There is NO skills gap…

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As evidence accumulates that many of the policy decisions of the past that benefited particular business interests are shown to be false or harmful, a resilient farce is the idea that workers lack the skills needed by industry and thus we must look to other countries to supply the needed talent.  If this argument could hold water, then the skilled would enjoy full employment and the unskilled would suffer from high rates of unemployment.  Here we have a partial truth at work… the educated enjoy a lower rate of unemployment than those of lesser education yet there is still significant numbers of educated people that remain unemployed, not to mention under-employed.  While the unemployment rate for the less educated is double that of those that have a bachelor’s degree or higher, recent petitions to increase H-1B visas limits implies that the supply of workers is insufficient to meet the demand of industry.  However, a story by Martin Kaste from NPR notes that the H-1B visas are granted not to cutting edge tech giants… but to consultancies aimed at temp workers and project consultancies.  The result of review H-1B visas by sector is that hiring is NOT to fill permanent skill needs, but to replace higher priced American workers through temporary assignments.

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20 to 1 and Concentrated Production Opportunities

The NY Times reports the White House is advancing plans to regulate methane emissions.

With two primary sources of methane being oil & gas production and cattle operations there is a significant opportunity to curtail emissions by focusing on this ‘low hanging fruit.’ Couple this focus with the fact that capturing methane is useful for energy generation and other products the benefits are multiplied beyond doing ‘the good.’

Additionally the fact that 1 unit of methane is equivalent to 20 units of carbon dioxide only serves to amplify the incentive to assist dairy farms with financing and installations of methane capturing technology, as well as strict regulations for petroleum production to install and maintain an ‘airtight’ infrastructure to extract and transport.

 

A Progressive Future In the Context of Conflict

Friedman’s view of a new/old adversary might just compel the U.S. to take the high road… a focus on technological AND moral leadership.  If done properly… the ripple effect might mitigate some of the harms that an unchecked globalization has unleashed.

Here’s to the moral high road… and embracing a future of education, technology, and innovation.  A moon shot triumvirate the U.S. neglected in the years since the Cold War.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/19/opinion/friedman-from-putin-a-blessing-in-disguise.html?src=rechp&_r=0

Tipping Point: Deflating the Carbon Bubble

‘Tech Bubble’… ‘Housing Bubble’… and from the fringes of the media narrative, but well within the discussions of those following sustainability and renewable energy sectors is the ‘Carbon Bubble.’

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The Carbon Bubble is, broadly construed, a view based upon the financial premise that the pricing of a stock or commodity is reflective of its value to humankind.  However, such a general premise of pricing doesn’t provide all that much insight, but serves as a starting point.  Therefore, the next step is to offer that pricing is at least reflective of the inputs necessary to deliver the output… but that only follows if the product is in a stable market of demand.  The cost to produce an obsolete piece of technology likely exceeds what consumers are willing to pay, thus a view that the price is reflective of inputs + profit is only contingently true.  For example, to build a new Betamax video player is unlikely to deliver you a sale that will recoup your costs… if you can find a buyer at all.  Granted, you might find a single buyer for a vintage piece of technology, but unlikely enough that you could build a business off of building more Betamax players.

However, when demand is high and “the market” reflects stable or a future of increasing demand, then there is upward pressure on the net present value of the future cash flows of the product or firm share price.  So far so good…

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Sustainability Moral Credits: Atmosphere to Oceans

Increasing carbon and methane concentrations in the atmosphere are bad news, but so are other problems such as acidification of the oceans and discarded plastics.  Practically, environmentally minded businesses aim to reduce their carbon footprint and eliminate negative externalities, such as waste and pollution.

As much as “innovation” is a buzzword that tends to compel idealistic visions of new businesses, riches, and opportunities it is the more systematic approaches to business models and their value chain that yield novel new solutions.  Heron invented a steam engine in the common era first century , but it was not until 1690 that the novelty of capturing and focusing the power of steam was applied to supplant base human power.  As a result, we have the distinction between pure or abstract science and the applied.  It would be erroneous, or motivated thinking, to simply conclude that innovation comes as a result of “businesses innovating” as though it were something that simply materializes out of thin air.  However, business does play a contributing and applied role in utilizing the pure and abstract.

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NY Times Economix: Distributed Energy & Continuity

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Excellent short piece on the transition to economics driven momentum in solar power.  Previous arguments that argued solar was too expensive or too insignificant to address energy needs are now vacuous.  A 60% price drop since just 2011 is driving short cost recapture, such that solar is spreading even without generous government subsidies.

While fossil fuels still retain generous tax incentives that dwarf renewables, momentum is shifting and continuing these transfers remains unconscionable.

What is left out of the piece is the continuity aspect.  Concentrated power production relies upon an antiquated and inefficient power grid… while distributed power generation, namely rooftop solar in this case, reduces loss from transmission.  Over consumption or equipment failure of a key transmission component does not result in a loss of power for others, thereby distributed energy is good for “national security” or continuity reasons as well.  Furthermore, if a homeowner has solar generating panels, then it follows that they are much more likely to be conscious of their individual consumption and take steps to limit use.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/the-red-faces-of-the-solar-skeptics/?_php=true&_type=blogs&src=rechp&_r=0