Do They Really Hate Regulation?

over-regulation We know, of course, that one of the many overclass insistences promoted and protected by both wings of the reigning Duopoly is the claim that public rules for doing business are “burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”

The premise of this claim, of course, is that only unleashed capitalists could ever possibly create full employment, because “vibrant entrepreneurialism is the key to our continued global leadership and the success of our people.” This, despite the screamingly obvious fact that the one and only instance of full employment in the modern United States occurred when the government suspended the unhindered operation of corporate capitalism, i.e. during the publicly administered economy of the Second World War.

If you know somebody who says regulations have prevented any aspiring capitalist from proceeding with an investment, ask that person for the details. There won’t be any, because, contrary to prevailing dogma, existing regulations simply do not stop anybody from investing in anything that is even remotely decent and beneficial to anybody but the aspiring overlords.

Meanwhile, adherents of the over-regulation shibboleth might profit by reading this little article from Bloomberg Business Week. There, author Ken Wells reports:

Over the past five years the price of photovoltaic panels has plummeted 75 percent, due largely to a glut of Chinese-made panels. The fall in prices rendered technically advanced photovoltaic panels, like those produced by Solyndra and other U.S. companies, too expensive to compete. But cheap panels have been a godsend for consumers.

Nationally, the average cost of residential installations—including hardware, permits, and labor—has plummeted from $9 a watt in 2006 to $5.46. Averaging in commercial industrial installations, the national installed price plummets to $3.45 a watt, says the Solar Energy Industries Association, a Washington-based trade group.

The result is a burgeoning rooftop revolution. The SEIA says almost 52,000 residential rooftop systems were installed in the U.S. last year, up 30 percent from a year earlier. Total rooftop installations, including on commercial buildings, grew 109 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to SEIA data. Total photovoltaic installations are projected to grow an additional 71 percent this year from 2011 levels.

But this boom is puny compared to what it ought to be:

Australia projects that 10 percent of its 8 million houses will have rooftop systems within the next 12 months—most of that growth coming in the past three years. European rooftop installations continue to outpace those in the U.S., even as some countries begin to pare subsidies that have helped spur a continental rooftop boom. Including residential, commercial, and industrial-scale projects, the world had installed about 67 gigawatts of photovoltaic power at the end of last year—up from just 1.5 gigawatts in 2000.

Despite [the] breakthroughs, the U.S. economy is harnessing only a fraction of solar’s potential benefits. Based on U.S. Census Bureau data, about 100 million U.S. residential units could physically hold rooftop systems one day, generating by one estimate 3.75 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity a year. In 2011, total U.S. electrical generation from all sources was about 4 trillion kilowatt hours—42 percent of that from coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

So, why does the United States — where a mere 52,000 installations constitutes a boom — lag so far behind? Turns out it’s the capitalists, who, in this case, fairly love their snarled and snarling regulations:

The trouble is, many of the big, investor-owned utilities that provide about 85 percent of America’s electricity see solar as both a technical challenge and a long-term threat to their 100-year-old profit models. And the lack of a national energy policy means regulation of solar is up to states, public service commissions, and a wealth of local governments and bureaucracies—many of whom have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

The hidden costs of obtaining permits and regulators’ approval to install rooftop panels is a big reason the U.S. lags behind Germany, which leads the world in rooftop installations, with more than 1 million. The price of installed rooftop solar in Germany has fallen to $2.24 per watt. In fact, on a sunny day in May, rooftop provided all of Germany’s power needs for two hours. “This is a country on latitude with Maine,” says Dennis Wilson, president of the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association, a solar-installer trade group. “Germany is showing us what’s possible—if we can just get our act together.”

That’s easier said than done. Unlike the U.S., Germany has a national solar policy, a quick, inexpensive permitting process, and a national mandate that utilities sign up rooftop installations under what’s known as a feed-in tariff—essentially a long-term contract whereby the utilities agree not just to allow the solar on their grids but also to buy the excess power from consumers.

By contrast, the U.S. has more than 18,000 jurisdictions at the state and local level that have a say in how rooftop solar is rolled out, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. What’s more, electricity is supplied by investor-owned utilities, mostly state-regulated monopolies, which supply power from centralized hubs to captured consumers. Profit is in part tied to growth based on an ever-expanding demand as populations increase.

Rooftop solar poses a threat to that model by turning consumers into producers, thereby sapping utility revenue streams. It also diminishes the need to build expensive new plants and transmission lines.

Howler of the Week

At right is Wendy Clark, “senior VP-integrated marketing communications and capabilities” at the Coca-Cola corporation. Ms. Clark has weighed in on behalf of her employer in the controversy over Microsoft’s plan to respect overwhelmingly clear public preferences and make “do not track” the default setting in its next version of Internet Explorer. Clark, according to Advertising Age,

said brands, including Microsoft, shouldn’t be assuming choices for consumers. “All we want is an opportunity for consumers to make their own choice rather than have the choice made for them.”

Friends, it doesn’t get more Orwellian than that.

Yunus the Loon

In 1983, I founded Grameen Bank to provide small loans that people, especially poor women, could use to bring themselves out of poverty. At that time, I never imagined that one day microcredit would give rise to its own breed of loan sharks.

So said Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus in yesterday’s edition of The New York Times.

Like Major Strasser, he is shocked to discover that this is exactly what has happened.  Capitalism, it seems, is not charity, despite the dishonest (or negligently naive) assurances of deluded creeps like Yunus and the Nobel clown committee.

delusion

Small Business History

gumby Here is a table listing the U.S. unemployment rate for three different years:

194014.6%
19424.7%
19441.2%

___

Here, meanwhile, is today’s “analysis” from William C. Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business, as quoted in a New York Times story explaining why “at least through the rest of President [Zer]Obama’s four-year term” it is entirely unreasonable to expect current unemployment levels to drop much:

“You can’t recover quickly from a disaster like we’ve been through.”

Yes, clearly impossible.

ROFLMFAO.

Kinect: Trojan Horse for Marketing

xbox spy The Wall Street Journal has revealed that Microsoft’s new Kinect video game extender is a means for increasing the spying capacities of corporate marketers:

Dennis Durkin, who serves as chief operating officer and chief financial officer for Microsoft’s Xbox video game business, told investors Thursday that Kinect – which allows users to play video games without so much as a joystick – presents business opportunities for targeted game marketing and advertising.

Kinect is a camera peripheral that plugs into the Xbox 360 console and allows players to control games with only body movements. The system uses facial recognition technology to sign in players and match them with their avatars and profiles.

But the technology can also be put to use beyond those purposes, Durkin said in a presentation at an investors conference sponsored by BMO Capital Markets.
“We can cater which content we present to you based on who you are,” Durkin said. “How many people are in the room when an ad is shown? How many people are in the room when a game is being played? When you add this sort of device to a living room, there’s a bunch of business opportunities that come with that.”

Such a system also could raise questions about privacy. In the past few months, targeted online advertising has been facing increasing scrutiny, and the use of cameras and facial recognition would push such technology into a new realm.

And dig this attempt at spin Microsoft sent to the WSJ after it broke this important story:

UPDATE: Microsoft emailed the following statement about its current policies regarding privacy and Xbox: “Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE do not use any information captured by Kinect for advertising targeting purposes. Microsoft has a strong track record of implementing some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry. We place great importance on the privacy of our customers’ information and the safety of their experiences.”

Does Microsoft say it is not and will never be selling such invaluable, long-dreamed-of marketing data to any parties? No. In fact, it doesn’t even say Microsoft isn’t now collecting and using them. It merely says “Xbox 360” (whatever that is beyond a name for a machine) and “Xbox Live” “do not.”

The rest, of course, is the usual laughfest of jive-talk and improper comparison: “some of the best privacy protection measures in the industry.” ROFLMFAO.