Home » We Should Let China Bankrupt Itself Making Us Cheap EVs And Solar Panels

We Should Let China Bankrupt Itself Making Us Cheap EVs And Solar Panels

Tmd Chaina 1
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I was reading this morning about how U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is in China trying to get Chinese manufacturers to stop making so much damn stuff. I get it. The ‘China Shock’ that occurred at the beginning of this century was corrosive and damaging and made a few people very rich and most of us worse off, so the fear of it happening again is real.

But what if we take the lessons we learned from the last explosion of Chinese manufacturing and use them to our advantage? China’s government, for various historical and political reasons, is ready to potentially trash its economy in an effort to drive the prices of battery-powered vehicles, solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, and all sorts of other green stuff much, much cheaper. I say… let them.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

I will be honest that I’m not even sure how sincere I am with this proposal, but if you’ll forgive my Swiftian turn (Jonathan, not Taylor) I think it’s worth exploring the idea if only because some version of this might happen anyway.

This proposal is unique in that it is simultaneously anathema to almost everyone, from extremely liberal pro-union households to deeply anti-China/anti-union voters with right-wing views to Elon Musk.

Today’s Morning Dump is going to get weird and maybe even a little uncomfortable, so stick with me and I’ll reward you with a couple of short bits about Canoo’s CEO’s and his private jet habit, an update on Fisker, and what’s going on with Volvo.

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Here we go.

A Slightly Less Modest Proposal

Byd Seal

Let’s start with what’s happening today and I’ll work us backward into my proposal because this requires some context to enjoy. Additionally, I’d like to demonstrate I have at least a moderate understanding of the potential consequences of this proposal.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is in China, she’s talking to Chinese officials, and she’s got a message: Slow down.

Here’s the report from Reuters:

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen arrives in China’s southern factory hub of Guangzhou on Thursday with a tough message to Chinese officials: you’re producing too much of everything, especially clean energy goods, and the world can’t absorb it.

China is unleashing a flood of electric vehicles (EVs), batteries, solar panels, semiconductors and other manufactured goods onto global markets, the result of years of massive government subsidies and weak demand at home. Global prices for many goods are tanking, pressuring producers in other countries.

“We see a growing threat of money losing firms that are going to have to sell off their production somewhere,” a senior U.S. Treasury official said of overproduction in key Chinese sectors.

This is a strange set of paragraphs to parse with no historical or economic context. The person in charge of making sure our economy stays strong is going to China and asking companies that are probably losing money to stop dumping cheap goods on the world. Specifically, she’s asking China to stop producing all of these cheap goods that are, net, probably good for the environment.

The current American government, which believes global warming is a threat, is simultaneously trying to make green stuff cheaper for American consumers and stop China from helping make green stuff cheaper.

More from Reuters:

Including EVs and combustion-engine cars, China by the end of 2022 had the capacity to produce 43 million vehicles annually, but its plant utilisation rate – a measure closely linked to profitability – was just under 55%, according to data from the China Passenger Car Association.

[…]

The situation in China’s solar panel sector may be worse, where overproduction pushed prices down 42% last year to levels 60% below the cost of comparable U.S.-made products. China now accounts for 80% of global production capacity, and major solar producers are continuing to build factories, backed by provincial and local subsidies.

Wild stuff. China has made a bet that it can be the leader of the rest of this century, in the way that the United States was after WWII, and it can do it by helping supply the developing world with affordable manufactured goods and loans/expertise to build up local infrastructure. This is the “New Silk Road” or “Belt and Road” initiative. China has subsidized a huge green manufacturing base and is willing to continually drive down the prices so that it can use these factories, which it needs to do because China’s economy is shaky and the population is rapidly aging.

Generally speaking, Western governments aren’t jazzed about this. They are fearful of the spread of China’s influence and the replacement of the dollar as the de facto global currency, which is something China wants to happen.

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Plus, the United States suffered greatly from ‘China Shock’ when Western governments allowed China to make a bunch of stuff so cheaply and sell that stuff in the West in the hopes that it would drive down prices enough to offset manufacturing job losses. This was not good. Here’s what happened, according to Stanford’s Center on China’s Economy and Institutions:

The evidence indicates that the U.S. witnessed a 2.68% drop in manufacturing employment-to-population ratio* between 2001 and 2019. The scholars find that import penetration from China, which increased at an average rate of 0.89% between 2000 and 2012, accounted for 59.3% of all manufacturing job losses in the U.S. between 2001 and 2019. Furthermore, the research findings show that the regions experiencing larger trade-induced reductions in manufacturing employment did not experience a corresponding drop in local population due to out–migration nor increased absorption of laid-off workers into non-manufacturing sectors. Manufacturing job losses caused by the China trade shock converted nearly one for one into long-term unemployment.

I also have a personal belief that a lot of our political strife of the present came out of the Democratic Party abandoning labor and manufacturing on behalf of some neo-liberal economic belief that free trade will solve all of our problems. Life in Rust Belt states got massively bad and the negative externalities of this (opioid addiction, obesity, extremist tendencies) far outweighed the positive benefits (low inflation, cheap plastic crap).

Yellen and others are against letting this happen. European lawmakers, for instance, are attempting to put retroactive tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles. For a good view of why, there’s this piece in Business Insider titled “The world is scarred from China shock 1.0. They’re not about to let 2.0 happen so easily.”

From the piece:

The world isn’t going to be caught flat-footed by China’s emerging dominance in hot new industries this time.

“It is likely that strategic competition between the US, EU, and China will continue in the long-term in areas of advanced manufacturing technologies,” said Biswas.

Many companies are already diversifying supply chains away from China for a range of products.

There’s also this great bit from Janet Yellen in The Wall Street Journal:

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“People like me grew up with the view: If people send you cheap goods, you should send a thank-you note. That’s what standard economics basically says,” she said. “I would never ever again say, ‘Send a thank-you note.’ ”

I’m sure Yellen is way smarter than I am and has an extremely difficult job. She seems to recognize the importance of China to the global economy and also the risks that exist by letting it run away with its manufacturing base and destroy the capabilities to build batteries and green technology in the United States, Europe, Japan, and other countries.

At the same time, I believe global warming is a real thing. I believe that the biggest barrier to dramatically lowering our carbon footprint in the long term is the short-term price of all of these things.

So, here’s my proposal: Take down trade barriers and lower tariffs so China can make a ton of cheap BEVs, batteries, and solar panels. Buy them. Buy a ton of them. Put cheap Chinese batteries in American-built cars. Rapidly electrify the car market in the West and ‘green’ the grid with cheap solar everywhere. A not-small component of inflation is the prices of transportation and the price of energy and we can lower both pretty rapidly.

Use this sudden windfall to our advantage and, to take a page from Adam Posen, welcome in engineers, students, and investment from China in the United States:

The United States should welcome those savings, along with Chinese businesses, investors, students, and workers who leave in search of greener pastures. But current policies, enacted by both the Trump and the Biden administrations, do the opposite. They seek to close off American universities and companies to Chinese students and workers. They restrict inward foreign investment and capital inflows, and they discourage Chinese companies from moving into the U.S. and allied economies, whether for production or for research and development. They reduce downward pressure on the yuan and diminish, in the eyes of ordinary Chinese people, the contrast between their government’s conduct and that of the United States. These policies should be reversed.

The last ‘China Shock’ was good for China and, I believe, bad for the West. I think we can do the opposite here.

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Via the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS Act, we’re already making huge investments in ensuring America has a pipeline of key goods like semiconductors and batteries. Let’s do more of that. Also, Chinese battery companies are ahead of us in battery production, let’s learn from them and copy them. We can simultaneously make EVs cheaper here and build an EV industry.

While the net impact of electric vehicles on the global environment is positive, the production of these batteries can have negative environmental impacts on the local level. That local level is often China, and not here.

Someone on the planet is going to have to subsidize the production of cheaper batteries and solar panels and all the green things we want. If we’re putting up trade barriers and putting tax credits on the hood of every EV then we’re the ones doing it and we’re the ones paying for it. Why not let China pay for it?

My theory here is that China cannot continue to subsidize this stuff forever and that, actually, bringing their plants up to full utilization and continuing to lower prices would end up being bad for China as it’s not sustainable and the end result would be further imperiling the Chinese economy. If we use the cost savings to build up our own industry and offset the potential job loss, we’re essentially letting China subsidize the creation of our own green economy.

If we did it like last time this would mean completely destroying American manufacturing and losing a ton of jobs. I’m not arguing we do that. I’m arguing we use this one-time savings from cheap cars and batteries, subsidized by China, and use those savings to temporarily subsidize the employment of all of the people and companies impacted. Eventually, China buckles and the West will have both the capacity and expertise to fill the void.

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Assuming the elite of China are rational and smart, which I generally do, then at some level I think at least a little of the bluster from Chinese Communist Party officials is just kayfabe and they hope, or should hope, that the West find some middle ground balancing act that saves China from itself while also helping the country increase goods production and prices so it can keep its population employed.

But I don’t think China is just going to decide to close its factories and I don’t think Western governments can resist cheap Chinese goods forever. Rather than this long process of trade mediation, which is what we’re probably in for if President Biden wins this November, I think we just rip off the bandaid and make ‘China Shock 2.0: Electric Boondagle’ China’s problem. Obviously, if Donald Trump wins in November, we’re probably in for more extreme tariffs, which just kicks the can down the road.

So, this is my crazy proposal, and I’ll give you a chance at the bottom of the post to tell me why I’m wrong.

EV Startup Canoo Spent 2x Its Annual Revenue On CEO’s Jet: Report

Nasa Canoo

Our pal Kirsten Korosec over at Tech Crunch is a great reporter and went through EV Startup Canoo’s 2023 earnings reports and found this tucked in there:

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The company generated $886,000 in revenue in 2023 compared to zero dollars in 2022, as the company delivered 22 vehicles to entities like NASA and the state of Oklahoma. And it did reduce its loss from operations by nearly half, from $506 million in 2022 to $267 million in 2023. The revenue-to-losses gap is still considerable though: The company reported total net losses of $302.6 million in 2023.

Still, one only needs to look at what Canoo is paying to rent the CEO’s private jet to put those “wins” into perspective. Under a deal reached in November 2020, Canoo reimburses Aquila Family Ventures, an entity owned by the CEO, for use of an aircraft. In 2023, Canoo spent $1.7 million on this reimbursement — that’s double the amount of revenue it generated. Canoo paid Aquila Family Ventures $1.3 million in 2022 and $1.8 million in 2021 for use of the aircraft.

You gotta spend money to make money, I guess.

Fisker Withdraws All Financial Guidance For 2024

Fisker Ocean 1

How is Fisker going to do this year? As discussed many times, it’s not going well, and according to the company’s latest filing it’s getting worse:

As previously disclosed, the Company continues to evaluate strategic alternatives. Such alternatives may include in or out of court restructurings, capital markets transactions (subject to market conditions), repurchases, redemptions, exchanges or other refinancings of the Company’s existing debt, the potential issuance of equity securities, the potential sale of assets and businesses and/or other strategic transactions and/or other measures. These alternatives involve significant uncertainties, potential significant delays, costs and other risks, and there can be no assurance that any of these alternatives will be available on acceptable terms, or at all, in the current market environment or in the foreseeable future.
The Company has determined to withdraw all financial and operational guidance for the year 2024 that was previously disclosed by the Company on February 29, 2024, and will forego providing any updated guidance while it continues to evaluate strategic alternatives.
None of this is a surprise, even if it’s a bummer.

Volvo Is Having A Good Quarter

Phev Volvo S60 Recharge Charging

Volvo sales are up globally as the car shifts towards electrification with the small Volvo EX30 and, at the same time, has a decent number of plug-in hybrids for sale.

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It’s indicative of the consumer difference between Europe and the U.S. in the split between EV and PHEV sales. In Europe, Volvo’s fully electric sales rose 48% in Q1 2024 compared to Q1 2023. Over the same period, PHEV sales fell by about 2%.

In the United States, it’s exactly the opposite. Through the first three months of 2024, BEV sales dropped by 65% while sales of Volvo’s PHEV models increased by 44%. This will probably stabilize as the EX30 arrives in the United States, but it’s an interesting stat to consider.

What I’m Listening To While Writing TMD

I did indeed watch a little of “Good Will Hunting” on a plane last week so, yeah, Elliott Smith is stuck in my head.

The Big Question

Tell me why my proposal is insane. I’ll wait.

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Dangerous_Daveo
Dangerous_Daveo
2 months ago

The plan has a few flaws.

If the US does it, so will everyone else, meaning the loss of the advantage on catching up. That said, it will bankrupt China faster assuming no other factors.

While the govt might be quick to get the new products in, getting the investment and approvals in to the new manufacturing is where it will fall over.

The quick increase in sales will likely quickly increase investment in China too, giving a bigger and longer float to wait it out.

China can exploit its own people pretty efficiently, however, they do need to pay more to more people to keep things going on their end. I’m sure Africa is a fine hunting ground for cheap exploitable (if volatile) labour…

And end of the day, if China are in a corner, I’m sure they’ll be pretty happy to fight their way out, and that will end up in a lot of tears.

I honestly think the better card is the uno reverse, and allow investment exactly like they have for the past couple of decades. Joint a local partner, and share IP, or you can’t come join the party.

IDM3
IDM3
2 months ago

 “if China are in a corner”

They are. The real estate market is tanking, the Belt and Road initiative is in shambles, Russia is drawing even closer to North Korea, and companies are leaving China in droves for manufacturing deals elsewhere in SE Asia. That would explain the saber-rattling with Taiwan, the Philippines, India, the US and now Vietnam, which is now courting the global companies fed up with China’s IP thievery and bully pulpit. And also, trying to make amends with Canada and Australia after screwing them over.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
2 months ago

My mindset for the “drill baby drill” folks is no way! Let everyone else drill drill drill, and when they run out, they have to come to us for oil (profit profit profit).

So, I agree with Matt, let China make make make solar stuff, while we (USA) works on build build build the infrastructure to make stuff so we are prepared when China’s solar industry crashes due to internal issues or we (USA) get our build act together.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
2 months ago
Reply to  Knowonelse

That’s been my response for years. Use other people’s cheap oil then make them buy yours when it’s expensive. I don’t see why so many fail to grasp the idea…

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago

We should buy massive amounts of cheep armaments from China and give them to Ukraine. That should mess some minds up real good.

The48thRonin
The48thRonin
2 months ago

Cold War II: Electric Boogaloo

What could possibly go wrong?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 months ago

That is certainly a take.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
2 months ago

When you pay your bills in a currency you produce, you literally cannot bankrupt yourself.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

You can come functionally close to it as the currency hyperinflates itself to worthlessness. Eventually, there’s nothing the currency can buy, and it is more useful as kindling or toilet paper. And given the digitization of the U.S. dollar that is in progress, we may not even get that functionality should it collapse in value since it will just be bits of data stored on a harddrive somewhere…

I_drive_a_truck
I_drive_a_truck
2 months ago

Your proposal sucks. You’re assuming that somehow the savings on green energy products from China will somehow be magically captured as money that can be passed on to the development of technologies domestically but you never state how. How on earth would the US government have extra money to spend on domestic industry? Tax collections will be lower on imports, sales taxes collected by states would be lower, there’s no mechanism to collect additional revenue by the government and a better justification for domestic business to not raise wages for their employees, which means you have a follow-on magnifying effect on your tax collections. Your idea fails to account for the fact that the government’s money has to come from somewhere and you never account for where it might come from-you have to account for the tax revenue somewhere eventually. That means it’s half-baked.

Here’s what you do:
Change regulations such that laying off workers in the US carries a severe enough penalty that businesses become more careful to hire and less quick to do layoffs in order to smooth employment curves and stabilize incomes more broadly. Business will grow more slowly, yes, but they’ll also grow more carefully and be less risky overall – that’s a good thing for the long-term economy. This will both increase consumer savings and consumer consumption as you’re mitigating risk and volatility in consumer income and increase wealth and taxable income more broadly.

We should also be measuring CPI and managing monetary and regulatory policy based on a weighted impact of necessary goods and services so that Housing, Medical, Food, and Insurance industries are exposed as major negative drivers of affordability, discretionary income (inversely, obviously), and relative poverty and wealth. We should ignore the price effects of discretionary spending (including ignoring purchase on luxury good like electric vehicles). Sure lots of things are super affordable these days but there’s a lot more that is wildly unaffordable and necessary to maintain an minimum acceptable quality of life. It’s big business to take required necessities and squeeze every dollar out of the end consumer (because they can) and that has to stop – eliminate consolidation in Insurance, eliminate institutional consolidation and influence in Housing and Medicine, eliminate high-leverage PE plays that are shutting down small-market hospitals (hell eliminate the high-leverage business model altogther by taxing the shit out of LBOs above a reasonable multiple). Even Food is getting consolidated – split up overly-consolidated producers and major supermarket chains. While deconsolidation is cost-inefficient, it will drive job growth in the near-term and competition and innovation in the long-term and be a net gain for consumers.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 months ago

LBOs should be illegal.

What kind of a cocaine fiend wall street motherfucker came up with that idea anyway.

I_drive_a_truck
I_drive_a_truck
2 months ago

Using debt to purchase a business is a normal thing assuming you also have a reasonable and supporting amount of equity and an earnings ratio that supports reasonable payback. Using an LBO to aggressively lever up a company to a high-risk level and then draining the cash coffers and line the pockets of short-term investors and to leave the bank holding the bag is absolutely criminal. The bankers do it because they make money for them and their friends and if it goes really bad, the government is always willing to step in and save them. Let the banks go out of business. Tax the hell out of LBO corporate raiders.

While we’re at it, tax the return for PE firms that hold their majority or controlling minority shares less than 10 years at 80%. Too many decisions are made with a 3-5 year outlook on profits and cash flow and investment exit that screw over companies in the long term.

Jonus Grumby
Jonus Grumby
2 months ago

I like the intention of the idea. Let China put a Soviet collapse by building a whole bunch of stuff, that both doesn’t have a customer, or money to back the products up. All on the name of bullshiting the population into thinking they are doing better than they are.

But the last thing we need are more Chinese electrics collecting data, and becoming dependent on a manufacturing base that is speeding twords a collapse.

We really, really, really need to turn Mexico into our next China.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago

Solar panels…

Suppose we borrow money to buy a bunch of solar panels from China. There is nowhere to immediately install them so then we borrow more money to build warehouses to store them. Mega projects take years to develop especially with the back log to connect them to the grid, so once it is finally time to install them the financing and storage costs have added up to significantly increase the price. During that time the price of newer models have fallen, and it would have been possible to buy the new model for the price paid for the old model with financing and storage costs.

The overcapacity is not in the newest and best solar panels, it is in the old models that are soon to be made obsolete by newer technology.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Oh I’m sure we can install solar power plants in the empty Western deserts as fast as China can send those panels over.

Falling prices and better tech just around the corner? Has that stopped you from buying a computer, a cellphone, a TV or even a toaster in the past 30 years?

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Solar panels from even 1 decade ago have gotten unbelievable good, and have come down in price. So much so that the inverter and storage batteries now cost more than the panels, and the batteries have come down in price a lot themselves.

The 250W system I’m implementing on my trike, including charge controller, cost well under $1,000, and my system is fancy using flexible panels of high efficiency and which are also suitable for gathering miniscule amounts of usable power during inclement weather conditions. I plan to buy more of them for a light-weight camper trailer I want to build to tow with that trike, so I could live out of it if it ever came to that.

You can buy 2 kW of inexpensive panels for residential use for under $1,000. The 2 kW grid-tie inverter is what’s going to cost you.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

The 2 kW grid-tie inverter is what’s going to cost you.

Amazon has them for $300-$400.

https://www.amazon.com/Inverter-Limiter-Battery-45V-90V-185V-265V/dp/B0CKQVHHZ3/ref=sr_1_21_sspa?crid=3GWHUYMLC3IQI&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.wfFCiujFIEX1n500vbmm6mutd0t9i4en7NCfdewyIuYS6In2zEXSilWyywvA0fNuMJz7UZlBrTt3W1V-gFRoxJ0Pog7fAkJ6xrthRZSRyHSjO1xuNpCa8TeGFMEzarc_xUNJ5bZr6XYvhw6SFNK0zxtK9V_EU4REp6_3rI5P2ZX2sbb67GOq-hakFixxF0Y-GcraXYT0XUjItjtMnAJOydgdY7vVIG8ty60l6Maz28g.ShkERkWdsOfHJPfMtGSmi9vF7O8yQVOkcNif4Ze9Uqw&dib_tag=se&keywords=grid%2Btie%2Binverter%2B2kw&qid=1712274312&sprefix=grid%2Btie%2Binverter%2B2kw%2Caps%2C161&sr=8-21-spons&sp_csd=d2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9idGY&th=1

I assume the ones you mean are higher quality and more expensive. Any particular reason top quality ones can’t be made to be even cheaper than these?

The other elephant of course is installation. You definitely want top quality on that.

Hmm, I pay about $0.50/kWh, some of the most expensive rates in the country. That means it would take 4000 hrs of free power to make up the cost of a $2000, 2kW system. I’m assuming there are costs beyond just panels, inverter and labor.

At an average of 5.82 solar hours/day for my ZIP that means 683 days or nearly two years (assuming all the energy is used to offset grid power), then it’s gravy. It’s tempting to think about.

How long could someone like me expect such a system to last and how much per year to keep it going?

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Damn, the linked inverter also has MPPT! Those seem to have also com down in cost quite a bit these last 2 years as well.

How long could someone like me expect such a system to last and how much per year to keep it going?

Depends on the weather. Watch out for tornados, hurricanes, and hail damage. Barring those things, you could easily get 2+ decades out of your solar panels before they only deliver 50% of nominal output, and even then, they’re still usable to a lesser degree.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I’ve long wondered about water cooling those panels. From what I understand heat if the main killer of panels with optimal performance at 77F so its seems putting them in thermal contact with a water cooled heat sink feeding the water heater or better yet, a pool could be a win win.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I’d like to add, if you had a slightly larger system, you could use it to charge an electric vehicle, and save even more money. A used Nissan Leaf could prove a worthy choice, if the battery is in decent shape. Failing that, an ebike fleet.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

A used Nissan Leaf could prove a worthy choice, if the battery is in decent shape

The 2013 and later models have V2H capability…

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Is that the price for new panels or are they used? When used panels get resold the warranty sticker is ripped off so that they can not get tax credits again, but also means they can not be grid tied. These used panels are for off grid use only, and should be ground mounted away from the house if you want to have an insurance policy.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Depending on where you get them, you can get new/unused solar panels for that mentioned price. Tax credits weren’t even considered in this price, and the laws governing their use as grid-tie devices will vary from state to state.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

In some places the best inverter are the ones that have a “zero export” function to curtail any excess. You do not need to wait on the power companies waiting list if you are not going to sell any power back to them.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

I really like the idea of not having bills. My plan was to do an entirely offgrid setup via solar and homemade wind turbines, but I’m finding increasingly fewer places that allow for you to do that without running afoul of legal code.

In many places I’ve looked into, even 20+ miles from the nearest town, the county government demands you hook up grid electricity at your own expense or you can’t live on your own property(even if you know how to make your own electricity and set such a system up, they want you paying the utility your money). They demand you do the same with water and gas and demand a septic system(I’m fine with a well and an outhouse placed hundreds of feet apart from each other). And they also won’t just let you live in a trailer, tiny home, or home-built shack on the land(which is what I want to do to keep the cost of shelter reasonable), but instead demand you have a house built on a foundation, up to modern building codes, with approved contractors doing the work(DIY is being increasingly legislated out of existence), and have a minimum square foot requirement of no less than 1,500 sq ft(more often, 2,000+ sq ft, and I’ve seen some places where it was 3,000+ sq ft).

So basically, unless you’re $300k+ in debt for the next 30 years to build a McMansion, or paying $2,000+/mo in rent to a landlord(who is also paying lots of property taxes), or if you live in a trailer paying $1,000+/mo in lot fees to someone in a designated area, government no longer thinks you deserve access to shelter. The local government wants that property you “own” to be assessed as expensively as possible so they can milk you for property tax revenue and they want you paying interest to the banks. They want you PAYING someone with money that you have to work for.

And then everyone wants to complain about all of the homeless people(most of whom have jobs), or blame their fellow Americans who are “living beyond their means” and living paycheck to paycheck because of their debts incurred by housing/transportation costs.

Guess what? I make six-figures and I STILL couldn’t afford all of this crap without being in debt the rest of my life. So a basic living is getting beyond the means of anyone who isn’t rich, unless they go into debt, and then they better hope they never have an accident, job layoff, or unexpected medical expense for the entire duration, lest they lose everything and start over. I have 12 years experience as an engineer, and I’ve had 4 layoffs and 1 medical event for the duration, so I’m not confident I could stick to a 30 year mortgage without any of those things ever happening again. Whereas, if I went off grid, I could make it work and have lots of surplus cash, but finding a place where I can do that without someone with a badge and a gun telling me “NO” is getting increasingly difficult, and when I do find such a place, the land is increasingly more expensive($XX,XXX/acre) or burdened with “gotchas”(eg. no water rights or mineral rights).

I know someone who lived in a trailer for decades, on land he bought for $20,000, using solar panels, a diesel generator, and well water, all fully paid for. His property taxes were affordable, about $30/year. The local police eventually came and kicked him off his own land because he didn’t meet all the requirements(minimum square footage HOUSE, grid electricity, water/sewer, ect). His nearest neighbors lived a mile away. He was a minimum wage worker and couldn’t afford to do all of the above, and even if he did, the property taxes would have taken the money he used to eat off of, so he lost it and lives out of his truck again camping in Walmart parking lots at night, after spending his teen years and early 20s clawing his way out of homelessness.

So sick of these rules. I just want to be able to have a chance to retire and have some kind of life outside of work before I’m too old or in poor health to do anything with my life. And I’d like to do that without having to resort to crime. But that’s not conducive to being milked in every direction by already wealthy capitalists who have purchased the government or conducive to being used as a tax donkey by government, both of whom feel entitled to everyone’s time, money, and lives.

It’s looking like I might have to spend a few months/years living out of my electric trike while I explore the U.S., looking for suitable places to where I can get away with building a permanent off grid shelter while being left the hell alone. It is still possible, at least.

Last edited 2 months ago by Toecutter
Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

You should check out rural Michigan. I was looking at some land and the local authorities allowed wind turbines with a tower up to 30′. I think the house size requirements were the same as you described. If I was going to build a small house in the country, I would go with insulated concrete forms. Make it an 800 sq foot single story house but finish the basement so it technically counts as over 1500 square feet. This could be all done DIY but it would probably be cheaper to hire a concrete truck delivery. The best thing about ICF is that it can take a direct hit from a tornado, as well as having very high insulation.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Prices have fallen in PV panels so much that the metal racking systems cost more. Labor costs more as well. Lower tier panels will require more panels to be installed and wired to the inverter for the same output. It will take up more land with higher rent costs and require a bigger fence to be put up around it. Higher cost top tier panels will have lower total project costs, and the factories that make those have much less spare capacity.

Suppose we went all out on Chinese friendship and let them build massive projects in the desert by getting rid of any environmental review for federal land. Use Chinese labor living in air conditioned shipping containers, use all Chinese aluminum and copper wires. It would get done pretty quick and cheap, but then it would still take 10 years to build the transmission project to population centers.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Prices have fallen in PV panels so much that the metal racking systems cost more. Labor costs more as well. Lower tier panels will require more panels to be installed and wired to the inverter for the same output. It will take up more land with higher rent costs and require a bigger fence to be put up around it

The solar farms I’ve seen have been in remote, ultra low rent areas so as far as building and rent costs and go I would expect those to be bargain basement compared to say a coastal power station. So go ahead and use the cheap panels.

it would still take 10 years to build the transmission project to population centers.

Substations and power lines aren’t rocket science and we put a man on the moon in less time than that for a lot less *reason*.

The lines need not go to power centers either, just from the farm to the nearest link in the grid.

Better yet just tie them to the nearest hydroelectric dam and use that as the battery.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

“remote, ultra low rent areas”
How remote? If it is far enough away that labor needs to get temporary housing that is going to add costs. Extra racking material is going to need transportation. The other thing to consider is revenue over the project lifespan. Higher quality panels are going to have better output in lower light conditions so they make a greater amount of electricity is made per year, as well as slower degradation so the same rated amount will have higher output 10+ years from now (with a better warranty). Even at the lowest land cost site, a medium cost panel with a legitimate warranty from a company that will be around for awhile will likely be the more profitable option. Replacing low cost and low quality panels that will break at a higher rate means a higher operating cost with lost revenue even if the manufacturer will honor the warranty.

“The lines need not go to power centers either, just from the farm to the nearest link in the grid.”

This part is a huge oversimplification. The nearest link to the grid is going to be low capacity rural residential connected to a substation with one-way transformers that could only handle a small percentage of a large project even if the substation was upgraded. The link could be to an existing natural gas power plant that has multiple smaller lines going out from it, but these are typically located on the outskirts of a city. Every other major transmission line has projects already ahead in the queue. Building new transmission lines in less than 10 years would be possible if all lawsuits and environmental reviews were eliminated, as long as the cables and substation equipment were also made in China.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

“How remote?”

From what I saw from the air as remote as it gets:

Like it makes Area 51 look like LA remote.

Like its already been nuked many times and nobody ever noticed remote.

Like its where Yucca Mountain SHOULD have been remote

Like the Vegas Mob wouldn’t bother go out THAT far to whack a guy remote.

Like a feral Death Valley remote.

Like “If you lived here, your neighbors might be Deathclaws!” remote.

Like ALL things Burning Man could vanish forever in it to the delight of everyone remote.

Like you could believe it’s the ass end of the Bermuda Triangle remote.

Like even native Americans forgot about its existence remote

Like massive spice sand worms ridden by sleestaks might be there remote

Like even modern maps fill in the blank with “here be monsters” remote.

Like it could be built, the service roads blocked off and nobody would ever know it was even there save the occasional commercial airliner passenger (like me) who happened to see it from above remote.

That remote enough for you?

“If it is far enough away that labor needs to get temporary housing that is going to add costs.”

You were proposing air conditioned shipping containers. I’d expect those are cheaper than any fleabag motel and probably less bedbuggy.

As to the decade long timeline I will point out the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System went from final approval and its groundbreaking ceremony in 2010 to being grid connected in 2013:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivanpah_Solar_Power_Facility

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

This is probably my favorite comment on this site, even though it has nothing to do with cars. Made my day.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Sounds very remote. So remote that it would be more expensive to send a repair crew. Do you really think that going with a company that cut quality control to hit a price target is the right move? You get what you pay for. There is even a Chinese word for it, and I do not want Chabuduo panels. (translates to “good enough for government work”)

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Sounds like you made up your mind regardless.

“Do you really think that going with a company that cut quality control to hit a price target is the right move?”

Yes if it’s good enough. Nevada is remote BUT its not “Mars” remote, not even “Antarctica” remote. You can still get a crew out there within 24 hrs in an emergency. The station is going offline at sunset anyways.

A stationary terrestrial power station is not going to experience NVH of a space launch nor the extreme temperature swings of space. China started making panels for spacecraft in the 50’s. They know how to make panels good enough for that. China has its own giant solar power installations so they know how to build panels good enough for that too.

China makes 80% of the worlds photovoltaic so you can get whatever quality you’re willing to pay for. If your mind is made up that Chinese products are inferior to Made In America ones then go ahead and buy American panels. You’ll pay 60% more for what will probably be just as “good enough”:

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/china-solar-industry-faces-shakeout-rock-bottom-prices-persist-2024-04-03/

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

“If your mind is made up that Chinese products are inferior to Made In America ones then go ahead and buy American panels.”

I am talking about China panels from a reputable company with good finances versus China panels from a company with a weird name that you have never heard of that cost 30% less. How it works is you pay Bloomberg money and they give you the list of current tier 1 suppliers and then you buy from that list. Monocrystalline PV panels from a tier 1 supplier are good, polycrystalline PV panels from a tier 2 supplier are bad. Tier 2 might be “good enough” at the lowest price but are not worth the additional risk because the panels themselves no longer make up the largest share of the entire project cost.

https://www.solarreviews.com/blog/pros-and-cons-of-tier-1-vs-tier-2-solar-panels

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

“This classification was originally created by BloombergNEF in 2012. It’s not a system to judge the quality of solar panels – it’s actually a measure of ‘bankability,’ and is based solely on financial criteria.”

You do you. If it makes you feel better spend more but that doesn’t mean the cheaper panels aren’t just as good.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

““We’ve noticed that people have started to sacrifice quality to cut costs, which is a dangerous signal,” Zhong Baoshen, chairman of Longi Green Energy Technology Co., said Friday at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan, China. 

China dominates the global solar industry, but years of rapid expansion have generated serious overcapacity and a battle for survival among producers. With solar-panel prices slumping to record lows, companies have been forced to sell at or below production costs. Longi has cut thousands of jobs amid the downturn.

One of the ways that Chinese solar companies have brought down production costs over the past decade is by slicing ever-thinner square wafers that house photovoltaic cells, saving money by reducing material costs.

Now, some are doing that too quickly: pushing out products without adequate testing to understand how the cells will fare over a lifespan of 20-30 years, he said. “When people are slashing costs or skimping on raw materials, there comes a risk,” Zhong said.”
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-03-29/china-s-solar-sector-battle-puts-quality-at-risk-longi-says

Go with the market leader Longi and get a 25 year warranty, or go with a company selling a product that is actually worse than last year in order to try not to go out of business.

Now it might be possible to design a system where it would not matter if quality is poor. It would probably look like erthos earth mounted solar where the panels are just flat on the ground, but with microinverters so a single panel failure does not take out a whole string.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Longi has cut thousands of jobs amid the downturn.

Sounds like your market leader has their own problems.

YMMV. If those bargain basement panels are good enough to do the job why not? Again we’re not talking about panels for a Mars colony here. Not everything has to last even 25 years. Cheap panels have their place on Earth too. They would be very useful for places like Africa or Afghanistan where war, weather, neglect or any number of non covered reasons might doom a power station within the warranty lifetime anyway.

Framed
Framed
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

I believe “the backlog to connect them to the grid” is the most significant issue. Typically green energy projects fit where there are not high capacity transmission lines already, so adding that infrastructure is what’s holding us back, not the solar panels or Wind turbines.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Framed

Not if you’re talking rooftop solar. That reduces grid load rather than adding to it.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago

I’ve always loved how people misunderstand trade imbalances. When China builds something for us and then sells it to us at half price, we profit, not them. Sure, they took a manufacturing job away, but ended up financing a service job in lieu. Of course that’s a VAST oversimplification of an exceptionally complicated process, but the net effect is the same. And when China holds those dollars they are paid in reserve they just increase the value of dollars. That’s why a global economy based on dollar transactions is good for America. However, this argument doesn’t play well in places like the rust belt, so one political party has turned the Global Economy into a boogeyman. Does this whole process generate additional wealth in other countries, you bet your ass. Is that good for us, hell yes! A rising tide… Duh.

Also, want to stop an influx of refugees? Maybe try to improve those places from which refugees are trying to escape. We used to understand this as a nation and provided real aid to those countries, but that’s no longer viewed as an option. It doesn’t play well with the base who can’t see beyond their own front porch.

Finally, want to stop China from doing anything too outrageous? Maybe let them build up an enormous pile of dollars such that they are inextricably bound to the success of the dollar. Indeed they can play games with valuations, but at some point that turns against you if you’re trying to harm the very thing you hold. If they do anything too nasty, void those foreign holdings and shit starts to unravel fast. Of course that’s never going to happen, which is just awesome in my mind. Anything that keeps superpowers in line is fine by me. It’s a messy game, but you have to play it.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

Also, want to stop an influx of refugees? Maybe try to improve those places from which refugees are trying to escape. We used to understand this as a nation and provided real aid to those countries, but that’s no longer viewed as an option.

I think its MUCH worse than that.

Those refugees are cheap, disposable, highly exploitable labor, especially the undocumented ones. So some American businesses like the United Fruit Company, US arms manufacturers, Big Oil and others benefit from directly exploiting the countries those refugees come from and US sweatshops, farms, rich households, construction companies, etc from the refugees themselves leaving the bill to others.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I’m reminded of those who built the railroads.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

And a lot of other things.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

You better not complain about “illegals” if you have ever eaten a domestic strawberry you didn’t grow yourself.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

Pretty sure the growers factor in above-the-board picker rates into the price of those strawberries but pays the “illegal” workers below the board rates (if they’re paid anything at all) and pockets the difference.

I_drive_a_truck
I_drive_a_truck
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

“Sure, they took a manufacturing job away, but ended up financing a service job in lieu.”
This is neither a 1:1 ratio nor is there even causation here. A service economy develops independently from a manufacturing economy. If you want a strong country, you must invest in both so their healthy complements.

Completely agree with the refugee point while at the same time believe that we ought to hold countries accountable for not maintaining their own northern borders because they know those illicit earnings also flow southward.

Also, you can’t just void foreign holdings of our debt. That’s stupid Trump-mentality shit. It might work for a failson with an eye for brand inflation who can always find a new banker friend rube from whom he can purchase loyalty but it doesn’t work on the macro scale. Countries don’t get to declare bankruptcy or selectively void bonds without completely destroying their credibility in world financial markets. There is always more bonds to issue and more money we need to borrow and screwing over yesterday’s borrows will make that more expensive and harder to do. This is the truest thing you said: “void those foreign holdings and shit starts to unravel fast.” That’s how you end up with hyperinflation.

H S
H S
2 months ago

Well, I don’t know if this counts as saying you’re wrong, but I think the answer to what you’re proposing is far more nuanced than what 99.9% of Americans think. Basically, your proposal is sort of correct but incorrect because there is more to what you’re saying than you’re saying (if that makes sense).
In other words, what you’re saying is like saying America saved the world in WWII. This is correct, sort of. America certainly helped save the world, but the reality is that there were a lot of moving parts along with that. It’s more correct to say America had a hand in saving the world in this case.

Back to your proposal. It wouldn’t really work because if we bought all of China’s output, it wouldn’t bankrupt the country. Americans don’t understand the Chinese economy or culture, and our media does a really good job of misinforming the public about what is really going on.

It is true that China subsidizes their industries (about as true as America saved the world in WWII). But that is only part of story. Even the cliche about “cheap Chinese labor” isn’t a major factor. If you take a look at China, their labor costs are spiraling upwards. Even they have outsourced much of the cheap manufacturing to other countries due to their increasing labor costs.

At the end of the day (and to keep the post relatively short because the real answer is far more complex than what I’m saying here), much of the “cheap” green products lower costs are more related to a high level of automation in the manufacturing process and the world’s most efficient (bar none, no one comes close) supply chain. This drives your manufacturing costs way, way, way down. Google the subject “china has 12 times more automation than thought” and you’ll see several articles on how American experts underestimated how much automation China uses. Research how much BYD owns their own supply chain. It’s these things that are driving the cost down on green energy products, not just subsidies.
Another thing to keep in mind, at least with EV’s. There are currently 91 companies in China producing EV’s, of which BYD is the top dog. BYD is on a tear, trying to bankrupt their competition in China.

We can scream “unfair subsidies for BYD” all we want, but does anyone believe the government and their citizens would stand for a subsidy that would allow one company to wipe out the other 90 in the country? That’s just not logical

This is why if we went all out and bought all the Chinese green products, it’s unlikely to bankrupt the country. It’s more likely to spur their economy.

But what would happen in America? Well, we’d have solar panels, EVs, batteries, etc. at much lower prices than we’re paying now. We would be putting our corporate executives (who got rich outsourcing manufacturing to China) in trouble because their companies would start losing money because they can’t compete. They would have to restructure and rethink how they would do business.

But that’s not entirely a bad thing. It would not be much more different than how things changed due to the industrial revolution.

We complain that we lost out big outsourcing manufacturing to China. The reality is that with automation we didn’t lose anything. Our “greedy” CEOs would have used the same automation China is using today to build things like appliances. Those jobs would be gone either way.

Try to find YouTube videos on China manufacturing and other things. You’ll find almost all of their facilities have very few people working in them. Almost all the work is done by robots.

Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
2 months ago

Yeah, no. People say that we anyho have to buy stuff made in china. But there’s huge difference going all out vs what cannot be avoided. Buying phone vs car is quite different thing. And all those aircraft carriers they’re churning out and western navy and airforce consultants are surely just for peaceful purposes.

Sometimes it’s good to spend a bit more and vote with wallet. And if you cannot afford new, used is also good option.

H S
H S
2 months ago

To keep things in perspective, you need to look at the design those aircraft carriers and the types of weapons that China is building. In order to really have the “non-peaceful” purpose that your post implies, their navy would need a massively different structure – actually, one closer to ours.

One aircraft carrier needs dozens (if not hundreds, depending on what you’re planning on doing) of support ships, aircrafts, for logistics, etc. Essentially an armada.

If you look at the style and design of a Chinese aircraft carrier, and their supporting fleet, you’ll find the design isn’t all that effective more than a thousand miles or so from a naval base. China has none (well, one in Djibouti). Their fleet is really designed to prevent invasion (a defensive design, not an offensive design) in and around the South China Sea. The only real place they could invade would be Taiwan. But even that is unrealistic – there’s no advantage to doing so. The only reason they would invade Taiwan would be if we gave them a reason to, not unlike our pushing Ukraine to join NATO pushed Russia to invade.

You are correct that their Air Force and Navy isn’t there just for peaceful purposes. But they are there for defensive purposes, not to invade, but to prevent from being invaded.

Even their hypersonic missile design follows that trait. The range is about 1200 miles. Far enough out to prevent a US aircraft carrier from attacking the mainland. But face it, how does a hypersonic missile that only reaches 1/3 across the Pacific Ocean present an existential threat to America? It only neutralizes our primary method of attacking an enemy – the aircraft carrier.

I don’t know about you, but you have to be awfully paranoid to feel an existential threat your well being is someone who has made it difficult to impossible for you to kill them.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

And all those aircraft carriers they’re churning out and western navy and airforce consultants are surely just for peaceful purposes.

Of course they are! Just like ours!

Scramblerken
Scramblerken
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Peace is our profession.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Scramblerken

Peace sells, but who’s buying?

Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Might come as surprise but even as non-american I kinda trust you guys with carriers more than de-facto dictator.

Altough with Trump trust kinda crumbles, but still.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

We shall see. I’d prefer China focus its big ship building efforts on its proposed fleet of nuclear powered container ships and tankers though. Those are a lot more useful and stand to do far more environmental good, maybe even more than all their EVs.

Scramblerken
Scramblerken
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Nobody gets the Dr. Strangelove reference?

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Scramblerken

If it’s precious bodily fluids China wants I’m sure we can accommodate…

Ben
Ben
2 months ago

So your proposal is that we play economic chicken with China, on the assumption that they’ll just let us bleed them dry while completely killing our domestic green energy industry? I see three major problems with that:

  1. Chinese leaders don’t have to worry about being voted out of office. They almost certainly have more staying power here than we do.
  2. China doesn’t have to tank their economy to beat us. They just have to absorb the losses long enough to kill our domestic production, and then they’ve got us by the proverbial balls. This is precisely why predatory pricing is illegal everywhere with a civilized economy.
  3. Even if we succeed, then what? We’re left with a Chinese green economy in shambles and also a US green economy in shambles because it made no sense during this buying blitzkrieg for anyone to invest in green energy production.

All I will say is thank the deity of your choice that you guys are better at running a car website than you are at global politics. 😉

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben

This is precisely why predatory pricing is illegal everywhere with a civilized economy.

1; Politicians and law in the U.S. have been thoroughly purchased by corporations. Corporations have a lockhold on both domestic and foreign policy, and they get what they want even when 90%+ of the U.S. population are opposed to it. Switching which political party is in power changes this not one iota.

2; The U.S. allows predatory pricing in many facets of life(g. healthcare), especially when taxpayer money is involved(defense spending, war, ect.). This money is taken to the expense of working people(many of whom live paycheck to paycheck and are permanently priced out of home ownership, will never retire, and always one or two missed paychecks or medical emergency away from homelessness), and handed to rich investors that don’t have to work if they don’t want to. This is no more civilized than China’s economy.

3; Resource limitations are probably going to leave both economies in shambles regardless of what is done. Infinite growth on a planet of finite resources is not possible, and both economies are set up to thrive only when there is growth.

Last edited 2 months ago by Toecutter
Attila the Hatchback
Attila the Hatchback
2 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Additionally, the communist party of China is more than willing to play the ‘long game’ and try to beat the US economically over a 20-100 year time span, whereas we are just playing a <=4 year game that follows election cycles and quarterly profits.

China’s government is willing to literally sacrifice 100k’s of Chinese citizens (see the Cultural Revolution) to maintain or increase their power. So yeah, don’t play economic chicken with a country that has slave labor, poor labor practices, and bad environmental policy.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
2 months ago

Frame of reference; Recall Earthrise https://images.app.goo.gl/5DVQUisKU6atHcVx7
Promoting a filthy supply chain anywhere in our biosphere is shitting where you eat. Don’t buy intentionally disposable crap.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

What’s next, telling people not to buy food because its going to become shit?

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Feces is not damaging the biosphere (well, except for when it’s an ocean’s worth from a pig farm).

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

The methane and carbon dioxide is. So is the cholera, rotavirus, E. coli, salmonella hepatitis C and A, norovirus, shigella…

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
2 months ago

There is no way under our current hyper capitalist system to make your proposal work (based on my near zero knowledge to be fair), but I appreciate the outside the box thinking.

Greg
Greg
2 months ago

I’m okay with this proposal, there would obviously be a lot of details worked out. I also think there are some holes in it, but I am taking this thought process for what you presented it as. A deep thought, but not an expertly researched piece.

This also assumes a lot of good will from the elite class to do what they say for once and actually spend money on our learning and infrastructure. No international meltdown/wars resulting from the drop kick China gets at the end etc…

That’s the craziest part, your optimism.

Ottomottopean
Ottomottopean
2 months ago

I’m arguing we use this one-time savings from cheap cars and batteries, subsidized by China, and use those savings to temporarily subsidize the employment of all of the people and companies impacted. Eventually, China buckles and the West will have both the capacity and expertise to fill the void.

I’m not going to say outright that you’re wrong here but my gut is telling me this would not work.

You’re making an assumption that we would somehow stay in the game of developing these technologies and that letting China do this would not result in them owning patents on the tech and having all knowledge of the manufacturing processes.

In our system, there has to be a financial incentive to go into this. If all the goods are super cheap from China subsidizing them, we won’t even get into it. I guess the government could subsidize research at the university level to stay on top of patents and the science behind a lot of this, but no manufacturer is going to want to invest time in knowledge of manufacturing just to be able to jump in when China crumbles.

It’s just like oil and gas production in this country. We let the Saudis, Russia and other middle east countries handle it until oil got up to $50/barrel in the early aughts. And it took a while for us to build that infrastructure up.

Bungalow Bernard
Bungalow Bernard
2 months ago

This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that we’ve got at least a 50/50 shot of being at war with China in the next ten years. I don’t want a bunch of remotely brickable cars on the road from a foreign adversary.

We don’t know what capabilities the US has, but we have sure built a lot of cars and engines and fuel injection systems in the last few decades. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few extra lines of code that were typed under the close supervision of the spooks at the CIA.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

We don’t know what capabilities the US has, but we have sure built a lot of cars and engines and fuel injection systems in the last few decades. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few extra lines of code that were typed under the close supervision of the spooks at the CIA.

Why bother with that? Just shut off the gas pumps.

John Beef
John Beef
2 months ago

I’m arguing we use this one-time savings from cheap cars and batteries, subsidized by China, and use those savings to temporarily subsidize the employment of all of the people and companies impacted. Eventually, China buckles and the West will have both the capacity and expertise to fill the void.

This might work, except American executives and Wall Street investors only care about quarterly profits. Nobody has the patience to wait this out.

Stealthwang
Stealthwang
2 months ago
Reply to  John Beef

exactly. this could work, but only if you had a rigorous planned economy

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  John Beef

It’s time the American people use their massive numbers to make sure American executives and Wallstreet investors are now the losers and the people themselves, the winners, in every arrangement going forward. It won’t happen through partisan politics, and may entail civil strife and possible upheaval, but it needs to be done so that things can finally start getting better. We’re on a very dystopian trajectory, and even in a dystopian existence, as things currently are.

America’s best and brightest minds are being squandered on schemes to maximize the flow of money to the 0.1%, rather than better the living conditions of everyone. The current US auto industry and the deliberate lack of functional mass transit as well as lack of viable car alternatives are a part of this scheme.

No planned economy is needed for this change, either, but simply an end to subsidizing business as usual will make all the dominoes fall on their own.

The Dude
The Dude
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I like your line of thinking, but our politicians keep the population distracted on what should be inconsequential issues so their Wall Street buddies can run amok. Even worse, some politicians have managed to convince their voting base that it’s a good thing for everyone to ensure executives, Wall Street, etc. receive special treatment.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

It’s time the American people use their massive numbers to make sure
American executives and Wallstreet investors are now the losers and the
people themselves, the winners, in every arrangement going forward.

Nope. That time was 2008-12 and what happened? Drum circles and smelly park sit-ins.

Meanwhile the same people who got us into that mess were bailed out with bonuses and we all paid for it with QE.

If 2008 wasn’t enough impetus to begin the revolution 2024+ won’t be either. The best we can hope for are better bread and circuses. Or at least learn to play something better than bongo drums:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-NaTqDwYPA

Last edited 2 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

It’s obvious what needs to be done, but I won’t elaborate given that it is well outside the scope of this website, could bring unwanted attention to its operators and potentially alienate some of its existing members who don’t agree.

And you’re not wrong.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Oh I’m sure the operators and existing members are well known to TPTB. IIRC TPTB pretty much ignored OWS until they started recommending people pull their money from the banks. Then all of a sudden the violence began and their protests were broken up. The conspiracist in me suspects dirty tricks were afoot as to my ears it sounded a lot like the game plan for COINTELPRO.

Toecutter
Toecutter
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

COINTELPRO is just the tip of that iceberg. The intelligence agencies and law enforcement have been completely and utterly weaponized against the American people. If this government actually followed its Constitution, domestic spying on the American people simply wouldn’t exist. But it does, and the court systems have deliberately failed to hold the perpetrators of it to account for decades, leaving no functional legal redress.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Sounds hopeless doesn’t it? All that’s left are smelly drum circles.

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