Friday, 6 October 2006

PC agrees with the Greens

I'm going to come out and agree with the Greens. This morning they're making a fuss in the news about the investment by the Government's Superannuation Fund in oil company ExxonMobil, claiming the oil company is active in funding what the Greens call "the climate change denial industry" and saying "that's inappropriate given New Zealand's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol." In this of course they're just echoing the latest campaign of the vast green world conspiracy to strangle funding for anyone other than prophets of doom.

The Government Superannuation Fund naturally enough pointed out that Mobil Exxon are as good as any other company; and Peter Thornbury, the public affairs manager for Mobil Oil New Zealand, pointed out that his company supported a range of organisations. "They don't speak on our behalf and nor do we control their views and messages." And that's true.

You might also remember not so long ago that I called attention to the fact that climate change science is not settled, and drew attention to those like George Reisman and Patrick Moore who point out that trying to squelch climate change debate by having opponents denounced as "deniers" is both wrong and bad science. And you might also recall the analysts who have pointed out (with only some small surprise) that the returns on the Super Fund for the last two years have been good, so on that basis the credentials so far on which it's important for the Super Fund's managers to be judged -- ie., that they're making money rather than losing it -- are good. (But it is still early days.)

So why then do I agree with the Greens? I agree with them because the Government Superannuation Fund gets it money to invest from the pockets of you and me -- without any say in that by either you or me -- and if either you or I have a problem with where that money goes, there is nothing we can do about that short of making a fuss in the news.

I say it's wrong that your own money is taken from you to fund or invest in that of which you strongly disapprove, and that, to me, is one of the fundamental problems with the Government Superannuation Fund: not just that the entire retirement eggs of all New Zealanders are wrapped up in that one little basket, but that our own money is being taken off us by force to make investment choices with which some of us might disagree.

In this, I might disagree with what the Greens disapprove of (and I do), but I do defend their right to object to having their own money invested in such places. On that, I agree with them entirely.

LINKS: Greens question investment in oil - Newswire
Greens want super fund to stop investing in ExxonMobil - Stuff
The science *isn't* settled, Mr Parker - Not PC (Aug 31)
Schwarzenegger bets the state- Not PC (Sept 25)
Former Greenpeace leader joins criticism of Royal Society's global warming outburst - Not PC (Sept 30)

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Politics-Greens, Environment, Global Warming


  1. Regardless of the veracity of climate change theories, I find the use of the word "denier" very disturbing.
    There's a nasty case of emotional smuggling going on here. In most people's heads, especially in a political context, the word "denier" is tightly bound to the word "holocaust".
    The labelling of opponents as "deniers" is an attempt to trip that association in the listener's mind and paste the opposition with all of the negative feelings that are attached to Holocaust deniers. It's an attempt to skip the discussion and go straight to yelling "Nazi".
    Once again, debate is subverted by using personal smears in place of coherent argument.

  2. But they aren't just arguing about their own money being spent are they?

    They don't want any money invested in Exxon and that includes the money from people who do support the super scheme and don't care where it is invested. They don't oppose the confiscation in the first place. They aren't even supporting the idea that everyone should get a say in where it is spent. It's simply a case of them wanting their way on this particular issue, even if the majority would disagree, because they feel they are right.

    That is not a position that is worthy of support.

  3. "But they aren't just arguing about their own money being spent are they?"

    No, THEY are not (although I believe Rod Donald did make the point at least once). The Greens have every right to object, and to the extent that they're objecting to how their money is invested I'm agreeing with them to that extent.

    I'm drawing the wider point from their bitching that NO investment by the Super Fund can be morally justified, since almost all of the Fund managers' decisions to invest other people's money will be objected to by many of the people whose money is being invested, and about which they will have no choice or any say whatsoever...

    On that basis the Super Fund is morally injustifiable.

  4. Ah - but you miss the point entirely - Technically the Cullen Fund is *not* your money - it is not personalized money, although it may have started off that way.

    So there goes your point entirely.

    Also I would much rather have my money in the Cullen Fund than have some bureaucrat pissing it up against the wall - and it has done really well - management is excellent.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.