Tuesday, 15 September 2009

ETS: The hobgoblins have arrived [updated]

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
H.L. Mencken

John Key thinks you’re a prize sap.  If anything is clear from yesterday’s decision to inflict a Maori-Party-endorsed Emissions Trading Scam on you as if you’d welcome it, then it’s that he thinks you think he’s got things sorted.

What a sap.  Ross Elliot sums up what’s going on in ‘A Letter To His Subjects from Master Key’:

   Kia Ora, Taxpayer Bastards
    Today I'd like to announce that with the support of the Maori Party, we have reached
a compromise on the Emissions Trading Scheme. This will enable the government to withdraw from Labour's proposed full-shaft without so much as a kiss and a cuddle, substituting a far less arduous half-shaft with an optional reach-around.
    Power bills will now rise only 5%, fuel by only 3.5 cents, and overall household costs by $165 instead of $330. This should delay the destruction of the New Zealand economy by at least one election cycle.
    When I asked my Climate Change Minister, Nick Smith, why prices had to rise at all, he replied, and I quote, "Go fuck yourself, Honky".
    All the best.
   John Key

John has bought a pup, and if he thinks you’re going to be happy to pay for it then he’s even more stupid than he looks.  You see, John Boy still thinks that an Emissions Trading Scheme is going to “save the planet” – he really does, you know.  He hasn’t yet worked out that Emissions Tax Scams aren’t designed to save the planet, and they never will – they’re about controlling everyone on the planet.

And aren’t they doing well?

You see, environmentalists don’t really want to “save the planet.” If they were, we’d now be buried in tributes from environmentalists to the memory of the great Norman Borlaug who died over the weekend – the  great humanitarian who most of them don’t even know about – the man who saved over a billion lives, and reduced the need for so much of the earth’s acreage devoted to feeding so many. Have we heard a word passed in tribute to his passing from mainstream environmentalists? Of course not.

But human welfare is not their goal – and nor is reducing footprints.

What is the real goal then? It’s as simple now as it was when it was cooked up. Owen McShane has a story that helps illustrate what I mean:

“During my time at UC Berkeley, the New Zealand Government appointed Duncan McIntyre as the world’s first Minister for the Environment. (Sadly they failed to get rid of the now surplus Commissioner.) Flushed with national pride I alerted Professor Wildavsky to the good news. He listened to my homily without noticeable enthusiasm. About twenty minutes later as he walked past me on his way to a meeting he put his hand on my shoulder and said:

You know, Owen, if you are Minister of the Environment, eventually you are Minister
of Everything.’

“About ten years later I began to grasp his meaning.”

Do you grasp his meaning?  Do you see the ruse? It’s very simple, in fact it’s the same as every collectivists’ dream ever was: to put all necks in one noose.  Once you control “the environment” – what you’re “allowed” to put into it and what you’re “permitted” to take out – then you control everyone and everything.  As Bob Murphy points out, the ruse was telegraphed in 1954 by inveterate whinger and pro-apocalypse whiner Paul Erlich in another of his books filled with predictions of global environmental collapse that never happened, where he quoted Harrison Brown saying:

“It seems clear that the first major penalty man will have to pay for his rapid consumption of the earth’s nonrenewable resources will be that of having to live in a world where his thoughts and actions are ever more strongly limited, where social organization has become all pervasive, complex, and inflexible, and where the state completely dominates the actions of the individual.”

This, by the way, is virtually the only prediction in Erlich’s books that has ever been proved right.

And Erlich wasn’t quoting Brown like what he was saying was a bad thing – quite the reverse. Because for Erlich and his followers, reducing consumption of the earth’s resources is not their primary goal – increasing the state’s domination of the actions of the individual is.  This is not some random conspiracy theory, as Murphy goes on to point out :

    “Free-market writers such as Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman have stressed that it is impossible for a government to restrict economic freedoms while retaining civil or “personal” liberties. For example, even if a democratic yet socialist government assures its citizens they have “freedom of the press,” that assurance is hollow because the government owns all the newspapers and radio stations. It’s also naive to say that citizens have the right to protest the government, if that same government has the power to reassign workers to Siberia (because they deem it best to maximize national “economic output”).
    “Because of these realities, people who call themselves progressives should rethink their commitment to more government control over energy markets. It’s not simply a matter of abstract property rights and fairness for shareholders of oil companies. If the government can’t be trusted to snoop on our phone conversations or emails–and I wholeheartedly agreed with the progressives who were alarmed at the erosion of civil liberties under the Bush Administration–then by the same token, how can that same government be trusted to fairly administer energy markets with only the fate of the planet in mind?”

Perhaps you could ask Nicky Hager?

Just to nail his point home, Murphy quotes among other things a recent Spiegel Online interview in which “Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the German government’s climate protection advisor, [proposed] the creation of a CO2 budget for every person on the planet…”;  a new report issued by the London School of Economics concluding that “family planning should be seen as one of the primary methods of emissions reductions”; and a recent article in the Wall Street Journal which detailed just how Orwellian policies to ration water usage can become.   (And there are countless other examples he could have used, including the ongoing to calls to use “renewable energy” – as if you can simply plug “renewable energy” into the grid to replace real energy production; and the visceral resistance of activists to geo-engineered solutions to  global warming, or to simply leaving people free to adapt.) He concludes:

“As with the progressive complaints against Big Brother in the War on Terror, the same applies in the War on Carbon: once you concede the principle that the government can coercively interfere with people’s daily lives, then just about anything goes–and will go when the proponents can cite ‘saving the planet’ as their goal.”

For more fuel on this particular fire, read (or re-read) George Reisman’s timeless article ‘The Toxicity of Environmentalism,’ and read this panoply of man-hating quotes from a litany of mainstream environmentalistsThey do mean it.

Now do you think that our local politicians understand any of this?  I’d say not really.  They probably understand it all gives them more control, and they won’t feel bad about that. Their Maori Party colleagues will understand that it somehow controls whitey more than their own constituency, and give Maori forestry owners more money for not doing anything – and they’ll hardly feel bad about that. And the National-led Government itself is so mired in contradictions that while John Key is bouncing from cloud to heaping praise on his new scheme to tax everybody blind, his Finance Minister Bill English was telling people that that with the NZ dollar so high this government will need to do everything it can to make New Zealand businesses more competitive.

Almost unbelievable.

If you’ve ever wondered how we’ve ended up where we are, then that braindead contradiction sums it up: the men you’ve put in charge over your lives have no bloody idea what’s really going on.  All they understand is that a hobgoblin has arrived on their table that they think allows them to look good.

Pity they haven’t worked out the real stakes – or that the hobgoblin itself is largely a fiction.

UPDATE:  Global warming has now hit New Zealand -- not global warming itself, but the political response to alleged global warming.

On the policy responses to this fiction read (or re-read0 Christopher Monckton’s Open Letter to John Key on The Policy Responses to get some context. It’s a shame John Key didn’t.

And for those like Jeanette Fitzsimons who says that Nicholas Stern’s Stern Report tells us that if governments don’t act now we’ll all be worse off in the end, then they need to realise:

  1. Calls for “action” like Fitzsimons are only calls for govt action to limit private action. Nothing more.
  2. The Stern Report has been thoroughly discredited. 
    1. As Murphy himself points out, “In the climate change debate, people often forget that under all but the most catastrophic scenarios, the future generations who will benefit from our current mitigation efforts will be much richer than we are."
    2. Stern’s “model” was deliberately chosen to show the worst possible outcomes: a medium high emissions scenario and with further feedback mechanisms, combined with the lowest possible estimates for future wealth to make the discounting look good.  See Tim Worstall analysis on this here.
    3. As climate scientists Chris de Freitas and Bob Carter, and prominent American skeptic Richard Lindzen pointed out thoroughly out in the Journal of World Economics, “there is [a question] how far the Stern Review, in the sections that it devotes to them, gives an accurate account of the scientific issues. We consider that the Review is doubly deficient. The scientific evidence for dangerous change is, in fact, far from overwhelming, and the Review presents a picture of the scientific debate that is neither accurate nor objective....”
    4. Bjorn Lomborg talked more about the dodgy numbers behind the Stern Report. “Mr. Stern's core argument [is] that the price of inaction would be extraordinary and the cost of action modest. Unfortunately, this claim falls apart when one actually reads the 700-page tome. Despite using many good references, the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is selective and its conclusion flawed. Its fear-mongering arguments have been sensationalized, which is ultimately only likely to make the world worse off.”
    5. In any case, the window for Stern’s prescription has already passed, the scenarios he posits are outlandish, the action he proposes is simply government action to ban private action, and in the end, “It’s not impossible that what we might end up with is an economic system largely destroyed by environmentalist policies plus the start of a new ice age resulting from government efforts to counteract global warming through the use of technologically inspired counter measures.”  Read George Reisman’s scathing analysis here.
  3. This is not about science.  It’s about politics and about control. Fitzsimons and her brood don’t care how Stern made up his numbers or how their tame scientists over-inflate their figures – that’s all part of the new post-modern scientific method anyway, right. 

It really isn’t about science; it’s about control.  After all, even if the IPCC’s worst prognostications came to pass, it doesn’t follow that we all need to stick our head in a noose. As Bernard Darnton says, we know that socialism doesn’t work at fifteen degrees, so why will it work at seventeen?
So what would a libertarian do about global warmingPlenty. Property rights can still work over international borders.Fact is, it’s not sacrifice and self-abnegation that’s needed, but more self-interested pursuit of technology -- and what's needed to pursue that is more freedom and less big government.

John Boy has just delivered the opposite.


  1. "John Key thinks you’re a prize sap"

    Can you provide any evidence that the average NZ voter isn't a prize sap?

  2. [Detour sorry, but I know a lot of economically minded libertarians read this blog ;)

    If anyone has the time to put Bernard Hickey right on point # five of this post, be my guest. I've put a quick retort, but won't have time to read the linked article until tonight.]

    Move this somewhere else, or delete, if you like Peter.

  3. The Reisman article you link to is great. Here's my favourite quote:

    "The meaning of this insanity is that industrial civilization is to be abandoned because this is what must be done to avoid bad weather. All right, very bad weather. If we destroy the energy base needed to produce and operate the construction equipment required to build strong, well-made, comfortable houses for hundreds of millions of people, we shall be safer from the wind and rain, the environmental movement alleges, than if we retain and enlarge that energy base. If we destroy our capacity to produce and operate refrigerators and air conditioners, we shall be better protected from hot weather than if we retain and enlarge that capacity, the environmental movement claims. If we destroy our capacity to produce and operate tractors and harvesters, to can and freeze food, to build and operate hospitals and produce medicines, we shall secure our food supply and our health better than if we retain and enlarge that capacity, the environmental movement asserts."

  4. @Matt: It's right on the money, isn't it -- and especially prescient when you realise it was written in 1990!

  5. I no longer see John-boy as a spineless middle-of-the-road compromiser surrounded by dickheads. I see him as a sinister little bastard. What the Maori party leadership have been caught doing I don't know. But that is the only possible explanation for them signing up to this crock of shit.

    This is what you get when you have no principles and are just used to doing deals

  6. [Cheers all. Seems like after throwing the ball in, Bernard didn't want to play very long.]

  7. "I no longer see John-boy as a spineless middle-of-the-road compromiser surrounded by dickheads. I see him as a sinister little bastard."

    Same here. The prick has an agenda and that agenda has very little to do with what the voters want.

  8. Leading climate change advocate admits world likely to cool over next 1 - 2 decades. http://bit.ly/IGeet Why are we doing this again?

  9. Lets agree to disagree on the science.

    Hypothetically, if you did agree with the majority of sciences that climate change is real.

    What would be the appropriate solution?

    Have you read about sulfur dioxide cap and trade in the US?

    Do you think that acid rain was another fake scam created by sneaky commies who want to control your entire life?

    If you accept that the planet can only safely process a limited amount of C02 then property rights for carbon emissions are far better than command and control emissions reduction.

  10. If it was true the appropriate solution would be to analyse whether it made more sense to try and stop it or deal with the consequences. Since the vast majority of the consequences are benign, it would probably be far easier and cheaper to build a few dykes.

  11. Well PC, taxing the air we breathe

    What is to be done ?????

  12. wait so, is this post an ironic joke?
    i'm new to this site..

  13. The fact is, all of man’s activities affect the ecology and even other men. Car exhaust, overflowing garbage cans, unpleasant smells are facts of life. They are mere inconveniences. More than that, there is no way to counteract them without imposing an injustice on the offenders (e.g., banning offending perfumes).

    The same principle applies to the global warming issue. The only way to stop the gradually rising ocean levels — if we are to accept the environmentalists’ arguments at face value — would be to shut down or severely hamper industrial production, transportation, and all the benefits we derive from the use of electricity.

    Given that choice, I would consider a gradually rising ocean as a minor inconvenience on the order of all those breathfuls of car exhaust or noxious perfumes or visions of unsightly garbage that I must encounter over the course of my life.

  14. "wait so, is this post an ironic joke?
    i'm new to this site.."

    And new to rational thought, obviously..:-)

  15. UPDATE: Global warming has now hit New Zealand

    Where ?

    EG Auckland airport WMO reporting shows a linear trend of 0.0086 c/yr1960- present(which is below the margin of error)

    This would imply an additional degree of warming in around 80 years.

    At the other end of NZ Invercargill shows a linear trend of -0.076c/yr this would imply a 1 degree cooling in around 13 years.


  16. The Mainstream Green movement has not called for a wholesale shutdown of industrial society.

    Merely they have asked for a stronger movement towards greener technologies that do not impact on the climate.

    This does not wreck anything. It will cost some money and will involve gradually shifting the energy base away from fossil fuels.

    The only reason that the greens are shouting so loud is because business and right wing interests want to do this within 100-200 years whereas greens want this done within more like 50 years.

    It can be done. Technology is evolving. As long as reforms and incentives from government keep pace the technology will have the financial incentives to evolve faster.

    If you take away those financial incentives for research into the climate issue then you will slow down the pace at which we can solve this issue.

    Carbon trading and taxes are the incentives for the research.


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