TCS Daily


Prayer Conditioning

By Max Schulz - August 9, 2006 12:00 AM

How appropriate that the ailing Fidel Castro managed to intrude upon a fairly heavy news cycle, since the numerous power outages and rolling blackouts caused by the current heat wave have left so many American cities resembling Havana.

The Cuban capital has for years been notorious for routinely shutting off its residents' electricity, leaving them to sweat out the brutal Caribbean heat. Americans from coast to coast recently received a taste of that Castro legacy as temperatures soared to record highs, straining utilities and electricity distribution systems. The loss of power and air conditioning is being blamed for upward of 200 deaths nationwide. No city has suffered in quite the way Gotham has, where more than 100,000 residents suffered a complete loss of power -- some for nearly two weeks.

While the differences between the supremely wealthy United States and impoverished Cuba appear manifest, what's surprising is that politicians' prescriptions for dealing with the current crises differ little from what Cubans have been hearing for years: Use less. Do without. There's not enough power for everybody, and our grid would have trouble handling it if there were.

We call it "conservation." Leaders like President Bush and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have called for emergency conservation measures, urging consumers and businesses to use less power during peak times to keep the grid from getting overloaded. New York City's Bloomberg Administration suggested cutting back on the AC, dressing lightly, and drinking lots of fluids.

Certainly the wasteful use of energy should be minimized. But in terms of concrete strategies to achieve this, our policymakers are in the dark. Begging consumers to accept a little bit more suffering -- or in the cases of energy-intensive businesses and factories, to limit their economic output -- is about the only thing our leaders can do in a pinch. Plead for help from the citizenry, and hope the people take pity and comply.

But why should they? Why should de facto electricity policy have devolved over time into hoping it doesn't get too hot, but if it does, begging consumers to loosen their collars and stew with patience? It is precisely when temperatures are as high as they have been that consumers must expect their air conditioners to work.

Though the events of recent weeks are tied to broiling temperatures, the crisis is a manufactured one. No, you can't control the weather, but you can anticipate it. Extremely high temperatures in July and August are hardly a secret. It is the responsibility of state and local officials to ensure that there is enough power to meet the most extreme demand, and that the wires are capable of handling that strain.

Unlike Cuba, we have the technological ability to add capacity and generate more power. We have the technological ability to upgrade infrastructure to handle 21st century demand. And we even have the technological know-how to implement rational pricing systems, like real-time pricing, that would curb wasteful energy usage far better than plaintive pleas from pols. What is needed is the political will to overcome the regulatory and NIMBY hurdles.

That's the first requirement for a responsible energy policy. The current approach -- relying on the vagaries of Mother Nature and praying for mild weather -- is a poor excuse for leadership. It didn't work three decades ago when Jimmy Carter implored everyone to turn down the thermostat and wear sweaters in winter. It won't work today when Mayor Bloomberg urges everyone to turn down the AC and wear tank tops to beat the heat.

Max Schulz is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
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86 Comments

It did work
When NYC Mayor Bloomberg asked people to use less energy during a heat wave, people used less energy and blackouts were avoided (not completely, but largely). My workplace in NYC saved lots of energy (and money) by asking people to turn off electrical appliances they were not using (e.g. computers at night).

One approach is to build whatever powerplants and infrastructure are needed to meet any demand. Another is to figure out (with some appeal to public spirit and some to pocketbooks) what that demand really needs to be.

Cuba as role-model
Cuba can actually be seen as a role model for what the evironmentalists and other statists are advocating in the US. They advocate state control of energy and the whole economy, cut backs to primitive third world levels of discomfort, low or now growth rates and socialism instead of capitalism. The results of such policies are clear to see in Cuba, but the 5th column in the States advocates the same.

You missed the point...
We cannot conserve our way out of a lack of generating capacity. Nor can we set demand legislatively or mandate less usage("Another is to figure out what demand really needs to be.") The only rational approach is to ensure that we have the generating and distribution capacity to meet peak demand. This is what the author suggested, and you try to ignore by claiming that coservation works.

Mr. Borders hints at the real problem: that liberals everywhere seem to want to stop any sort of production of energy. Opposition to ANWR is an excellent example. Opposition by "The China Syndrome" fans to nuclear power is another. While they add barrier after barrier to energy production and distribution, liberals also happen to be the first to demand hearings in to why the prices of heating and cooling homes has gone so high and to demand relief for the needy.

Enviro-nuts cannot have it both ways: taxing oil and gas and restricting the extraction of either while demanding that the prices of both be lowered. Similarly, they cannot demand cheap energy while they deny companies the ability to use nuclear energy and force them to use renewable sources before the price is economically reasonable for them to do so.

The same modern economy that generated all of the wealth that made it possible for peoople to worry about the environment in the first place needs energy to work, and we cannot coserve our way to more energy.

Don't forget the best health care in the world...
The real irony of Cuba is that some of the best health care in the world can be found on the island, but it is being given to terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.

A Pat on the Back
Of course it your business was being truly responsible (both in terms of to the environment and their own bottom line) they'd have had the computers turned off at night and wouldn't be wasting the electricity in the first place with all the unnecessary appliances.

LOL - nice one
That was funny sir.

Though a little depressing since it's true.

There is a difference between...
electric consumption and electric demand. Too many people do not understand the difference, but it is critical because electricity cannot currently be stored in large quantities at reasonable cost.

The limitation of the electric generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure is instantaneous demand during peak periods, which typically occur on hot summer days in the mid-to-late afternoon. While turning off computers, lights, copiers, etc. at night will reduce electric consumption overall (and instantaneous demand), it will not reduce peak demand because the reduction occurs off-peak.

Conservation during peak periods can alleviate a short term demand spike. Increasing building temperature set points, reducing lighting levels, shutting off excess copiers, fax machines, etc. during working hours fit in this category. The problem with conservation such as this is that it is not durable. (How many people are still wearing sweaters around the house or in the office during the winter?)

Increased efficiency can reduce peak demand for the life of the more efficient device. More efficient air conditioners, lighting, equipment, etc. fit into this category.

However, US population is increasing. The rate of increase in electric demand is approximately equal to the rate of increase in population. The increased application of high efficiency equipment is not offsetting the rate of population growth. Therefore, electric demand is increasing. This increase in demand is only a reliability issue during peak periods.

One of the state regulatory commission approaches to dealing with electric restructuring has been price caps, in the face of rising primary energy costs. This has starved many utilities, including ConEd, for maintenance and upgrade capital. The result is reduced maintenance and upgrading and marginal system issues during peak periods. The problem can be solved, but not for free and not this week, or even this month.

missing the point, as usual
The point was that people should not be forced to sacrifice because the politicians won't let us build enough power plants.

Regarding your examples, I'd love to know how turning off computers at night helps to avoid blackouts during the day.

interesting numbers in this regard from WHO
Really obvious how much better U.S. care is tha Cubas, eh?

U.S.
Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 75.0/80.0

Healthy life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2002): 67.2/71.3

Child mortality m/f (per 1000): 8/7

Adult mortality m/f (per 1000): 137/81

Cuba:
Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): 75.0/80.0

Healthy life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2002): 67.1/69.5

Child mortality m/f (per 1000): 8/7

Adult mortality m/f (per 1000): 131/85

Low calory diet
Sure, Gulliver. Starving rats live longer... if that could be called "life".

Come on, do you still believe in fairy tales?

The statistics are from the WHO
And they repeat what other studies have found.

If you have others and can show that these are incorrect, please feel free to bring them.

Note that the Cuban (and U.S.) numbers aren't that great -- most developed countries do much better.

as many studies have shown, life expectancy and child mortality are worthless for guaging health car
even assuming the numbers aren't faked to begin with.

meaningless numbers
because so many things outside of the health care system affect them.
In addition, there is no internationally agreed standard for defining what constitutes a live birth.

yet another study that shows why you can't use these statistics
www.nationalcenter.org/NPA547ComparativeHealth.html

Not that eric cares.

Go tell the WHO about this
I'm sure it's just another conspiracy to make the U.S. look bad.
And life expectancy -- maybe you think there's no internationally agreed on standard for what constitutes a death.

What studies are those?
Please provide your citation.

The study offers more evidence U.S. health care is mediocre
regarding the infant mortality:

"Inconsistent measurement explains only part of the difference between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Were measurements to be standardized, according to Eberstadt, "America might move from the bottom third toward the middle, but it would be unlikely to advance into the top half."

Is this something to be proud of?

Regarding life expectancy:

"A good deal of the lower life expectancy rate in the U.S. is accounted for by the difference in life expectancy of African-Americans versus other populations in the United States. Life expectancy for African-Americans is about 72.3 years, while for whites it is about 77.7 years."

Is this something to be proud of? Or perhaps we want to pull out statistics for life expectancy for Afro-americans v. Afro-Cubans. Is anyone going to guess that Afro-Americans will come better.

read what I wrote little man
I said there was not standard for live birth.
I said that there were many things not associated with health care that affects life expactancies.

provided, not that you'll actually read them.
...

reality
re: child mortality
That was just one of the many discrepancies.

re: life expectancy
If blacks like shooting each other, that's their problem.

denial and naked bigotry
> re: child mortality
That was just one of the many discrepancies.

No, it was not. What the quote said was that even if you adjusted the U.S. child mortality data to talke into account all the known discrepancies, you were still left with mediocre U.S. performance.

>e: life expectancy
If blacks like shooting each other, that's their problem.

so they're better off in Cuba? And this is something the U.S. as a country should be proud of?

Thank you
You did provide a link. This is progress for you

I comment on it below.

Again, tell the WHO, big guy.
They'll be very surprised to learn that their statistics, widely used around the world and in the U.S. are meaningless.

reality and reality
something you have never learned how to deal with.

It did work?
And how many elderly and infirm died in the recen heat storms from your solution to America's energy needs? Think about it, LG. Your solution killed hundreds of the most vulnerable.

back to zero
Our of arguments again. why not start namecalling?

Why the WHO data is meaningless...
Where do they get their data?

They ask the governments of the countries for which they want data.

I would not be surprised if residents of the USSR lived to the average ripe old age of 125 thanks to the "miracle of Soviet medicine!" North Koreans probably live to be 500 thanks to the good graces of their supreme leader Kim Jong-Il.

The WHO does not audit every death reported in the world, they just gather the data they are given, whether it is true or not. Given that communist dictators have a habit of lying, I would take these numbers with a grain of salt. Okay, maybe a block of salt...

Then look at the CIA factbook
Maybe you think the CIA has an interest in making the Cuban numbers look good, and the American ones look bd.

Cuba:
infant mortality
total: 6.22 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.99 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.41 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:

life expectancy
total population: 77.41 years
male: 75.11 years
female: 79.85 years (2006 est.)
https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/cu.html#People

US:
infant mortality
otal: 6.43 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.09 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.74 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

life expectancy:
total population: 77.85 years
male: 75.02 years
female: 80.82 years (2006 est.)
https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/us.html#People

(for another comparison):
Germany
Infant mortality rate:
total: 4.12 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.56 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.66 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
...

Was the CIA searching through Cuban records?
I'm glad that the Beard got over that whole "Bay of Pigs" thing, and has warmed to us so much that he would actually allow the CIA to verify the death records that Castro reported.

Large-scale demographic data gathered by communists is not reliable. They consistently lie and toy with data for the express purpose of decieving outsiders.

Ask yourself a question:

Is a dirt-poor island nation where the power is only on for a few hours a day, where the newest car is a 1961 VW Bug, and where sanitation and other forms of infrastructure are rundown or non-existent, capable of producing numbers even close to the
US?

So: you know more about this than the CIA?
So your idea is that the CIA is totally credulous, has no sources of information, and doesn't know how to gather data?

as to your question:

>Is a dirt-poor island nation where the power is only on for a few hours a day, where the newest car is a 1961 VW Bug, and where sanitation and other forms of infrastructure are rundown or non-existent, capable of producing numbers even close to the
US?

the answer is yes, according to the best available information from the Central Intelligence Agency and World Health Organization. One reason is they have lots and lots of doctors. You might ask yourself what this says about the U.S. health care system.

CIA credibility
So now that you guys decided the CIA was absolutely and totally wrong about Iraqui WMD's, you suddenly decide their intelligence about Cuban healthcare is perfect?

I would ask exactly what the hell is the CIA doing worrying about healthcare in ANY other country, and what exactly is their expertise in asessing it?

Its not their mission, or it shouldn't be.

bad data, regardless of why it was gathered, is still bad data
...

CIA fact book
The CIA had the Soviet economy roaring along, just as it collapsed.

The CIA fact book has never been very accurate when it comes to communist countries.

funny, when it comes to Iraq, the CIA is full of it, but they are gospel in regards to Cuba
eric's standards are nothing, if not flexible.

namecalling is your specialty, I wouldn't dare intrude.
...

Beyond the previous comment...
this entire comment train has "gone off the tracks".

If you have other numbers, bring 'em
Or do you think the CIA is covering up or lying for the Cubans?

so, CIA: wrong. WHO: wrong.
So where are your numbers?

>So now that you guys decided the CIA was absolutely and totally wrong about Iraqui WMD's, you suddenly decide their intelligence about Cuban healthcare is perfect?

The problem with the WMDs was the facts were being twisted to make political points. Do you really think the CIA is trying to make the Cubans look good.




and you have no data
but you want to believe something, so it's so

nice diversion there.
All I've done is point out that the CIA has been wrong in the past. I've also pointed out that you are a frequent critic of the CIA.

I find it very odd that you are now putting forth the CIA as an unquestionable expert, now that you like the numbers they are putting forth.

eric's fact free fantasies
There is no evidence that the CIA evidence was deliberately falsified regarding Iraq.

Regarding Cuba, the CIA has a long history of over estimating the capablilities of communist countries.
Is this done to make the communists look good?
Perhaps. If the CIA made the communists look as weak as they actually were, there would be less need for a large CIA.

I've shown why it's bad
you want desperately to believe that govt is capable of delivering health care. So you ignore any info that upsets your precious world view.

This was hardly the only difference
Then we can get into the many ways that govt makes US health care more expensive than it has to be.

I gave two sources, you've given none
But you're sure you're right.

No, you haven't
You've made some claims, which can't be backed up.

>you want desperately to believe that govt is capable of delivering health care. So you ignore any info that upsets your precious world view.

Sorry, it's you who want desperately to believe something and are ignroing facts. As far as govenrment delivering health care -- it does all over the world, not just in Cuba, but very successfully in many places like Germany or Sweden. Or maybe you think every country in the world is faking is health care numbers just to make the U.S. look bad.

you've given nothing, except your mindless opinions
...

we've been over this ground many times
eric just doesn't care. Data that backs his opinion may not be questioned.

I've shown how Germany and Sweden use differing definitions of what constitute live births, and how the many differing social and economic differences between all of the countries, and how they affect all of the statistics being gathered.

eric as usual doesn't care. He wants to pretend that these two minor statistics are the gold standard in how health care is to be judged.

Figures collected by the CIA and WHO are not "mindless opinions."
but do some more namecalling.

You've "shown" nothing
You offered a partisan site that, after going over the issue, concluded that differences in record keeping can't explain the gap between U.S. and other industrialized nationized nations infant mortality figures.

Your explanation for bad life expectancy numbers if we have a lot of black who shoot each other.

>e wants to pretend that these two minor statistics are the gold standard in how health care is to be judged.

Stop namecalling and misrepresenting. The fact is, these are universally accepted as measures, among other measures. And the U.S. doesn't do well on them.

Ah yes -- Cuba is a threat because of low infant mortality
This is just silliy

>Perhaps. If the CIA made the communists look as weak as they actually were, there would be less need for a large CIA.

So the CIA is propping up the Cubans to keep the money coming in. Thanks for sharing, Mark.

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