Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Reservoir Capacitor

A reservoir capacitor can be used in electronic design to provide a smoothed voltage waveform to a load that requires a constant source voltage.

Here is a basic schematic diagram of a circuit employing a shunted reservoir capacitor with the source on the left and the load on the right; the source here is alternating or non-constant, and the load requires provision of a constant voltage; hence, we employ a capacitor to maintain the constant voltage required by the load during the times where the source is alternating to the negative state.

We could make an analogy here, from electronics to the non-material field of economics where we have a "load"; or in our economic systems, a citizenry that requires constant provision for subsistence and well-being; and a "source" of that provision that is often non-constant due to many earthly factors both "naturally" occurring and sometimes "man-made".

It matters not the causes of these frequent interruptions of the source.  In electrical design, we can plan for them and design accordingly.

Here is a picture of a large implementation of these shunted reservoir capacitors that are used here to provide improvement in the source performance to a large distribution area in times of variable main source functioning and variable loading requirements (short article here):

To quantify the performance of this type of implementation, we can refer to these basic mathematical equations and the time domain graphic illustration of the how the voltage supplied to the load will vary like this:

What we are left with is instead of a widely varying source voltage, a near constant source voltage that still varies slightly within a much smaller amplitude that is termed here a 'ripple voltage'.  

We often have to supply loads within what is termed a "tolerance" or "plus or minus x volts"; a small variation in voltage that is deemed "tolerable" to the load.

This ripple voltage is unavoidable as we of mankind are not in authority over the physical properties of the dialectric materials inside the capacitors, we only get to choose what dielectric material to use, and we only get to choose the size of the capacitors we employ.

Even so, we can do whatever we have to do within these real constraints we have been placed under in order to deliver the most stable source to the load in these situations.  We can increase the capacitance by using larger capacitors or even narrow the deltaT by using full wave rectifiers in an effort to provide the most stable source voltage to the load as is humanly possible.

"Whatever it takes..."

Perhaps at this point we can now make another analogy from the materialist here in electrical theory, over to the non-material field of economics.

First, we have to realize that unlike in our material systems implementations, we have to realize that we of mankind have complete authority over our non-material economic systems.

Complete authority... its like "we can dictate dielectric properties..." in electrical theory and electrical material system implementations.

In our economic systems, when we accept an economic outcome that is akin to this 'ripple voltage' introduced above, and our "load" within mankind has to be forced to accept even a slightly non-constant source, we have to realize that, even though this variation may seem "small" on a relative basis to the amplitude of the main source voltage, we have to realize that literally millions of our fellow members of mankind are getting fucked over royally in socio-economic injustice.

If we had authority over dielectric materials, not only would Elon Musk be elated and have $ signs rolling all around in his eyeballs, but be assured that we would be using this authority to provide the most stable source to the load in our material system implementations.

But alas we don't have such authority in these material implementations, so we have to make due with the choices and trade-offs we are left with.  But, NOT SO in our non-material economic systems, we don't choose we get to dictate.  We don't have to tolerate, we can dictate a zero-tolerance.

In a hypothetical situation where perhaps there was some sort of mission critical load that needed to be supplied with the most stable source voltage, rest assured that a team of designers would go to work to come up with the most stable source possible to meet requirements.

This design team would go to work to collapse the "ripple voltage" to meet the tolerances that the load required.

What are the morons in charge of our economic systems doing?

What are they doing?

These human pieces of garbage, these disgraced morons, these second-rate human pieces of shit DENY that we of mankind have authority over our non-materialist economic systems.  They absolutely deny this in every work that they do every day.

And instead look at our non-materialist economic systems as though they were material systems over which we have no authority, and are forced to "tolerate" economic outcomes that are often severely unfavorable to millions of our fellow members of mankind.

We have to figure out a way to move these people aside.


peterc said...

Good analogy, Matt.

Determining the required injections at the macro level should, in principle, be reasonably easy to ballpark, with a JG or other mechanism then used to respond automatically to the remaining fluctuations in aggregate employment.

There is plenty of room for variability and complexity at the micro level, but I think the parameters within which that complexity plays out are essentially macro and macro-institutional in nature. Also, I think the "train tracks" along which the broad direction of socioeconomic development occurs is set in place by decisions made in planning (both in corporate and political circles) and executed through political decision taking.

For example, I don't think we got suburban sprawl so much as a consequence of complex micro-level behavior generating an unpredictable macro outcome. Some big wigs decided they would like to create markets for housing, automobiles, household appliances, and so on, and used clout, both corporate and political, to set the broad trend in motion. There was then plenty of scope for complexity to play out within the broader trend that had intentionally been created, and that allows for a variety of outcomes in different localities. So, essentially I think power is exerted with an intention broadly to direct activity. The public needs to reclaim its part in that process, which should be increasingly democratized.

In terms of the appropriate macro-level injections, in a world where markets could effectively cover all activity, it would be a matter of feeding enough income through to the spenders to keep overall spending at roughly the appropriate level. Fluctuations, changes in consumer confidence and saving behavior, misallocations of resources, business failures, etc., would all occur, just as now, but would be occurring alongside a more stable aggregate level of spending and employment. Consistently strong demand conditions would not prevent the decline of inefficient or obsolete industries or the emergence of others. I think Austrian concerns along those lines are misplaced. It will still be the case, in the context of healthy overall demand, that inefficient or increasingly obsolete firms and industries will fall behind their competitors.

In reality, of course, not everything is market-based activity, and nor should it be. But, in principle, that makes things easier for macro policy. When some consumption and investment is public and therefore planned (preferably democratically), and some provision of goods and services is along non-market lines, then that largely confines the source of unpredictable demand fluctuations to the sphere of private markets. The basic principle will still apply in relation to the subset of economic activity located in the market sphere: the appropriate macro-level injection can be ball parked with a JG or other mechanism operating as automatic stabilizer.

Anyway, that is just my initial reaction. I think your post is good food for thought, and well worth reflecting on.

xan said...

Very Roger Ericksonesque.

Electricity seems a good tool to use to understand such things. I can see how a JG responds to fluctuations. Health insurance works similarly, and people's understanding of what insurance does is similarly screwed up. There is much talk of I pay for this or I don't want to pay for that, when all we are paying for is a medical industry to be in existence so that when something goes wrong with someone facilities and personnel are in place to deal with it. And, like any network, such as electrical or transportation or communication networks, it has to be overbuilt to deal with fluctuating demands. A JG simply absorbs our overbuilt network of labour. The health industries overcapacity is absorbed by training, research, etc. Efficiencies are created by using this excess capacity in down times in such a way that it can switch back to it's primary function when needed. But this requires planning, and since planning is verboten in our dominant philosophy, much is wasted, including human lives. The irony is that this is done in the name of efficiency.

Tom Hickey said...

Right, xan. Efficiency has be balanced with resilience to achieve effectiveness. Making efficiency the goal or the only means rather than a part of the means results in inefficiency.

Matt Franko said...

Right xan we DO have what have been termed "automatic stabilizers" in our current system but they are grossly inadequate and these disgraced pieces of human waste we have in charge are always about cutting them back...

In most material disciplines, planning and designing for a "worst case" scenario is simply the standard procedure no one gives it a second thought ... rsp

jg said...


I appreciate the metaphor to electrical engineering. As a society in general, we could use a lot more engineering now and into the exponential future.

Regarding a system which works fairly and correctly, which you correctly hint as a sort of moral imperative, my question is this: why not create an economic system? The bitcoin et al. communities have shown that it is, in principle, possible to create monetary systems of considerable sophistication. It is on them to prove your point that there are other and better ways to create a metaphor and framework for value within which others are willing work and thereby create value.

The challenges I see are consensus and economic completeness. First, it needs a sufficient consensus in terms of correctness, fairness, and end-users. The second is completeness--in the sense of an ecosystem having a full circle within which to "recycle" value. In order to stabilize any currency it requires the ability to fix prices, tax/destroy certain quantities, control inflation, etc. Not hard stuff, really.


Matt Franko said...


"why not create an economic system?"


(to me) it seems that the one we are operating was never "created" rather it perhaps "evolved"? or is "evolving"?

These days of heavy Darwinist/Spencerist beliefs dominating the mainstream view, this should perhaps not be surprising...

Most mainstream people look at economics as a so-called "social science" like they are Charles Darwin studying the behavior of a group of chimpanzees or something...

I dont look at mankind that way in any way, shape or form...

I think we can create whatever economic policy we want to have, and then create a system to deliver it...

In the analogy above, we could collapse the "ripple voltage" to ZERO ... easily imo...

Most people coming at it from the Darwinist/Spencerist perspective think there is nothing we can do to collapse the amplitude of the "ripple"... as if we are up against some sort of "natural laws" of dielectrics or something that we cannot overcome...

This is patent BS imo....

PeterC the commenter from above wrote a while back a nice blog titled "It doesnt have to be this way"... well... you know... he's right!

But until we can get people globally to lose what I see as an incorrect Darwinist/Spencerist pov of mankind born out of a huge libertarian movement that became manifest in the 1800s.... where they have us equivalent to animals or something and not created but evolved out of nothing (????) ... I dont think we are going to get to what I would consider "the best we can do..."

The dominant Darwinism/Spencerism is at core "anti-creation"... so it should perhaps not be surprising that creative people would look at our current economic systems and think "this system was never created"... or think it chaotic/random/capricious/arbitrary or something. This is the way I look at it... it has not been created imo...

While the non-creative people would not be very annoyed by it as after all for them it is "survival of the fittest" or "winner take all" "only the strong survive" etc... ie textbook Darwinism/Spencerism... and think "it has to be this way" or "this is the way it works in nature" etc... "nothing we can do about it".. etc..

I am at war 24/7/365 with this perspective.


Tom Hickey said...

The fundamental assumption of economic liberalism is that an economic system cannot be created, that's central planning. In this view, there is no alternative — Tatcher's TINA — to allowing market forces to shape the economy based on the natural law of supply and demand.

This is the basis of neoliberalism as a social and political theory based on economic liberalism. It's goal is the "naturally functioning" market state instead of the welfare state, which is centrally planned.

This is a fundamental divide politically based on ideology.

Peter Pan said...

That power supply is woefully inadequate for the modern electronic devices we have come to take for granted.

Economists might argue that an economy cannot be adequately described through mathematics. If that were the case in electrical engineering, it would be difficult to design a circuit that would operate in a predictable manner or within tolerance.

Difficult, but not impossible. And trial and error would eventually resolve the predictability challenge.

Instead, economists refuse to give up their phantasmagorical mathematical models.

Matt Franko said...

Well Tom maybe under the metals they were right?

Our economic outcomes were yoked to the availability of metals? so even govt institutions couldnt really advance public purpose unless we found a big strike of gold or silver...

But as WE know we are not under the metals anymore...

so perhaps think of being under the metals as only having a dielectric material that discharges quickly and the "ripple" runs down from the peak supply voltage quickly and the amplitude of the ripple voltage is larger... ie more people become victims of this what is observed by many as "slight" disruption...

Then youre right TINA comes in and we get NAIRU and all sorts of other deranged rationalizations that run off Spencerism...

While with the current advances in Information Technology and with it the abilty to run a state currency system via these global real-time Information systems, its like we happened upon the perfect dielectric that would have a near infinite discharge time characteristic, it would hold its charge infinitely ... so no ripple and no one of mankind would have to 'tolerate' even the LEAST amount of source disruption...

"In as much as you do it to one of these, the least of My brethren, you do it to Me." Mat 25:40

Its about what we do for the "least" of those among us...

We of mankind have to "collapse the ripple" to as close to zero as is humanly possible for these "the least" among us who are susceptible to these disruptions in the source...

only morons are standing in the way (for now)...