electricity.

Unfortunately I can’t read your article about oil shale potential at work. What exactly does the in-situ method do? Does it address the concerns raised in this popular mechanics article, for example? (Namely that it would require vast amounts of both water and energy to process the shale into a usable form)?

Just to be clear: I’m not denying that it’s technologically possible to extract the energy from oil shale. I’m just skeptical it can be done soon, cost-effectively, and without hugely damaging the environment. On the flip side, you are skeptical that green tech can displace a fossil fuel economy, for a variety of good reasons. And you’re correct to point out that this isn’t necessarily an either-or situation; I certainly am not advocating even a medium-term replacement of FF with green energy. Our economy will continue to be based on oil for decades.

So I don’t think we necessarily greatly disagree on the details (we can haggle over how skeptical we should be of each other’s favored tech), our basic disagreement is ideology. The problem with opening up oil shale reserves, for me, is that it is hugely risky to the environment and will do nothing except perpetuate a status quo that we know is greatly harming the environment. (You may not believe it is, but 98% of climate scientists do… to say nothing of the environmental risk of the mining process itself). Climate change is a huge problem, and it’s not a problem the Invisible Hand is equipped to fix. I am not a market anarchist. I generally support free markets, but I also think government has the responsibility to shift markets away from negative externalities. You are something of a market anarchist. And correct me if I’m wrong, but you don’t believe global warming is a threat. So, we evaluate the risks and process of ameliorating those risks very differently.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

I’m not sure what the problem is. If we only use 1% of our oil to generate electricity the most we can save by generating electricity by other means is 1%. I honestly don’t know where we’re missing each other.

As for the oil shale, let me make a couple of points. The kerogens discussed in your Popular Mechanics article are the same as they get from the oils sands. Refining the kerogens is the same and Canada has proven they can be quite effective. Oil sands account for 47% of the oil produced in Canada and Canada is our largest supplier of oil. In other words, we already know how to refine it. The oil sands projects in Canada are beginning to turn to In-Situ methods to capture the Bitumen (kerogens).

Current oil sands recovery is done through surface mining which has major drawbacks. The sands are scraped off the surface and washed to extract the Bitumen. The sands must then be crushed and replaced. In-Situ is quite different. First they create a Freeze wall around the area to be mined. Then the ground is heated inside the freeze wall which melts the bitumen. The bitumen is the pumped out with normal drilling techniques. This leaves the surface in tact, nothing is moved or replaced, making the whole process much cheaper and reducing environmental damage. In-situ processing also reduces the water requirement to about 1/10th of that needed for surface mining. I’m no fan of surface mining but the In-Situ process looks very appealing. Here they discuss the oil sands process with a brief mention of In-Situ.

Overall, I have no problem with replacing our energy requirements with something other than oil. We don’t currently have a viable alternative and if we rush to judgement on what we should replace it with, we are almost certainly going to get it wrong. There are just too many possibilities. Nuclear fission or fusion., Ethanol from algae or some other plant (corn is not viable). Some major advancement in solar coupled with battery that actually makes sense. If we force a conversion now, we will have to do it again in a few years or maybe decades, but it will be enormously expensive. A comprehensive energy policy now, will buy us enough time to get it right.

You are right in that I don’t believe the hype about Global Warming. And your 98% of scientists is way off base. The issue has been so politicized that you can’t believe anyone. I’ve argued this point many times but this is not the thread to do so. Suffice it to say, we emerged from the Little Ice Age about 150 years ago, and it’s been getting warmer. Of course it is, thank god, otherwise we’d still be in the Little Ice Age.

Qingu's avatar

Ah, you’re right. I misunderstood what you were saying (Electricity production doesn’t displace transportation fuel). Though of course, that’s a large part of converting “infrastructure” to green tech. And other FF’s used in electricity production are also considered problematic.

Like I said, I’m not opposed to more drilling if it’s done responsibly. I don’t oppose the pipeline from Canada (as long as it’s produced responsibly). I don’t want to minimize external costs (pollution, carbon dioxide production). I believe those are actually costs that people end up paying for, even if they don’t pay in the price of gasoline. I also don’t see where you’ve addressed the problems of water shortages in that area.

To me, a “comprehensive energy policy” involves major R&D investment in, you know, comprehensive alternatives to the status quo. You also talk about “forcing a conversion” now. Nobody is forcing a conversion (except maybe crazy environmentalist groups). All I am suggesting is that we nudge the market away from FF tech and invest in green tech. A nudge is not a “conversion,” I’m not even advocating beginning the nudge until the economy improves, and the process would necessarily take many decades at least. Of course, if you don’t believe in global warming, I can see why you don’t think we should start trying to solve this problem to begin with.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

By forcing I mean subsidizing one manufacturer over another. Picking winners. We are doing that currently. I’m not sure we need to invest much in R&D from the government but I’d rather see us spend money on that than research to see how the length of your penis affects you love life.

We use about 5 million barrels/day of oil. We import about ¾ of that. What ever we do it will take several decades just to get off gasoline and and there’s nothing on the drawing board to help with air travel, trucking, or industrial uses. Best case we need about half of what we are using today. It makes sense to supply that ourselves rather than continuing to import. hell it would be great if it were one of our exports. Maybe we fix the balance of trade.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Even greater tax burden to finance Obamacare.

28lorelei's avatar

Our problem is that the country is not very functional right now. Obama is trying to subsidize healthcare, decrease the tax burden on the poor and impose more taxes on the rich, but the republicans are opposed to most of what he does so it’s really quite difficult for him to get anything done.

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