Why do the idiots want to do this?

Your editorial (9 June) rightly calls for the post-coronavirus economy to be rebuilt in a fairer, labour-intensive and environmentally sustainable way.

Why more labour intensive?

Jobs are, after all, a cost….

48 thoughts on “Why do the idiots want to do this?”

  1. There’s nothing more equitable and environmentally-friendly than slaving away over a patch of mud, eating roots and dung, before returning to Gaia – possibly via the stomachs of your starving relatives – in your mid-30s.

    Sadly, not everyone is cut out for this life and we will need willing and wise people to run the National Dung Service and other essential services.

  2. I suspect that the concept of ‘labour intensive’ held by the sort of people who demand it have not done a days hard physical graft in their lives. Their idea of work is middle class people sat in offices doing bugger all other than attend meetings and getting paid handsomely for it. They just think that being more labour intensive means more of that.

  3. Aaaaaand today we’re back to “how do we pay for the recovery” again. More flips than a Chinese acrobat.

  4. Jobs are a cost, but they aren’t the only cost.

    In the hypothetical example of 2 cycle couriers replacing 1 courier in a car, more labour is being used, but other costs, such as fuel use, are reduced. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one and assume that “labour-intensive” is being used as a ham-fisted way of saying “less fossil fuel intensive.”

  5. @Paul, how about an autonomous electric vehicle, working algorithmically efficient routes 24/7?

    This would probably making delivery cheaper and lessen the need to make personal journeys to save costs, which is the counterbalance to a more expensive delivery method in that people might do their own collection leading to less efficiency and greater emissions?

    You are correct, though, this is all about eco-fanatics forcing their “green” choices even though they may not be that “green”.

    The EV market is shifting towards hybrids again, with non-plug-in hybrids being popular, the eventual outcome will be an EV with a small battery mainly powered by an on board conventional fossil fuel powered generator, which is surprisingly one of the most fuel efficient methods, but whilst the green lobby are transfixed on nothing less than replacing the ICE entirely and having batteries (which is pretty much dead-end tech at the moment), this technology is overlooked and in some cases “banned” (but is creeping in anyway).

    The line of thinking about “labour intensive” is the assumption this will always be more efficient, and hardly ever is the case (see T. Worstall ad nauseum regarding cost=efficiency arguments)

  6. Hybrids offer little if any improvement in fuel-efficiency over a modern, conventional ICE. Plug-in hybrids allow you to undertake shortish journeys (which for the majority of drivers constitute the majority of their travel) on electric power, without all the issues of range anxiety plus building, lugging around and the disposing of a huge, expensive battery pack.

  7. @Runcie Balspune: “@Paul, how about an autonomous electric vehicle, working algorithmically efficient routes 24/7?”

    It’s no different to my example. It is reducing labour, but increasing fossil fuel usage.

  8. Chris Miller said:
    “Plug-in hybrids allow you to undertake shortish journeys (which for the majority of drivers constitute the majority of their travel) on electric power”

    What’s “shortish”, roughly?

  9. The problem with hybrids seems to be the duplication.

    You’re constantly lugging around something that’s not needed, either an engine when you’re on electric, or the larger battery when running off the engine.

    Also with many hybrids you’ve got two drivechains, from the engine and the electric motors. Some just have electric motors and use the engine purely to charge the batteries, but there’s inefficiencies from that as well.

    I can see there’s an advantage in moving emissions out of cities to the power station, but I’m surprised that hybrid cars are actually more efficient, once you add in the electricity generation (which, in reality in the UK, is gas-powered) and the extra weight of having a petrol engine, large batteries and electric motors.

  10. Well, personally I am looking forward to all of these Marketing, HR people, media people etc digging ditches with a shovel, or walking behind two Oxen pulling a plough.

  11. It can already be demonstrated that using the fuel in a generator to charge a battery for an EV is more efficient than using the same amount of fuel to directly power a ICE powered vehicle. After all an ICE generator is taking the same advantage of decades of technological innovation to make it as efficient as possible, but to generate electricity instead of proving torque.

    Put the much smaller (and lighter) ICE generator in the vehicle, you lose the drivetrain and gearbox completely (the motor will be next to, or part of, the wheel), and you have a smaller battery. Weight savings all round, even more efficiency.

    Later on you can replace the ICE with another generator, Mr Fusion perhaps!

    But whilst the green lobby is transfixed on removing the ICE all costs, this will probably never get to market, even though the tech is available right now.

    It’s no different to my example. It is reducing labour, but increasing fossil fuel usage.

    You get reduced fossil fuel usage because the delivery vehicle is more efficient in its route, it works longer hours, and the reduced delivery cost means people will adopt the delivery rather than inefficiently do it themselves.

  12. @Runcie Balspune: “You get reduced fossil fuel usage because the delivery vehicle is more efficient in its route, it works longer hours…”

    No, you don’t. Peripheral efficiencies don’t change the fundamental point that the cycle courier will inherently be using less fossil fuel than the fossil fuel powered vehicle.

  13. Paul–and enough coolies replace a crane say.

    Be sure you will be the coolie and I the club-wielding foreman if that kind of eco-shite is what you really want. To solve a non-existent problem=a pile of lying Marxist shite.

    Some twat(s) on bike(s) are easily knocked of and their cargo stolen . Much more difficult with a car/driver.

  14. Bloke in cornwall

    @Paul,

    So where do the emissions for the extra farm machines come in? As more people doing exercise = more calories burnt = more food…

    Or are we having to cycle around and then also grow our own food? I would love that many hours in a day!

    Automation is better than humans doing it or we wouldn’t have washing machines, boilers, mains water or a million other things…

  15. Spud has published a new paper on some obscure website. The abstract begins….

    “‘Reglobalization’ requires global governance mechanisms that can promote norm and normative change constitutive of a ‘post-neoliberal order’.”

    Sounds riveting. Luckily it’s hidden behind a paywall.

  16. @Mr Ecks – I would respond to your point, if you had one.

    @Bloke in cornwall: “Automation is better than humans doing it or we wouldn’t have washing machines, boilers, mains water or a million other things…”

    No, automation CAN be better than humans performing a task. It doesn’t mean it always is, particularly when externalities become a factor.

  17. Runcie Balspune said:
    “It can already be demonstrated that using the fuel in a generator to charge a battery for an EV is more efficient than using the same amount of fuel to directly power a ICE powered vehicle. After all an ICE generator is taking the same advantage of decades of technological innovation to make it as efficient as possible, but to generate electricity instead of proving torque.”

    But the engine-powered car is also benefiting from those technological improvements (and probably better, because much of the research has been for cars). And both need to produce the same power at the rubber-tarmac interface, so it isn’t about “generate electricity instead of proving torque” – it’s just an indirect way of applying the same torque.

  18. Runcie Balspune said:
    “you lose the drivetrain and gearbox completely”

    As I said, in many (most?) hybrids you don’t – a lot of them have direct drive by the petrol engine as well as electric motors. Hence the duplication that makes me surprised that they are more efficient.

  19. “Jobs are a cost, but they aren’t the only cost.”

    Well, yes, but the point is more that people have this idea that creating jobs, in an of itself is a good thing.

    Incidentally, the benefit of cycle couriers isn’t about fuel, it’s about time. In congested cities they move about as fast as a car and can park right outside the collection and drop-off points.

  20. Runcie Balspune said:
    “the much smaller (and lighter) ICE generator”

    Again, why is the generator in a hybrid smaller than the petrol engine needed in a normal car with the same performance (because otherwise you’re not comparing like for like)?

    Where is the efficiency coming from to allow a petrol engine to produce more power at the wheels when it’s coupled to a generator powering an electric motor than it would be if it powered the wheels directly? And it needs enough efficiencies to cover the extra weight and cost of the generator and batteries (smaller batteries than a full electric car, but more than a normal car battery).

  21. Variability. Much – OK, some – of the weight and complexity of an ICE is to allow it to rev up and down. One that’s charging a battery can run at constant speed.

  22. Bloke on M4: “Well, yes, but the point is more that people have this idea that creating jobs, in an of itself is a good thing.”

    My point was that there are people who have the reverse idea that creating jobs is in and of itself a bad thing, even if those jobs could be displacing other costs.

    “Incidentally, the benefit of cycle couriers isn’t about fuel, it’s about time.”

    They are both benefits, but, for me, the bigger issue from the point of view of this discussion is fuel. The time issue will get built in through market forces, but the externalities won’t. However, your point does highlight that reducing the labour used in a process doesn’t inherently make it better.

  23. Bloke on M4 said:
    “Incidentally, the benefit of cycle couriers isn’t about fuel, it’s about time. In congested cities they move about as fast as a car and can park right outside the collection and drop-off points.”

    True, but they can’t carry as much, so they need to return to base to reload more often (assuming they’re carrying parcels, not just letters). Depending on the size of parcel you could need several bicycle couriers to replace one van, before you get any net time savings.

    If each parcel requires a round trip of its own, and even if both do the same speed, then in the time the bicycle has make two deliveries (4 one-way trips) the van could have done the round for several.
    – If the delivery sites and depot are all equidistant, then the van could have done three drop-offs in that time (depot to site 1, site 1 to site 2, site 2 to site 3, site 3 to depot, 4 journeys, while the bike does 4 journeys just to go depot to site 1, site 1 to depot, depot to site 2, site 2 to depot).
    – if the distance between the delivery sites is small compared to the distance between the depot and the delivery sites, then the van will do proportionately even more. Plus the van will benefit from smart routing, which the bicycle can’t if it can only carry one parcel at a time.

  24. bloke in cornwall

    @Paul I can’t think of many outcomes that aren’t improved if you removed the human from the equation… it really depends on actually looking at the problem to be solved, not how to automate an existing human process. If you look at any current process and see what the actual desired outcome is then start from a blank page you will get a better process if there is no human involved. Most complexities of (and therefore failures with) automation come from the hand over between humans and machines.

  25. @bloke in cornwall: “If you look at any current process and see what the actual desired outcome is then start from a blank page you will get a better process if there is no human involved.”

    Explain to me how that works with sex. As it’s known as the oldest profession, how do you make prostitution better for the buyer by removing the human seller from the equation?

  26. Paul: Non sequitur.

    RichardT: The benefit of hybrid is that most of the time the vehicle is running well, well below its power peak, so a small ICE does the business even if it’s only driving a generator. The battery gives you the extra power to accelerate when necessary. Also, modern hybrids use Atkinson Cycle engines – the Toyota Prius has had this since it was introduced. They are considerably more efficient than the Otto cycle but not really useful without the extra power from the battery for acceleration.

  27. bloke in cornwall

    @Paul, Sex is not an outcome and you clearly missed my point about outcomes – a baby or an endorphin rush are the possible outcomes of sex.

    If you’re going for reproduction, farming has shown that artificial insemination is better and a lot of that is automated now (and they are looking at ways to automate it further).

    If you’re going for pleasure then i hate to tell you but sex dolls / robots will replace humans a lot (look at japan’s issue with 20 – 30 year old males not wanting relationships and preferring robots / toys).

    Again – give an **OUTCOME** that cannot be improved by removing the human element…

  28. bloke in cornwall: “If you’re going for pleasure then i hate to tell you but sex dolls / robots will replace humans a lot”

    Well, you haven’t provided any useful insight about economics, but I certainly understand you a lot better.

  29. Bloke in cornwall

    @Paul – you haven’t provided any useful insight into anything… You asked a question, I provided an answer, you asked another question, I provided an answer, you change the subject… You stated that automation is not better and have failed to prove it.

    As for learning about me, I don’t have any plans to buy a robot or similar, just telling you what I read / see in the world. The only thing you have possibly learnt is I actually reply to questions. I have learnt that you don’t.

  30. Bloke in cornwall: “You stated that automation is not better and have failed to prove it.”

    Another straw man. I have not stated that automation is not better. I have stated that the wild generalization that automation always results in a better outcome is not justified.

    I don’t disagree that reducing human involvement can improve outcomes in many cases. This thread is a prime example. I would not dispute that, had you not got involved in it, the outcome would have been much better.

    I simply rejected, as any sensible person would, the idea that automation inherently creates better outcomes. I also reject your reversed burden of proof. You’re the one stating an absolute. The onus is on you to prove it. You haven’t.

  31. Bloke in cornwall

    @Paul, I have provided a point of view and asked you to come up with an example as you state I am wrong. You have failed to provide an example and I am still wrong? This isn’t “Russells teapot” we can actually think this through and find an outcome either way… You’re not proving a negative, your proving a positive to your assertion.

    Also, as you’ve got to the “it would have been better with out you” comments you must have run out of facts – again, this is a commonly known and studied way of admitting your wrong without ever thinking you are.

    I am always happy to learn new things and be proven wrong but someone saying I’m wrong and failing to provide any evidence isn’t going to cut the mustard.

  32. Bloke in cornwall: “This is a commonly known and studied way of admitting your wrong without ever thinking you are”

    It’s “you’re wrong.” Which you are.

    To prove your assertion wrong is trivial. People have been killed by self-driving cars in circumstances where it is highly unlikely that a car driven by a person would have crashed. For those people, the outcome was not better.

    In the grown-up world, the onus is on the person making the claim to prove it. You can continue to wild generalizations and then demand that people either disprove it or accept it as true, but it will just get you ridiculed by people with any intellect.

  33. Bloke in cornwall

    @Paul, OK, self driving cars – accidents per mile driven is lower than humans. We don’t yet have fully automated cars so can’t do a full comparison but again you’ve ignored my original assertion – take a given OUTCOME and start from scratch and fully automate it.

    Driving a car is not an OUTCOME – I’ve put it in capitals twice as you really do seem to struggle with this idea.

    The outcome of driving may be getting to work, or collecting shopping but again those are not true outcomes. The outcome of work is to get money, but that is only so we can get nice things to make us happy so the outcome is not earning money, its having nice things… Are you getting this yet?

    If we start from scratch with any of the outcomes of why we use cars I very much doubt we very much doubt we would design a car and roads…

  34. Bloke in cornwall

    @Paul, also, if it’s so trivial to prove me wrong how come you’ve failed twice? Sorry about the your / you’re thing – a typo that much have made it almost impossible for you to understand me. I’ll try harder next time and give myself a D-.

  35. +1 to BiC. It can be boring trying to discuss things with determined contrarians, whose only gambit is just to disagree with everything you say

  36. @RichardT
    What’s “shortish”, roughly?

    Typically about 30 miles/ 50 km (nominal), in practice in the hilly Chilterns more like 20 miles. I do 90% of my trips almost entirely on electric, but only about half my total mileage. (Although under lockdown I haven’t used any petrol for three months – in fact I’m doing a pleasure jaunt tomorrow, just so the car doesn’t start complaining that the fuel may be getting stale.)

    Manufacturers could easily extend this by putting in a bigger battery, but that adds to weight and cost and recharge time – and they’ve done a lot of research into our driving habits that tells them ~30 miles (equivalent to a 10-15 kWh battery) is the sweet spot.

    So anyone thinking of buying a plug-in hybrid, my best free advice is to know your driving patterns. If you’re pulling a 50 mile each way daily commute (or 50 mile round trip with no opportunity to recharge at one end), it probably won’t work for you.

  37. ”‘Reglobalization’ requires global governance mechanisms that can promote norm and normative change constitutive of a ‘post-neoliberal order’.”

    Langue de bois par excellence. The Fat Tuber wading even deeper into to swamp of Wackademia in search of that professorship, perhaps?

  38. “Again, why is the generator in a hybrid smaller than the petrol engine needed in a normal car with the same performance (because otherwise you’re not comparing like for like)?”
    Tim pretty well nails it with “Variability. Much – OK, some – of the weight and complexity of an ICE is to allow it to rev up and down. One that’s charging a battery can run at constant speed.”
    Any ICE will have a sweet spot of RPM\torque load where it’s most efficient. Depart very far from it & efficiency drops dramatically. It’s the reason cars have gearboxes. It’s also the reason I found a 3.3 litre automatic used less fuel/mile than a 1.5 litre manual driving around Central London, despite being a ton heavier. The combination of bags of low down torque and an engine management system selecting the most appropriate gear ratio kept the engine closer to that sweet spot in the sort of stop/start motoring it was doing.
    A hybrid with an electric drive train has the ICE constantly running at the sweet spot, charging the battery, whilst the batter can deliver the high torque necessary for acceleration. If you add regenerative braking, you’re also recovering the energy of deceleration rather than dumping it as heat via the brake pads.
    Whether a hybrid is overall more efficient depends on the sort of driving you’re doing. When I had one on hire for a couple months, it was definitely using less fuel for city driving & for the sort hairpin bend, up/down & around I do in the mountains. For long distance cruise on the French & Spanish autoroutes, probably less efficient. There’s some energy being lost in converting the rotary power of the ICE into electrical rather than delivering it straight to the wheels.
    Would I buy one? No. Although a plug-in might tempt me if I wasn’t like 50% of car owners – without anywhere to plug in. There’s nowhere near enough efficiency savings to cover the additional cost of buying into the system. I’d also like to know what sort of speeding fines these things rack up. The sort of instant acceleration electric drive trains deliver can be overwhelmingly tempting to abuse.

  39. Driving a car is not an OUTCOME – I’ve put it in capitals twice as you really do seem to struggle with this idea.

    The outcome of driving may be getting to work, or collecting shopping but again those are not true outcomes

    How is driving definitely not an outcome?
    I sometimes go for a drive, just for the enjoyment of driving.

    How is automating the driving process going to improve that? Automating the process removes it. That is not going to help my enjoyment of it – which it could be argued is the desired outcome.

    The same applies to any hobby or skill, wherein actually being able to perform an action yourself is the desired outcome.

    Want to have an outcome of being able to play Beethoven’s Fur Elise?
    Sure, you can automate and have the piano do it. Automate further and put it on MP3.
    One outcome is that playing the music is more efficient. However, the desired outcome of actually having the skill to play it has not been achieved.

  40. Bloke in cornwall

    @Chernyy_Drakon driving the car is not the outcome, neither is playing beethoven. The outcome is the smile on your face from the car drive (I have too many cars as I love driving). Can I get this in other ways? Yes I can, if I started with the outcome of wanting a smile on my face would I invent a car? No. I might invent a roller-coaster (better when automated and not having humans override the safety controls!) but the modern car would not be the outcome.

    With playing music, again, the desired outcome is not being able to play that one song – I’m not sure of your personal reason but it could be for the sense of achievement (there are many ways to get this), it could be so you can boast about being able to play it (again, many ways to boast about things).

    I get that things are enjoyable in and of themselves, I have a car that is purely a weekend fun car but it’s not an outcome of it’s own right. It is one of many routes to enjoyment and can be replaced many times over with other things.

    Also on the car thing, do you manually pour in the petrol and turn the engine by hand or is it more fun to let automation do those? How about turning on break lights when you press the peddle (or would you prefer to connect two wires together and at the same time as grabbing the wheel by hand to slow down?)

  41. Maybe I wasn’t clear.
    If the learning of the process/skill yourself is the desired outcome, for whatever reason, automating the process out of it does not facilitate the outcome – the desired outcome has been removed by the automation.
    Therefore, your (paraphrased) contention that automation can make any process more efficient is wrong.

    Your original point was
    give an **OUTCOME** that cannot be improved by removing the human element…

    Simply put – any process where the human element is at least part of the outcome.

  42. CD

    “Therefore, your (paraphrased) contention that automation can make any process more efficient is wrong.”

    From the rest of your comment, you clearly mean “improve”. Whatever the argument above wrt “efficiency”, “improvement” has a clear qualitative element, and which makes your point perfectly.

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