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Nuclear-free sandpit

October 22nd, 2010

The nuclear v renewables debate is going along in its sandpit with plenty of sand being thrown and a good time had by all as far as I can see. So, I thought I would open up a new sandpit to make space for any long interchanges on other topics, rants on favored hobby horses (other than energy-related) and so on. Have fun!

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  1. October 22nd, 2010 at 14:59 | #1

    A good blog post from Robert Stavins on why carbon pricing and technology measures are complements – not substitutes that have to compete with each other:

    http://www.grist.org/article/2010-10-21-carbon-pricing-and-technology-rd-initiatives-in-a-meaningful

    Hopefully supporters of technology measures (such as the Breakthrough Institute) will learn that it is silly to counter-pose technology measures to carbon pricing.

  2. el gordo
  3. Rationalist
    October 22nd, 2010 at 16:01 | #3

    Oh bah, I read the title and thought I could profess my love of coal here but alas, no energy related discussion fullstop.

  4. October 22nd, 2010 at 17:46 | #4

    Isn’t it time for Australia to develop a legal regime around illicit recreational drugs?

  5. Donald Oats
    October 22nd, 2010 at 18:37 | #5

    @Fran Barlow
    Absolutely. The injecting room at King’s X has worked in terms of reducing incidence of diseases like HIV and Hep C, as well as catching a number of potentially fatal overdoses. We will never be free of strong illicit drugs and the medical harm and crime spawned from them, and even the Prohibition Era in America could not stem the tide (in this case of alcohol consumption).
    While it is nice to have a strong moral position on this, such as the usual “Just say no. If you don’t it is all your fault.” or “Lock ‘em up and throw away the key, that’ll teach ‘em.”, which deal with questions of responsibility and deterrence, actual life is a bit messier than that. Other moral positions exist which are as defensible as the two common ones given above.
    Looking at the issues closer up, what drug is considered suitable for pharmaceutical or consumption for enjoyment is to a large extent a function of both the society and era in which we live. Morphine was a legal drug (for general consumption) on many occasions throughout history. The woopy weed has been legal in the past only to become the scourge of youth, or so we are led to believe, and has become illegal for reasons quite unrelated to the mores of the youthful. If woopy weed is illegal it cannot really be on the basis of a strong ethical position because both alcohol and tobacco are as harmful to an individual if not more so in the western world at least.

    When it comes to addiction, my view is that addiction to any drug, legal, prescribed, or illegal, should be treated first and foremost as a medical issue, rather than as a moral or criminal issue. Judgement can come later, after medical intervention and treatment has happened.

    I never really caught onto the “argument” supporting methadone treatment (forever) for heroin addicts, as it seems to be a case of replacing an (arbitrarily) illegal drug with a more potent legal one. Even medically it seems a bit dubious, given the issues surrounding determining the optimal safe dosing schedule for methadone treatment. Maybe methadone has some other advantages I’m not aware of.

  6. Donald Oats
    October 22nd, 2010 at 18:40 | #6

    @Donald Oats
    Oops, “Morphine was a legal drug” should read “Opium was a legal drug, as was heroin”.

    Morphine might have been legal once but I don’t know.

  7. el gordo
    October 22nd, 2010 at 18:52 | #7

    Pssst… Landbrokes are offering 7/1 on whether it will snow on Xmas day in the vicinity of Big Ben. The odds are good if the NAO index remains low.

    http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/pna/nao_index.html

  8. Alexander
    October 22nd, 2010 at 19:02 | #8

    Why is Australia so centralised? We have one of the highest rates of urbanisation of any country, but worse than that, the population of the country is so heavily concentrated in just a few massive cities: Just three account for almost half the population. Most states show an even worse pattern of well over half the population in just one city; we consider a state decentralised when it’s only around half. This has been bothering me for a while; I sometimes excuse us of this on the basis of the time we developed, but contemporary areas like New Zealand and the western United States don’t seem to show the same parallel. From my time living overseas, I think our quality of life suffers and our imagination suffers because of our “Sydney or the bush” attitude.

  9. October 22nd, 2010 at 19:30 | #9

    @Donald Oats

    Let me say that I’d be in favour of a much more liberal and harm-precvention-based regime even if it turned out that this would be a lot more costly than what we are doing now. Locking people up should not be lightly undertaken. Only the most compelling of threats to pyblic safety can warrant gaol.

    As this is an economics site though I will note that it has been asserted that Australia’s war on drugs costs about $4bn pa in enforcement and lost productivity, and it may well be a lot more than that. It’s doubtful we will ever be confident of the true figure in misery and harm.

  10. amota merang
    October 22nd, 2010 at 20:09 | #10

    im yr econ2040 student at UQ. Im sorry i couldn’t find yr uni email address and i really wana know where can I find reference readings for each lectures u gave(lecture 7 onward). I can’t tell which article on blackboard correspond to each lecture.

    cheers

  11. October 22nd, 2010 at 20:36 | #11

    Donald Oats :@Donald Oats Oops, “Morphine was a legal drug” should read “Opium was a legal drug, as was heroin”.
    Morphine might have been legal once but I don’t know.

    I’m pretty sure that during my recent stay in hospital, when the doctors had me on a self-administered morphine drip for about two weeks, they were operating within the law.

  12. Ryan
    October 22nd, 2010 at 23:32 | #12

    Fran Barlow :
    Isn’t it time for Australia to develop a legal regime around illicit recreational drugs?

    If you are very interested in this check out the propositions about to probably be passed in California which will legalize certain drugs. With marijuana being the states biggest cash crop (with only the medical component getting taxed at the moment), the expected tax revenue from this planned legislation has been touted by many as the individual councils (or provinces/whatever they are’s) solution to their local debt problems. Sorry I don’t have a good reference handy, but there should be plenty out there. http://www.democracynow.org did a nice report on it a few days back if I remember correctly. Back to Australia, for my 2 cents worth I think Australia’s drug problem lies in the amphetamines every second kid is taking these days — cut up with god knows what harmful chemicals. Given that they can get high on them for cheaper than a nights alcohol — legalizing them and possibly forcing the price down even further is pretty thin ice to walk right now (I think).

  13. October 23rd, 2010 at 06:56 | #13

    Personally, I’d be for legalising recreational drugs through licenced supply chains that would have to meet quality and packaging standards.

    I’d also favour having it on something like the e-health dBase that is being proposed in order to prevent abuse of the system. Selling outside the chain would be illegal.

    In the case of THC (for those who don’t know, the principal psychotropic agent in marihuana) it would be possible to deliver this via a patch (in the same way that smoking control medication is delivered) or via a nasal spray, which would therefore make it less harmful (since the damage to the lungs caused by smoking would be eliminated.

    The same could be done with heroin (cutting out the need for needles and eliminating an associated blood borne disease vector, needle disposal issues, accidental overdose and supply tampering or passing off).

  14. October 23rd, 2010 at 10:04 | #14

    OOps! I thought that this was a discussion of nuclear submarines stuck on sandspits. Sorry.

  15. October 23rd, 2010 at 13:13 | #15

    The nuclear v renewables debate is going along in its sandpit with plenty of sand being thrown and a good time had by all as far as I can see. So, I thought I would open up a new sandpit to make space for any long interchanges on other topics, rants on favored hobby horses (other than energy-related) and so on. Have fun!

    Except, of course, that you have closed comments for the nuclear sandpit thread.

  16. el gordo
    October 23rd, 2010 at 15:25 | #16

    Thanks, El Gordo, that was enough. You’re permanently banned

  17. jquiggin
    October 23rd, 2010 at 20:18 | #17

    I haven’t closed comments. The system may have autoclosed due to the age of the post – if so, I think the problem is now fixed.

  18. October 23rd, 2010 at 20:20 | #18

    @Finrod

    Oh. OK. No worries.

  19. October 23rd, 2010 at 20:21 | #19

    My last post was supposed to reply to Prof. Quiggin of course, not to myself…

  20. Alice
    October 29th, 2010 at 17:53 | #20

    @Finrod
    I hope you are feeling better really soon Finrod. I was probably on a plane and I missed your message in the other sandpit. Im only just catching up…There is no better place to sharpen up than here anyway…and you dont seem lazyhazy to me at all..that was just to stir you up.

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