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Re: Greens add to Greenhouse gasses

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  • Kevin O'Brien
    ... Well, I just noted that a new technology has come along that replaces much of the use of rare earth elements (it had to do with electric motors). This is
    Message 1 of 29 , Nov 30, 2012
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      On 11/29/2012 6:38 PM, Dan Minette wrote:
      > They used the low price tactic to drive out virtually all
      > other rare earth suppliers a bit over a decade ago, and are now in a
      > position where the startup costs are high for other countries, and any
      > country with pollution regulations would have a hard time competing. So,
      > using this tactic, they could keep a monopoly, once they established it.
      Well, I just noted that a new technology has come along that replaces
      much of the use of rare earth elements (it had to do with electric
      motors). This is one of the reasons you have to be slightly skeptical
      about attempts to use predatory pricing to create monopolies. The very
      act of raising prices creates a strong incentive for substitutes, among
      other things. I just did a Google search on "rare earth substitutes"
      that brought back a number of recent articles about how rare earth
      prices were falling as a result of manufacturers finding substitutes,
      and other articles about how manufacturers are finding those substitutes.

      Now, I cannot say exactly how this will play out since predictions are
      hard, especially when they are about the future. ;) But there is a
      concept in economics called "hysteresis" that says that changes once
      made are sometimes hard to reverse. A great example of this was the
      automobile market in the 1970s. When oil prices rose, consumers went
      looking for fuel-efficient autos. When U.S. manufacturers could not meet
      this demand, they turned to the hitherto ignored Japanese cars. This led
      them to discover a previously unknown fact, that those cars were of
      higher quality than American cars. As a result, even when oil prices
      fell, the market share of Japanese autos did not fall back to its
      previous level. A "permanent" change had occurred in consumers'
      preferences. It is at least conceivable to me that the research into
      alternatives to rare earths will result in a "permanent" fall in demand
      for them.

      Regards,

      --
      Kevin B. O'Brien
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    • Kevin O'Brien
      ... Well, cheap currently. It is just one carbon tax away from being expensive. And to my mind the only question is when that tax comes, not if. Regards, --
      Message 2 of 29 , Nov 30, 2012
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        On 11/30/2012 8:49 AM, Dan Minette wrote:
        > So, they were fired up when the windmills were down due to low
        > wind. Now, with cheap natural gas, the building of windmills has slown down
        > to a virtual halt.
        Well, cheap currently. It is just one carbon tax away from being
        expensive. And to my mind the only question is when that tax comes, not if.

        Regards,

        --
        Kevin B. O'Brien
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      • Wayne Eddy
        On the subject of black swans, what do you guys think about LENR? Is it all smoke & mirrors or is it a game changer? On Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 11:08 PM, ALBERTO
        Message 3 of 29 , Nov 30, 2012
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          On the subject of black swans, what do you guys think about LENR?  Is it all smoke & mirrors or is it a game changer?


          On Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 11:08 PM, ALBERTO VIEIRA FERREIRA MONTEIRO <albmont@...> wrote:
          Dan Minette wrote:
          >
          > Wind just needs one, effective storage.  The lack of it is why
          > wind power cannot be counted on as part of peak demand.
          > It only made sense when natural gas was expensive.
          >
          Here in Brazil, Wind is used as part of the electric grid (there is a
          country-wide electric grid, only some parts of the Rain Forest are
          outside it). It helps save "water" and not consume natural gas when
          the wind blows. So, Wind is _not_ one black swam away, it can be used
          complementary to other sources of energy.

          Alberto Monteiro

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        • Klaus Stock
          ... Of course, certain critical businesses will be exempt from that tax. - Klaus _______________________________________________
          Message 4 of 29 , Nov 30, 2012
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            >> So, they were fired up when the windmills were down due to low
            >> wind. Now, with cheap natural gas, the building of windmills has slown down
            >> to a virtual halt.

            > Well, cheap currently. It is just one carbon tax away from being
            > expensive. And to my mind the only question is when that tax comes, not if.

            Of course, certain critical businesses will be exempt from that tax.

            - Klaus


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          • Dan Minette
            ... yourself. I have actions that, given historical precident, have a much better chance of suceeeding. ... working on power satellites ... I m not sure if you
            Message 5 of 29 , Dec 1, 2012
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              >If you have a better way to get humanity off fossil fuels, don't keep it to
              yourself.

              I have actions that, given historical precident, have a much better chance
              of suceeeding.

              >Make a good case that it's cheaper and I will support that instead of
              working on power satellites
              >and laser propulsion.

              I'm not sure if you will like my case because it's not a quick fix. But,
              we've been trying quick fixes since the oil shock of 1973, almost 40 years
              now, and haven't made any significant progress. So, I'd argue we need a
              plan that will work in the long run as well as remediation in the short run.

              Short run: give nuclear power a level playing field...the same safety
              requirements as any other industry, and allow the testing of new safer,
              cheaper designs in the US and Europe. Practically speaking, it is unlikely
              that the Communist party/the government of China is a good source for
              innovation. Princelings tend to not want to vary from the tried and true
              much. So it is up to Europe and the US to do this. (I've had experience
              both with Chinese tech. goods and as a potential vendor for China and you
              can see the fingers of the Communist party holding back the wheels of
              progress in both cases).

              Short run: improve fuel efficiency standards. Add a tax to gasoline and
              electricity. Have rebates for low income people to balance the tax. If
              they spend it elsewhere, find.

              Short run: build a natural gas infrastructure for truck transportation in
              the US. The decline in US emissions to 1992 levels (even though the
              population increased 23%) is mostly due to the switch to natural gas from
              coal.

              But, the critical area is the developing world. China puts out more CO2
              than the US and EU combined, and the new coal plants on order from China and
              India will add this amount again. So, we need to make nuclear power cheap.
              It may not be enough to be as cheap as coal, and in that case the west could
              switch but India and China would be far less likely to. In the west, the
              small difference in cost would not be a barrier. The difference is larger
              in India and China because coal is very cheap with no pollution control or
              mining regulations.

              Mid term, offer subsidies for synthetic biofuels that do not displace
              cropland. Right now, several companies are in pilot to initial commercial
              appplication. I'd give this field the highest chance of working: say 25%
              chance of being close to competitive with gasoline while using concentrated
              waste CO2, sunlight, bioengineered life forms, and brackish water.

              Then, the goverments should support research in areas that would allow for
              alternative energy in decades. This would be developing our knowledge in a
              lot of different fields so someoone could put the knowledge together to
              develop either a power source or effective power storage.

              They include

              Plasma physics
              Mesoscopic physics
              Synthetic biology
              Material sciences

              And more engineering oriented, but still experimental:

              Development of capacitance
              Development of compact accelerators

              This is not exhaustive, I'd welcome suggestions. It's putting governments
              back in the business of funding fundamental research at, say, 1% of GDP.
              There will be scores of possibilities that all have a 1%-2% chance of
              working. And when one does, venture capital and small companies can be the
              mechanism for picking winners and losers. The government's job is to
              prepare the field.

              Dan M.


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            • Dan Minette
              ... probably even using the wind ... not technology. I beg to differ. The obvious problem is geography. Pump storage is highly used in Switzerland, and they
              Message 6 of 29 , Dec 1, 2012
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                > Of course, it would make sense to integrate water and wind plants,
                probably even using the wind
                >turbines to power the pumps directly. But that's a problem with politics,
                not technology.

                I beg to differ. The obvious problem is geography. Pump storage is highly
                used in Switzerland, and they have moutainous terrain and have hydroelectric
                dams which are perfect for combined generation/pump storage. But, most good
                windfarm locations are offshore or on the plains (e.g. Iowa or the Panhandle
                of TX) where high winds blow. The energy from a wind turbine is
                porportional to the cube of the velocity of the wind. Yes, there is high
                wind on ridge lines, but I've seen windmills there, and there is just one
                line, not row after row. So, pump storage needs to be located in very
                specific geographical locations (wherever there is a quick change in
                elevation from one large area to another....mountaintops aren't good because
                you can't put a big lake there), while the flat plains and the oceans, seas,
                and the Great Lakes are the best place to locate wind turbines. If it were
                easy, the German company that already has 10% of its nameplate capacity in
                wind would be doing water storage already.

                Dan M.


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              • Dan Minette
                ... From: brin-l-bounces@mccmedia.com [mailto:brin-l-bounces@mccmedia.com] On Behalf Of Kevin O Brien Sent: Friday, November 30, 2012 8:13 AM To:
                Message 7 of 29 , Dec 1, 2012
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                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                  Behalf Of Kevin O'Brien
                  Sent: Friday, November 30, 2012 8:13 AM
                  To: brin-l@...
                  Subject: Re: Greens add to Greenhouse gasses

                  On 11/30/2012 8:49 AM, Dan Minette wrote:
                  >> So, they were fired up when the windmills were down due to low wind.
                  >> Now, with cheap natural gas, the building of windmills has slown down
                  >> to a virtual halt.


                  >Well, cheap currently. It is just one carbon tax away from being expensive.
                  And to my mind the only
                  >question is when that tax comes, not if.

                  How is that going to happen. Are you arguing that the US will impose a
                  carbon tax that is so high that we will be paying more in carbon taxes than
                  fuel costs? Given the fact that we've been unable to raise the gas tax in
                  decades, how will we impose a severe carbon tax. A modest carbon tax will
                  benefit natural gas, because it will facilitate the switch from coal to
                  natural gas. Nuclear power might benefit, but I'm guessing that real reform
                  of nuclear regulations will not be popular. Taxes in the US are not
                  popular....even going back to the tax levels of the Clinton era is too much
                  for Obama to propose.

                  Given the fact that Kyoto was rejected by the US Senate 95-0, I can't see
                  carbon taxes at 5x the European level. At the present level of Europe's tax,
                  it would cost an extra 0.6 cents/kwH for natural gas and 1.2 cents per kWh
                  for coal. That's peanuts compared to the extra cost for wind/endergy
                  storage which is by far the cheapest form of energy. And for gasoline, it's
                  an extra 11 cents/gallon, well within the weekly variation in price.

                  And, this is just the US. China will just use coal. But, windmills will
                  not be effective until the total cost, with energy storage, becomes within a
                  2-3 cents/kwH of other sources.

                  Dan M.


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                • Klaus Stock
                  ... Only for an ideal wind turbine. In real life, current designs have to be turned out of the wind if the wind gets strong. They actually have a rather small
                  Message 8 of 29 , Dec 2, 2012
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                    >> Of course, it would make sense to integrate water and wind plants,
                    > probably even using the wind
                    >>turbines to power the pumps directly. But that's a problem with politics,
                    > not technology.

                    > I beg to differ. The obvious problem is geography. Pump storage is highly
                    > used in Switzerland, and they have moutainous terrain and have hydroelectric
                    > dams which are perfect for combined generation/pump storage. But, most good
                    > windfarm locations are offshore or on the plains (e.g. Iowa or the Panhandle
                    > of TX) where high winds blow. The energy from a wind turbine is
                    > porportional to the cube of the velocity of the wind. Yes, there is high

                    Only for an ideal wind turbine. In real life, current designs have to
                    be turned out of the wind if the wind gets strong. They actually have
                    a rather small range of wind speeds in which they can operate; both
                    weak and strong wind is a problem.

                    Vertical wind turbines, like the Savonius design, are less efficient,
                    but can cope with a wider range of wind speed (including weaker wind
                    and turbulent wind). Advocates of vertical wind turbines often cite
                    conspiracy theories as the reason for the limited use of these designs
                    in large scales.

                    > wind on ridge lines, but I've seen windmills there, and there is just one
                    > line, not row after row. So, pump storage needs to be located in very
                    > specific geographical locations (wherever there is a quick change in
                    > elevation from one large area to another....mountaintops aren't good because
                    > you can't put a big lake there), while the flat plains and the oceans, seas,
                    > and the Great Lakes are the best place to locate wind turbines. If it were
                    > easy, the German company that already has 10% of its nameplate capacity in
                    > wind would be doing water storage already.

                    Nope. In Germany, political reasons are the real reasons, not common
                    sense. Electricity from wind turbines was highly subsidized, with the
                    result that it became "commercially efficient" to erect wind parks at
                    location which made absolutely no sense. After this had been found
                    out, the subsidies have been reduced. But still you can make more
                    money by producing electricity than by pumping water.

                    - Klaus


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                  • Keith Henson
                    On Sat, Dec 1, 2012 at 11:00 AM, Dan Minette wrote: (Keith) ... I make a case that going to laser propulsion and power sats would get
                    Message 9 of 29 , Dec 2, 2012
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                      On Sat, Dec 1, 2012 at 11:00 AM, "Dan Minette" <danminette@...> wrote:

                      (Keith)
                      >
                      >>If you have a better way to get humanity off fossil fuels, don't keep it to
                      > yourself.
                      >
                      > I have actions that, given historical precident, have a much better chance
                      > of suceeeding.
                      >
                      >>Make a good case that it's cheaper and I will support that instead of
                      > working on power satellites
                      >>and laser propulsion.
                      >
                      > I'm not sure if you will like my case because it's not a quick fix.

                      I make a case that going to laser propulsion and power sats would get
                      humanity off fossil fuels in 20 years. Do you consider that a quick
                      fix?

                      But,
                      > we've been trying quick fixes since the oil shock of 1973, almost 40 years
                      > now, and haven't made any significant progress. So, I'd argue we need a
                      > plan that will work in the long run as well as remediation in the short run.

                      snip

                      I notice you don't put either a cost per kWh or a capital investment
                      on any of these tired proposals, Nuclear is both expensive and slow
                      (even in China) to install. There are also scaling problems. If you
                      are going to get off fossil fuel, do you really want to build 15,000 1
                      GW reactors?

                      If we are going to make a good choice, we need to cite the numbers. I
                      have analyzed the cost of this new idea to build power satellites with
                      laser propulsion. I get $1600 per kW and 2 cents per kWh based on
                      6.8% discount rate. The cost information for other forms is easy to
                      find.

                      Offer stands, but you are going to have to cite defensible numbers to
                      get me to switch my efforts to your concept of how to solve the
                      problem.

                      Keith

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                    • Kevin O'Brien
                      ... I am assuming that at some point we have enough Sandy s to tip the balance. That will come much later than it should have come, but I think it will come
                      Message 10 of 29 , Dec 2, 2012
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                        On 12/1/2012 6:36 PM, Dan Minette wrote:
                        > How is that going to happen. Are you arguing that the US will impose a
                        > carbon tax that is so high that we will be paying more in carbon taxes than
                        > fuel costs? Given the fact that we've been unable to raise the gas tax in
                        > decades, how will we impose a severe carbon tax. A modest carbon tax will
                        > benefit natural gas, because it will facilitate the switch from coal to
                        > natural gas. Nuclear power might benefit, but I'm guessing that real reform
                        > of nuclear regulations will not be popular. Taxes in the US are not
                        > popular....even going back to the tax levels of the Clinton era is too much
                        > for Obama to propose.
                        I am assuming that at some point we have enough "Sandy's" to tip the
                        balance. That will come much later than it should have come, but I think
                        it will come at some point. IF you don't think that will ever happen,
                        just adjust your forecasts accordingly. BTW, carbon taxes are an
                        economically efficient way of reducing emissions, which means that if
                        you need to reduce emissions this does it with the least negative effect
                        on the economy.

                        Regards,

                        --
                        Kevin B. O'Brien TANSTAAFL
                        zwilnik@... Linux User #333216


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                      • ALBERTO VIEIRA FERREIRA MONTEIRO
                        ... The europeans are crazy. They don t know what to do, they add a lot of uncertainty to the economy with all those subsidies that come and go, taxes that
                        Message 11 of 29 , Dec 3, 2012
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                          Klaus Stock wrote:
                          >
                          > Nope. In Germany, political reasons are the real reasons, not common
                          > sense.
                          >
                          The europeans are crazy. They don't know what to do, they add a lot of
                          uncertainty to the economy with all those subsidies that come and go,
                          taxes that come and go, and regulations that come and go.

                          Alberto Monteiro

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                        • Dan Minette
                          I sent this to a single person instead of the list due to Killer B being changed (probably automatically) from the sender to a cc. I think this happened a
                          Message 12 of 29 , Dec 4, 2012
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                            I sent this to a single person instead of the list due to Killer B being
                            changed (probably automatically) from the sender to a cc. I think this
                            happened a couple of other times. I've gotten replies, but will not post
                            them, because they aren't my emails. But if the sender would, or would give
                            me permission to, that would be great.
                            In reply to Kevin, I wrote:

                            > The Chinese were extremely ham-handed about this. In particular,
                            > their stoppage of rare earth shipments in response to an incident
                            > involving their extrodinary claims to ocean territory (basically any
                            > territory claims of the Chinese over the last 1000 years are
                            > considered valid and enforceable by the the Chinese government)
                            > generated strong reaction. Given the fact that consumers rightfully
                            > believed that the Chinese were untrustworthy suppliers, as well as
                            > expensive ones, it was reasonable for them to sacrifice a little
                            > performance to switch to a more reliable and cheaper supply. The Chinese
                            overplayed their hand, as they have overall the last year.
                            >
                            > They can probably drive Western companies out of the solar cell business.
                            > Their entire ecconomic model, with artifically low value on their
                            > currency, and the disdaining of IP right of other countries, fits
                            > this. They may very well increase prices after becoming a near
                            > monopoly, but the alternatives are oil and gas and coal and wind.
                            > And, for certain remote applications, solar power actually works best.
                            >
                            > So, I'm guessing that it will not be the big win they see. But, they
                            > are caught at a GDP level where Huntington has pointed out that
                            > totalitarian goverments begin to get pushed by the growing middle
                            > class. Their reaction is to clamp down harder....especially with the
                            > new leadership, where all the leaders are both well filtered and the
                            > result of nepotism. It is a dangerous mixture. Putting this together
                            > with their demographic window of opportunity (the 1-child policy has a
                            > big demographic bubble that will be old in 20 years), a surplus of
                            > males, and one has a classic situation where countries become aggressive.
                            >
                            > We will be living in interesting times.
                            >
                            > Dan M.


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                          • Kevin O'Brien
                            ... And if the Chinese try to raise further, it only creates more incentives to look into alternatives. I think this may be one of the reasons why the Club of
                            Message 13 of 29 , Dec 4, 2012
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                              On 12/4/2012 9:02 AM, Dan Minette wrote:
                              > I sent this to a single person instead of the list due to Killer B being
                              > changed (probably automatically) from the sender to a cc. I think this
                              > happened a couple of other times. I've gotten replies, but will not post
                              > them, because they aren't my emails. But if the sender would, or would give
                              > me permission to, that would be great.
                              > In reply to Kevin, I wrote:
                              >
                              >> The Chinese were extremely ham-handed about this. In particular,
                              >> their stoppage of rare earth shipments in response to an incident
                              >> involving their extrodinary claims to ocean territory (basically any
                              >> territory claims of the Chinese over the last 1000 years are
                              >> considered valid and enforceable by the the Chinese government)
                              >> generated strong reaction. Given the fact that consumers rightfully
                              >> believed that the Chinese were untrustworthy suppliers, as well as
                              >> expensive ones, it was reasonable for them to sacrifice a little
                              >> performance to switch to a more reliable and cheaper supply. The Chinese
                              > overplayed their hand, as they have overall the last year.

                              And if the Chinese try to raise further, it only creates more incentives
                              to look into alternatives.

                              I think this may be one of the reasons why the Club of Rome predictions
                              failed (there are clearly numerous reasons). As an economist named
                              Hotelling pointed out early in the 20th century, there are good reasons
                              in economics to expect the prices of non-renewable resources to rise
                              over time at approximately the same rate as the interest rate. (I'm just
                              giving a simplified explanation here, see the Journal article if you
                              really like this sort of thing.) But any time a resource has rising
                              prices it creates incentives to look for substitutes, and the higher the
                              price, the higher the incentive. So a lot of products are no longer made
                              with steel, but with plastics or composites, for instance. The other
                              price obviously is to stimulate the search for new sources of supply.
                              Put those together and you can see why those predictions of disaster
                              have not materialized.

                              By similar reasoning, any attempt to monopolize a resource or product
                              can only succeed if there is some way of preventing and competitor from
                              entering the market. Most commonly this requires government action to
                              create and sustain the monopoly. Since that will not happen in the case
                              of rare earth elements, I doubt there can be a lasting monopoly problem
                              here. In a similar way, recall how the oil prices hikes of the 70s
                              turned into the price collapse of the 1980s as both fuel efficiency and
                              increased exploration responded ot the market price signals.

                              > They can probably drive Western companies out of the solar cell business.
                              > Their entire ecconomic model, with artifically low value on their
                              > currency, and the disdaining of IP right of other countries, fits
                              > this. They may very well increase prices after becoming a near
                              > monopoly, but the alternatives are oil and gas and coal and wind.
                              > And, for certain remote applications, solar power actually works best.
                              Well, they can drive them out, perhaps, but can they keep them out? One
                              of two things seems likely:

                              1. China creates a temporary monopoly, then tries to raise prices to
                              profit from it. See above for how market forces respond.

                              2. China creates a monopoly, then subsidizes solar panel producers
                              permanently to maintain that monopoly. And permanently low prices for
                              solar panels cause terrible devastation to the U.S. economy...Wait, that
                              doesn't quite make sense. I think I rather like low prices for solar
                              panels. And this could create a boom in low-cost, non-polluting energy
                              which only benefits us.

                              > So, I'm guessing that it will not be the big win they see. But, they
                              > are caught at a GDP level where Huntington has pointed out that
                              > totalitarian goverments begin to get pushed by the growing middle
                              > class. Their reaction is to clamp down harder....especially with the
                              > new leadership, where all the leaders are both well filtered and the
                              > result of nepotism. It is a dangerous mixture. Putting this together
                              > with their demographic window of opportunity (the 1-child policy has a
                              > big demographic bubble that will be old in 20 years), a surplus of
                              > males, and one has a classic situation where countries become aggressive.
                              OK, this is where my "economist" hat no longer gives me any particular
                              aid. I will say that indeed it will get interesting, but the factor that
                              is most likely to cause aggression on a large scale is water. That is in
                              short supply, unless we can access abundant cheap energy to desalinate
                              ocean water to make potable water.

                              Regards,

                              --
                              Kevin B. O'Brien
                              zwilnik@...
                              A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw.


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                            • Klaus Stock
                              Hi, ... Well, selling products at prices below below production cost and (aggressive) disdaining of IP right of other countries has happened before. So. China
                              Message 14 of 29 , Dec 4, 2012
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                                Hi,

                                >> Their entire ecconomic model, with artifically low value on their
                                >> currency, and the disdaining of IP right of other countries, fits
                                >> this.

                                Well, selling products at prices below below production cost and
                                (aggressive) disdaining of IP right of other countries has happened
                                before. So. China is imitating the past strategies of the western
                                countries. So what?


                                Some disturbing thoughts remain, though.

                                We in Germany pay high fuel taxes and are told to drive fuel-efficient
                                and clean vehicles. OTOH, Volkswagen still produces 1980s models in
                                China. This way, we take care that not are responsible for pollution
                                and excessive oil consumption, but the Chinese. Hooray?

                                - Klaus


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