Author Archives: martinknox

LIFESTYLE RECOVERY RESET AFTER PANDEMIC

 People encountering the 2020-21 pandemic restrictions may have ‘entered a time warp’, with distortion of familiar values, especially money and time. Finding a way back through unfamiliar financial terrain could be important.

Covid has created uncertainty and anxiety for many people. They have abandoned, slowed or deferred usual activities. There has been a timeout, allowing relaxation from stressful routines but restrictions may have brought complacency and slack inactivity. With insufficient stimuli, time may have dragged.

Without the usual referent of work days and social meetings, personal time may have become disoriented. Personal goals, such as exercising, dieting, studying, writing, may have been abandoned. Social activities may have been stopped. Some people may have enjoyed their freedom but others may have become relatively inactive.

Deadlines that structured activity, such as grocery shopping, may be cast in a new mould. Spending habits may have been limited by the money supply and when that changes, activities such as clothes shopping, may stop. Many people have adopted emptier more relaxed time schedules. 

Reduced consumption may cause money to accumulate and new activities become possible, such as shopping online, investment in home appliances, furniture, autos or moving house. Acquisitions can seem more momentous during pandemic restriction, because although money is cheaply available, there can be fewer than usual investment opportunities and at higher prices. Time horizons are pushed back by restriction delays and low interest rates may stimulate big item spending. Costs of delaying are tolerable and borrowing over longer periods accepted.

Recovery of participation in high risk activities, such as travel and audience events, may be tentative, with empirical results revealing any remaining hazard. To recover, individuals may set goals to revert to previous activities, or they may want to continue elements of their restricted lifestyle. Resetting of goals with new time and money constraints could bring a more purposeful lifestyle.

Sufficient personal time is available for careful planning. 

Conscious resetting of living parameters affected by pandemic restrictions could enable a brave new start, with goals for relationships, employment, residence, motoring, holidays, health, exercise, diet and education. These could provide structure for taking up the reins of a life that may have been partially surrendered in a previous treadmill-like existence. Pandemic restrictions may have brought new experiences that are wanted to continue. There could be a new awareness of the uncertainty of living, a need for patience and a new sense of owning personal time.

My writing about personal time is at https://martinknox.com 

FREEDOM FROM POSSESSIONS?

‘Freedom is nothing left to lose’ (Song: Bobby Mcghee).

Conversely, can acquisition of a product bring true freedom?

True freedom is much sought after. Giving away one’s possessions may be undertaken to achieve freedom. Is going without honourable, to people other than stoics? Some religions offer poverty as a virtue bringing salvation.

Can giving and impoverishment be a hangover cure for a binge of hedonism?

A person can give and take, at different times, without contradiction. 

Reciprocation is expected. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48)

Why is taking balanced by giving? It makes sense in economics but maybe not in ethics.

What if the person gives all they have and it is not reciprocated? Would their condition be pitiable or enviable?

Minimalism removes the distraction of excess possessions so you can focus more on those things that matter most.Adam Smith described a state of “perfect liberty”— which became known as laissez-faire capitalism, freedom to make money — as most socially desirable. Or is minimalism the selfish squandering of opportunity?

Giving can mean transfer of more than you have, by sacrifice. Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect. According to Noam Chomsky: The more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have. An individual’s first responsibility is to himself and his family, according to Jordan Peterson and Ayn Rand.

Should a person try to balance their giving and taking, so as to stay in credit?

Philanthrocapitalists like Gates, Zuckerberg, Musk and Bevos have achieved “spectacular fortunes” in the marketplace and may feel compelled to make a bigger impact, outside the marketplace, by giving. Carnegie gifted what would amount to billions of dollars today by taking a “modest salary” and donating the rest during his life and in his death. He believed that it was not only a moral imperative, but a social responsibility of the elite to support and grow local economies for lower classes. Noblesse Oblige prescribed that with great wealth comes the responsibility to give back to those who are less fortunate than oneself. Was this balance between taking and giving true freedom?

Ordinary individuals may want to balance their giving on a reduced scale.

The conundrum seems to have three dimensions: Freedom; Responsibility; Self sacrifice.

Through acquisition, giving and tolerance, independence may be possible daily.

My blog: https://martinknox.com

LIMITING HIGH ENERGY USERS

Energy was rationed in war-time to conserve scarce supplies. Less severe scarcity was dealt with by allowing the price to rise. A person’s energy consumption was mostly unregulated, without limits on demand. 

The Paris Agreement in 2016 . . .

‘. . . set out a global framework signed by 192 nations to avoid dangerous climate change with a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change; the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries; to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science, so as to achieve a balance between emissions and containment in the second half of the century.’

Under this agreement, nations ‘volunteered’ to limit emission levels. A small number of nations emit most of the emissions and these high emitters would observe the same growth limits as low emitters. Nations causing most warming would have the same proportional restriction as those causing least. 

The focus on so-called greenhouse gases, having warming qualities which are hypothetical, are associated with energy emissions from combustion, either by direct release in combustion or indirectly from intermediate products such as electricity, during and after use. Thermal energy emissions are more significant but not included.

The burden of emissions reduction would fall on developed nations with the highest per capita electricity consumption, with self-indulgent demand such as for air conditioning, whereas poor nations might possibly have no electricity connected and need the growth desperately? In developed countries, most energy is consumed as electricity and petrol.

In a developed country, the restriction of emissions growth could conceivably limit the use of a third family car, whereas in an undeveloped country, a carless family could have use of its washing machine limited, requiring more manual labour. Is this an equitable difference?

There is no precedent for the limitation by The Paris Agreement, of demand for energy, or any commodity, in order to make a contribution to reducing universal external costs of climate change. It is an unprecedented restriction of energy growth with disproportionate effect on developing countries. At best, it is a bold attempt to rein in emissions growth but heavily weighted against low energy users who need that growth to develop.

At worst, the regulation of emissions limits standards of living, because emissions are associated with combustion and energy consumption, as is the standard of living. 

Do people have a right to limitless energy consumption, as they do to oxygen from the air? Per capita emissions in developed nations are much larger than in undeveloped nations who would be cutback proportionally. Could the developed nations cutback their emissions without preventing developing countries attaining a similar standard of energy use? Could emissions cuts depend on emissions, in the same way that income tax rates depend on income. Emitters should have to suffer greater cuts proportional to their high energy use. High polluters should have to compensate low polluters.

An energy consumption tax is needed, whose function is to penalize high personal consumption of high-emission energy and subsidise low consumption, low-emission energy.
If you agree, tell your politician.

My other writing on growth, energy and rights is at https://martinknox.com

CAN THERMAL POLLUTION BE FAIRER?

Suppose countries’ heat energy inputs to the environment would be proportional to their electricity consumption. This is shown for a selection of countries in the table on a per capita basis. Their growth in electricity consumption is given over the past 35 years. Would the fairest way be to 1) assign cuts in electricity consumption to get an equal percentage reduction in per capita consumption or 2) for high consumers to pay compensation to low consumers? My purpose is to demonstrate thermal pollution can be fairly assigned by arbitrary reduction of growth in per capita electricity consumption.

Source: ourworldindata.org My writing on growth is at https://martinknox.com

Countries could reduce thermal pollution by taking a percentage cut in per capita electricity consumption or high users could compensate low users. Presumably World citizens have rights to an amount of thermal pollution?
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