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SOMEHOW, I THINK THIS ROBERT HEINLEIN QUOTE IS WORTH REPEATING ONE MORE TIME:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

You know?

FEDEX FOUNDER: I Couldn’t Start Company with Today’s Economy, Regulations.

Last month, a CNBC headlined noted, “Subway ‘Wouldn’t Exist’ If Started Today Due to Regulations: Founder Deluca.”

In 2011, Bernie Marcus said the same about Home Depot, which he founded.

Or to put it another way:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

“Or as some would say: ‘You didn’t build that,’” Glenn added last year when he quoted Robert Heinlein.

THE ITALIAN JUSTICE SYSTEM HAS NOT BEEN COVERING ITSELF WITH GLORY LATELY: Italian scientists convicted over earthquake warning.

This calls into mind Robert Heinlein:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

This has created a lot of incentives for scientists to leave Italy and to avoid giving any sort of earthquake advice to the Italian government. I predict a run of bad luck.

READER KEVIN MANLEY SENDS THIS ON Ted Sturgeon and the generosity of Robert Heinlein.

Only idiots — which is to say the vast majority of the press and a smaller, but still significant number of the electorate — think that a belief in self-reliance forecloses a spirit of generosity.

Meanwhile, with the election looming, it’s worth revisiting this Heinlein quote:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Or as some would say: “You didn’t build that.”

UPDATE: Several readers note Heinlein’s generosity to Philip K. Dick:

Several years ago, when I was ill, Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him—one of the few true gentlemen in this world. I don’t agree with any ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn’t raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me. I think a great deal of him and his wife; I dedicated a book to them in appreciation. Robert Heinlein is a fine-looking man, very impressive and very military in stance; you can tell he has a military background, even to the haircut. He knows I’m a flipped-out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love.

As I said, the notion that a belief in self-reliance cannot coexist with a spirit of generosity is crap. In fact, one is far less likely to find a spirit of generosity among the advocates of governmentally-required “compassion.”

THE HILL: ‘You didn’t build that’ remarks won’t change Obama’s strategy. Good.

Meanwhile, Reader Curtis McGirt writes:

I think it’s time to resurrect the Heinlein quote just for a little perspective here:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Yes, it was clear from the beginning that the Obama Administration would be full of this kind of bad luck, and they have not failed to deliver.

SOMEHOW, I THINK THIS ROBERT HEINLEIN QUOTE IS WORTH REPEATING ONE MORE TIME:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

You know?

BARACK OBAMA MUST BE A ROBERT HEINLEIN FAN! Robert Heinlein:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Barack Obama:

“We had reversed the recession, avoided a depression, gotten the economy moving again,” Obama told a crowd in Decorah, Iowa. “But over the last six months we’ve had a run of bad luck.”

Fan, instantiation, whatever.

SOMEHOW, I THINK THIS ROBERT HEINLEIN QUOTE IS WORTH REPEATING ONE MORE TIME:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

You know?

OUCH: Dow Jones plunges 512 points; but don’t worry, President Obama’s birthday parties unaffected.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Ivers emails: “Having just had a discussion with a close friend on the Left, I truly believe that Obama and probably all of the Left think that 3.5% GDP growth year on year is some sort of natural phenomenon and that no matter what they do it will happen. They then proceeded to trash the things that make that 3.5% growth happen.”

Once again, the Robert Heinlein quote:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

It can’t be repeated enough.

THIS STORY ON HOW THE FUNDAMENTALISTS IN PAKISTAN DROVE OUT THE PEOPLE WHO KNEW HOW TO RUN THINGS reminds me of Robert Heinlein’s dictum, often quoted on this blog and worth repeating once more:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Pakistan has been experiencing bad luck for decades now.

WASHINGTON POST: Economic news is bad for Obama’s reelection bid. “Any notion that President Obama’s reelection campaign was gaining momentum was shaken this week by a string of worrisome economic reports showing weakness in the job market and new lows for housing prices.” Ya think?

UPDATE: Reader John Kluge writes:

You missed the living example of Heinlein in the WAPO story about the economy and Obama you linked to. The Post admits the economy is terrible and that is bad for Obama. But says that it is just bad luck.

“Behind the economic distress is a series of unexpected events, including the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the European debt crisis and rising gasoline prices. As a result of the unemployment rate turning back up and the housing market reaching new lows since the slump began in 2006, numerous economists have reduced their expectations for economic growth this year.”

I can’t help but think of the famous Heinlein quote.

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded- here and there, now and then- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.This is known as ‘bad luck.’.”

Indeed.

UPDATE: Joy McAnn isn’t buying the White House’s excuses, emailing:

Bush also inherited a recession, and on his watch the economy absorbed the aftermath of 9/11, which was a much more direct hit on the U.S. economy than the disaster in Japan.

And if there were anyone in the White House protesting that “rising gas prices” are a hurdle they’ve had to overcome, it would be a classic textbook example of chutzpah, since so much of what they’ve done has encouraged gas prices to go up.

Well, yes. And there’s this: “You can be sure that if a Republican were in the White House and unemployment was at 9.1%, there wouldn’t be any ‘Don’t blame the president’ headlines in the newspapers.”

STEPHEN BALCH: Is Our Civilization A Bubble? “For about the last two hundred years (three in a few locales), the fundamental structure of Western civilization has been anomalous in a crucial way. The anomaly consists in this: whereas in the overwhelming majority of societies the dominant route to wealth and status has been through political control, essentially the use of force or threat of force to extract value from others, in the West it has generally been through exchanges in which the parties have choices, and in which value must be returned for value received if the transaction is to consummate. We’re so conditioned to this, to the fact that our great fortunes belong to entrepreneurs, inventors, magnates, entertainers, and athletes, people who make (or do) things that others want, rather than to royalty, nobility, high priests, mandarins, court favorites and military leaders, people who take in taxes and booty things that others would prefer to keep, that we — very much including historians, journalists, and social commentators of almost every stripe — give little or no thought to it, considering it pretty much the natural order of things. But our exchange-oriented social order does not represent the natural order of things.”

UPDATE: Several readers are reminded of this from Robert Heinlein:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Fitting.

REMINDER: A quote from Robert Heinlein:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Related: Post-tax-increase, the exodus from Illinois begins.

Also: America’s Dying Cities: “In several dozen cities nationwide, the population actually declined significantly as residents presumably began to flee the region’s toxic financial atmosphere, or perhaps in some cases, even held off on having kids due to a lack of resources.”

POST INDEPENDENCE-DAY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: From Robert Heinlein:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

I’m just sayin’.

UPDATE: A bunch of readers email: “Unexpectedly!”

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: From Robert Heinlein:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

I’m just sayin’.

THE INSTAPUNDIT TAKE ON TAXES: With all the talk about spreading the wealth around, let’s revisit this Robert Heinlein quote:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

I’m just, you know, sayin’ . . . . (Bumped).

AUTOBLOG: Obama: 1 million plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2015.

UPDATE: Dave Ivers is unimpressed:

Great. Just great. Where the heck is he going to get all the electricity from? No new nukes. No new coal-fired plants. Certainly no new oil-fired plants. I’m pretty sure we’re not all going to drive to West Texas each night and plug into Boone Pickens’ windmills. I’m near Detroit. Maybe a 1500 mile-long cord from my place to West Texas?

Seriously. Is anybody paying attention to a guy who is beginning to look pretty obviously dumber than the MSM ever claimed Dan Quayle was? What the hell has happened to his ‘handlers’ and ‘policy people’? Can anyone on that campaign staff do elementary math?

Actually, I think the grid could easily absorb a million plugin hybrids, since they’d mostly be charging at night when consumption is way off-peak. But ultimately you’ve got to have lots more nuclear power if you want to switch to even mostly-electric cars and you don’t want to pollute the air, so it’s fair to raise that point.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Gene Smith writes:

As a Californian who pays attention, I can point out 2 more limits on charging cars which do apply at night…

Much of our peak power comes from natural gas which has had price shocks of its own in the last decade. And that gas comes in by pipelines which run near capacity. The local storage rises during the night, and falls during the day. And the inability to keep up with supply needs over a multi day period was on factor in the blackouts/price spikes.

I don’t know to what extent the problem has fixed itself, although I do know there was nimby opposition to new capacity, but a search of:

california natural gas pipeline overnight capacity

on google gets 368,000 hits. And that does not seem to me likely to be spam sites grabbing traffic:)

Reader Chad Irby also thinks I’m too optimistic about the overnight charging:

What will really happen is that people will drive to and from work, then plug their cars in the second they get back to their homes, putting a massive load on the grid between 5 PM and 7 PM. Good night, California.

Unless, of course, someone makes it illegal to do so, which screws people who HAVE to plug in at that time due to shift work, or who need another fifteen miles of charge for errands after work.

It also makes it less possible for the electric companies to take plants offline at night for maintenance, so we get even MORE failures in the system.

This is an argument for more intelligent power-management, something Lynne Kiesling has written about before. Plus, in a pinch, plug-in hybrids, unlike pure electrics, can always charge themselves. And reader David Stine emails:

Professor,

I’m a retired EE.

Long story short: In *some* areas of the US (maybe, oh, Texas and the midwest) the US grid might absorb a million hybrids.

In California or the northeast? No way. Not even at night. There’s serious lack of transmission capacity in the summer months in both regions.

California, especially, has been short of transmission capacity for years.

BTW — plug-in hybrids assume that you have a household power service of 200 amps and that most of that capacity is available (ie, you’re not using it for heating, hot water, cooking, etc). If you’re an apartment dweller, or live in an older home that doesn’t have 200 amp service, you’re basically SOL as far as charging a hybrid or electric car in an overnight scenario and having it fully recharged the next morning.

Many electric car advocates have ignored the transmission infrastructure issues that need to be addressed for widespread deployment of rechargeable cars. Everyone who isn’t an EE keeps flapping their yaps about generation capacity. Generation is simple. Transmission and scheduling of loads is far more challenging than mere generation of power. EE’s are working on ideas for a “smart grid” to allow consumers to match their demands for power with available generation and transmission capacity, but those upgrades would cos t10′s of billions of dollars. Are consumers going to fork up that much extra on their power bills?

If we’re going to shift the amount of power consumption we’re talking about for personal transportation from gasoline/diesel to electrical power, then we have to invest in not only power plants, but power transmission – down to the household level.

Like I said . . . . On the other hand, reader John Beckwith thinks Obama is a piker:

1MM pluggable hybrids is nothing. It is less than 10% of cars sold per year. It should happen in a few years naturally without government intervention. As you note, the grid can easily absorb it. In fact, plugging hybrids (and their large batteries) into the grid might actually help stablize our creaky old grid if the charging is managed by the utility. It is likely that pluggables will largely replace ‘spinning reserves’ in that they can put power back when needed. I know of at least one startup that is marketing this capability. Network enabled energy storage elements will make the grid way better than it is now.

Obama’s energy plan is lame for other reasons. At best, it mandates and subsidized things the market is already doing on its own. At worst, it will become yet another pork vehicle that crowds out true innovation. The best thing the government can do is remove barriers to permitting nukes (and maybe also to selling retrofit kits for older vehicles so they can become PHEVs) and otherwise get out of the way. Clever, greedy people will take care of the rest. Obama can then villify and tax them.

As I said, intelligent power management is key. And as for vilifying and taxing success — that’s what government is for. Otherwise the rest of the citizenry might develop self esteem problems. This was all addressed by Robert Heinlein, natch:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Yeah, I’ve quoted this before, but it’s evergreen.

MORE: Steve Schubart writes: “You have some really smart readers.” Yes, I do.

STILL MORE: Reader Christopher Villarreal emails:

Since I work at the California PUC, the issue of when to charge a PHEV is something we are very interested in and working to facilitate. One of the benefits that we are hoping for with PHEV’s is to take advantage of our wind sources. Specifically, California’s wind peaks at night- in other words, we can’t use wind when it’s hot since it’s hot because there’s no wind. The California ISO has a graph that I could probably find for you tomorrow, if you’re interested, that shows wind and peak are inverse to each other- peak times (3-6 PM) is when wind is at its lowest, and wind is at its highest when demand is at its lowest (night time).

So, what does all that mean- having PHEV’s charge at night would allow wind powered generation to actually meet some amount of demand. PHEV is being viewed as a sort of distributed generation during the day and afternoon to help meet some demand, then charge up at night and be used to help integrate wind.

Additionally, there is work already going on to deal with the timing issue, such as having timers on the PHEV’s outlet at home so that you can set when the car will be charging. Coupled with a expectation of having more dynamic prices for residential (one day) that represents local prices (LMPs), there should be some price signal sent to the customer showing when one can charge relatively cheaply (although I imagine that initially there will be an extra (higher) rate for a PHEV owner who charges at home- I have a friend trying to convince his work to pay for the charging facilities and make use of their on-site generation).

That doesn’t even go into all the ways businesses are looking at matching solar installations with plug in facilities, such as parking lots that install solar arrays over the parking lots and allow customers to charge whilst shopping.

However, I do think that the transmission and distribution system will be stressed to integrate the power needs of a lot of PHEV’s coming on to the grid. Without a major upgrade of the nation’s distribution system, the additional power that will be coming or going out of houses and apartment complexes will be very challenging for utilities. Which is also why California is beginning to do some serious work on defining standards for a Smart Grid so that all of these new toys can integrate smoothly. I think your reader David Stine is essentially correct, although I think there’s enough night time capacity for PHEVs.

Very interesting, and worthy of more investigation.

IN LIGHT OF EVIDENCE THAT POPULISM AND PROTECTIONISM ARE GROWING, some thoughts of Robert Heinlein:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

I’m just, you know, saying.

MEGAN MCARDLE: “The appalling poverty of Sri Lanka or Mozambique is not some bizarre aberration that can be tracked to a cause we can cure. We are the aberration; Sri Lanka and Mozambique are the normal state of human history.” I, of course, would like to see this aberration spread until everyone is rich and healthy. But she’s right — poverty, etc., are the default condition.

UPDATE: Reader Steve Ford sends this quote:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded- here and there, now and then- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

-Robert A. Heinlein

Indeed.