We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

The argument being that post-WWII we put in place those global economic regulators. Bretton Woods, the IMF, the World Bank and so on. Now we should do so again. Simply because it’s obvious that there should be global economic regulation from the centre.

Obviously.

Except that’s to miss the point of the past 40 years. We did indeed have those global institutions. And the poor countries didn’t grow. Then we started – this global neoliberalism – to use market processes and the poor countries did grow. We are enjoying that delight of falling global inequality as a result. The progressive eradication of absolute poverty. We actually have, in place right now, the correct economic policies that is.

But, obviously, because it is just obvious that there must be a Fat Controller, we must reinstitute the failed policies we’ve proven wrong just because. Thus this current call. Climate change is only the excuse here.

Tim Worstall

34 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Extinction Rebellion posters are now appearing in my town church (I go there for musical reasons, not religious ones). Church, XR, Universities, these are now full of the people who are desperate to be Fat Controllers.

  • Mr Ecks

    Hector–Tear then down and punch anyone who tries to intervene.

    The Globo elite want an impoverished world that they can lord it over. At the national level shite like Macron are trying to start–or indeed continue– a process of impoverishment of ordinary mostly native white folk. To match the import of non-white left-voters-for-benefits. The YJ’s see what is happening and are fighting it.

    At a bigger level of course the globo’s want back structures they can use to choke off rising prosperity. It hits their import plans and it gives resources to people who also won’t want to be impoverished again under the “elites” Agenda 2030–or whenever–plans.

    The greenfreak Marxist shite is being used as justification at both levels.

  • Jon

    I’m disinclined to believe in so vast a conspiracy – not least because people are stupid and would leak it. If hundreds of thousands of people are smart enough to hide the supposed ‘let’s pretend that CO2 is warming the planet for the purposes of creating new centralised institutions’ then they’re smarter than us- maybe they should run things (obviously I don’t believe this). This isn’t to comment at all on the veracity or AGW, only its utility as a Marxist plot (or whatever).

    Isn’t it more likely that most individuals (not the hardcore Marxist ones- but most average people) are responding rationally to fears about climate change in their (our) own way. Maybe it’s all a hoax, but I don’t like most countries that produce oil, because they hate me, so if I can screw them (and maybe have cleaner air) so much the better.

    Tim seems right- although I can’t help feeling that Improved US/WTO policing of IP might have kept the Chinese at bay militarily for another decade or so, such that some central institutions seem sensible.

    Isn’t the better environmental argument here that as individuals we have choices, that our choices have consequences (and externalities). In so far as our choices have consequences only for us, they are ours to make alone, insofar as they impact others, there needs to be some framework (which could be based on a distributed framework- it doesn’t need to be centrally policed by necessity) to recognise their costs.

    TL:DR – Isn’t there a libertarian case for environmentalism and if so, aren’t we missing an opportunity by not shaping the argument in favour of liberty?

  • Itellyounothing

    Big conspiracy works like a church.

    Only the guys at the top and the unbelievers know it’s rubbish.

    Then you get a symbol like a mentally disabled young girl who will say whatever you scare her into believing but looks sympathetic.
    Shove her out front and centre. Unbelievers are monsters who disagree with her.
    Virtue signallers and true believers have a cause.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I’m disinclined to believe in so vast a conspiracy – not least because people are stupid and would leak it.

    Conspiracy is probably the wrong word, but there are certainly a large proportion of people who think that central control is the best solution, despite the mass of historical evidence against it.

  • Jon

    Absolutely- many humans long for someone (anyone!) to tell them what to do.

    Our job shouldn’t be to denounce them all as paid up members of a Marxist conspiracy – but to show that liberty works better. This is as true in environmentalism as it is in anything else.

    I’m sure I’ve read Tim argue for a Carbon tax before – some form of pricing in the externalities of carbon production would be sensible if you accept GW as any kind of threat (and I know some here don’t). Letting the market correct for the externality would be the least damaging way to internalise it – rather than frothing at the mouth at its mention.

    So, let us commend Greta for her compassion and expending her youth for what she believes to be the greater good, but gently suggest she look to other means for her implementation! A long march through the institutions, if you will….

  • Mr Ecks

    Jon–sorry but that is weak cockrot. The globo elite in group numbers is small and while feudalism is their thing marxist bullshit and evil serves to program their useful idiot troopers.

    Socialism has murdered 150 million but is being pushed almost everywhere by stupid scum to know-nowt kids using sanctimonious bullshit as the tool. Works very very well sanctimonious bullshit does. They don’t need to keep the conspiracy that quiet because legions of mugs will denounce the existence of such conspiracy.

    Anyway it is a set direction rather than a specifically dated set of plans. They know 2030 will only be the beginning but if the road is being walked they are on the way. Lots of people see what is happening–including a large chunk of the French–but there are plenty of chumps to deny it. Some because they also know what is happening and want it to happen–or because they are thick or because they are thick and evil and believe the weatherwank shite.

  • neonsnake

    Our job shouldn’t be to denounce them all as paid up members of a Marxist conspiracy – but to show that liberty works better.

    Spot on, Jon.

    Too many of us (me included) spend too much time on what we’re against and why it doesn’t work, rather than telling people what we’re for, and demonstrating that it does work.

    Spending too much time on the “against” just leaves us open to accusations of bad faith. I remain unconvinced of the “catastrophic” bit in climate change, whilst being open to it being man-made.

    But I could certainly put a case, were I so inclined, that the hardcore deniers (depending on how they phrase their denial), are doing so because they have an agenda, and that agenda is that they don’t care about it purely because caring will cost them money.

    And that’s the case that’s being made, successfully, and the majority of people have no reason to disbelieve that 97% of scientists believe the science is settled – because we’re shit at putting forward a better argument, and too many of our fellow travelers are throwing rage-fits AT a sixteen year old girl; and then we wonder why people are looking sideways at us and not taking us seriously.

    Same argument goes for people who call themselves socialist.

    Most aren’t, I’d be prepared to bet that 90% of the UK just want freer markets (ie. they’re against corporatism, not capitalism per se, they just don’t know the difference), plus a safety net for insurable disasters such as sudden unemployment or health problems. But “we” push them into socialism or socialism-lite every time because we’re awful at arguing for liberty and showing its rewards.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Jon
    I’m disinclined to believe in so vast a conspiracy – not least because people are stupid and would leak it. If hundreds of thousands of people are smart enough to hide the supposed ‘let’s pretend that CO2 is warming the planet for the purposes of creating new centralised institutions’

    I think this is an interesting point, and one worth expanding on, primarily because I believe it is founded on an incorrect assumption on how beliefs are formed. People don’t look at the evidence, synthesize the data and come to a belief, which they then continue to hold subject to change if more contradictory information comes to them. That isn’t how people form their belief system at all.

    Beliefs are much more of a tribal thing. Religion is a perfectly illustrative example, but it applies to all sorts on non religious groupings too. To be part of the group there is a set of doctrines you must hold to. And you hold these doctrines without much examination based on the authority of the one telling you. A common sermon or common book in the religious community would be called something like “What we believe”, where the preacher or author expounds on the doctrines of their religion. But this title is a misnomer, what they really mean is “what you SHOULD believe to be orthodox”, but in a sense the title manifests the underlying self deception, or suspension of disbelieve. The trade of logic consistency for social inclusion. Few people want to be non-orthodox. (I recognize that most people here want to be non-orthodox, but, to massively understate the case, the denizens of these parts are not a representative sample of he population as a whole.)

    Of course science is (supposed to be) the exact opposite of this. Though, in practice, science also suffers to a lesser extent from this sort of tribalism. More-so, depending on the softness of the science (see below about binary predictions).

    So again, I use a religious example here, but it is the same in non religious groupings: conservatives believe this doctrine, marxists this, participants in the Spartan races this, golfers believe this, environmentalists this, Brexiters this, Remainers this. Some doctrine sets are all encompassing, some are narrower in scope, but their operation is the same nonetheless.

    And such fragmentation and boundaries around our belief systems are really helped by the internet where little fragments of the web can be used to form echo chambers and exclusion zones, so that our beliefs are fed only with supporting information, and apparently dissenting information is spun to help us “understand it”.

    Now to be clear this isn’t a matter of deliberate deception, it is just the way our minds are designed to work. Green people do passionately believe the whole thing, capitalists believe the whole thing. And there are barriers up to prevent adherents from swaying even a little off the path.

    And all of this is readily explained by the simple observation that we are above all a social species rather than a logical species. The value of social ties vastly outweighs the value of logical consistency.

    Of course this is a very broad brush and there are many exceptions deviations and pig headed individuals who won’t get with the program. But that, for sure, is what I see when I see people operating. It is by no means a deliberate mendacious conspiracy. It is more like a religious thing. So for example, although I think there is no reasonable reason to believe in God, I certainly don’t doubt the sincerity of those who do. I don’t think they, or their leaders are part of a big conspiracy. I think they are just mistaken, and the social bonds that holds them together require them to not challenge that fundamental view point. “Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief.”

    BTW, it is also worth saying that this sort of this is quite significantly different than something like the moon landing conspiracy, where your observation of “too many people involved for it not to leak out” is correct. Moon landing is a pretty binary thing, either we did or we didn’t. It is an unarguable fact based on the actual evidence. Participants in the Apollo program cannot really delude themselves into thinking it is true when it isn’t. Either they saw with their eyes the rocket taking off or they didn’t. Either the reflectors on the moon reflect lasers or they don’t. But things where the borders are fuzzier: “the world is getting hotter”, or “God performs this miracle” are far fuzzier, and those involved in the conspiracy don’t actually participate, they don’t measure the temperature, they don’t get up from their wheelchair and walk. Rather they have to accept a set of beliefs that are designed to be intrinsically believable, and hard to disprove because you can’t tie things down.

    A perfect example of this strange phenomenon is the prediction of the date of the rapture. A group of Christians called the Millerites predicted the return of Jesus on March 21st, 1844. Unfortunately he didn’t come. You’d think that would be the end of the Millerites. It is an absolute binary prediction. Either Jesus came or he didn’t. However, people were so committed to the social group that they can just deny the reality, and so they revised the prediction to October 22nd of the same year. Curiously, the second failure did manifest damage to their confidence in the so called Great Disappointment. Did this lead to rational thinking and atheism? No of course not. It lead to them transforming their social group into a different religious movement. The leaders learned the lesson not to make binary predictions any more.

  • neonsnake

    Crikey. Good post, Fraser

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m disinclined to believe in so vast a conspiracy – not least because people are stupid and would leak it.”

    They *did* leak it! In fact, they didn’t even try to hide it. It’s up there officially on the UN’s own website!

    https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/docs/2011/awglca14/eng/crp38.pdf

    This is one of the planning documents from the international climate negotiations they have every few years. It includes such gems as “Reduce global greenhouse gas emissions more than 100 per cent by 2040 by Annex I Parties” and “Developed country Parties shall provide developing country Parties with new and additional finance, inter alia through a percentage of the gross domestic product of developed country Parties” and “Developed country Parties shall not resort to any form of unilateral measures, including tariff, non-tariff, and other fiscal and non-fiscal border trade measures, against goods and services from developing country Parties on any grounds related to climate change, including protection and stabilization of the climate, emissions leakage and/or the cost of environment compliance.” and “The removal of all obstacles, including intellectual property rights and patents on climate-related technologies to ensure the transfer of technology to developing countries.” and “Requests the Conference of the Parties to develop, by its eighteenth session, an International Climate Court of Justice in order to guarantee the compliance of Annex I Parties with all the provisions of this decision, which are essential elements in the obtaining of the global goal;” and “The guarantee that all Parties shall cease destructive activities that contribute to climate change, in particular the activities of warfare, production of materials and services that support warfare, and to divert associated financial resources and investments into the shared global effort to combat a common enemy: climate change.”

    Or if that’s not explicit enough, how about this book by one of the IPCC’s lead authors?

    https://hauntingthelibrary.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/ipcc-green-doctor-prescribes-end-to-democracy-to-solve-global-warming/

    The issue with conspiracy theories is not that conspiracies never happen, but that believers justify the total lack of evidence for them by pointing out that’s exactly what you’d expect to see given the cover-up.

    But this issue doesn’t have the same problem. The evidence is out there for all to see. (Climategate is another rather-hard-to-ignore example.) Scientists have written reams of scientific argument debunking it, entire books have been written about it. The news that it’s bunk has been leaked all over the place. But nobody knows about it, nobody talks about it, nobody remembers it.

    I think it’s because of a peculiar reversal of the usual evidential reasoning. If there was evidence against it somebody would have pointed it out, and scientists and governments would take note, and reject it. They haven’t rejected it. Therefore there can be no evidence. And if people claiming to be ‘scientists’ are shouting and waving their arms pointing at huge piles of ‘evidence’ where there isn’t any, they must be a bunch of loonies.

    That’s just plain logic, right?

    “Isn’t there a libertarian case for environmentalism and if so, aren’t we missing an opportunity by not shaping the argument in favour of liberty?”

    Of course. We don’t agree with tipping toxic waste full of heavy metals into rivers, for example. We don’t agree with releasing cyanide gas into the air. We all have to live on the planet – damaging it is obviously a bad idea.

    But the first thing we require is that proposals for expensive action be based on solid evidence. Too much of the environmentalism is based on unscientific nonsense and factually incorrect, easily debunked propaganda. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

    And the second thing we require is that any solution should actually work, and be based on sound engineering or economics. Stuff like nuclear power, geoengineering, adaptation, a climate futures market are the sort of things we’d develop if it really was an environmental problem, rather than a political fiction. As a hypothetical thought experiment we don’t have any problem coming up with libertarian solutions to the supposed problem, if asked. But nobody shows any interest because they don’t achieve the real purpose, which is to overthrow capitalism. And again, because scientists and governments are not taking any of the real engineering solutions respecting liberty seriously, people conclude there are no real engineering solutions respecting liberty. And so anyone offering any must be a loony.

    It’s a very Orwellian phenomenon. People can’t see what’s out in plain sight, because the conventional wisdom tells them it’s not there. It’s very similar to previous eco-scares, like the Population Bomb, which was set to destroy civilisation before 2000. We don’t remember those, either. All very strange.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Nullius in Verba
    It’s very similar to previous eco-scares, like the Population Bomb, which was set to destroy civilisation before 2000. We don’t remember those, either. All very strange.

    So question…. why don’t we remember these previous failed apocalyptic predictions? I think the case of the Millerites I mentioned above is useful in understanding it.

  • bobby b

    “why don’t we remember these previous failed apocalyptic predictions?”

    What’s easier to accept? “The entire basis of our tribal faith must now be questioned?” Or “we blew the math”?

    I remember being a kid, in our Lutheran church, where part of the service involved reciting the Apostle’s Creed – the key points of the faith. Nobody ever seemed to question item six, or three, or whichever. If you wanted to remain in the tribe, you simply accepted the entire litany. There was no rational basis for doing so beyond “my group says this, and I want to stay in my group.”

    If the priests say it’s warming due to CO2, it must be. If we insist on rationality from our priests, then we can no longer look to them to explain the irrationalities of life, and what good would they be then? If we question the “authorities”, we lose the security of having “authorities”, and we lose our group membership.

  • Jon

    Hmmm- interesting points Fraser and thank you Neonsnake. But just as some significant proportion of catholics use condoms in breach of their sacred duty to let the love flow, I don’t think most people with dogs in the fight think about the vast majority of us in the middle who are looking to a trustworthy arbiter of likely truth to put our votes, faith or money into. In short, I think you overestimate the attraction of doctrinal certainty/ purity, especially in a private voting booth (Twitter et al are different matters, of course). Or if people do want a whole liturgy, the left is FAR better at dressing its arguments up in respectable clothes.

    If libertarians are to win anything ever (and it doesn’t strike me that we’re sufficiently able to not go all People’s Front of Judaea for this) then we need to argue for the uncommitted middle, the largely impartial bystander who just wants to raise their kids, drive to the shops and have a quiet life.

    Screaming at Marxists (real or imagined) just makes us look like loons.

  • neonsnake

    All very strange.

    I don’t think it’s so strange.

    The price of housing is now out of reach for most people because capitalism.

    The 2008 crash was caused by capitalism.

    Homelessness is caused by capitalism.

    Right?

    Easily accepted ideas amongst mainstream thought.

    To disprove any of those, you’d need to be motivated to trawl the data – hard work! – for a decent amount of time – who has time? Bake Off is starting, and frankly, I’m exhausted from my job.

    Global warming is real, catastrophic, and man-made. Everyone says so, and it makes perfect plausible sense. Since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve burned a load of, err, stuff, those fossil fuels that I’ve heard about, and all the smoke goes into the air. I’ve seen factory chimneys. Looks horrible. How can it not be damaging the environment (whatever that is). Also, baby turtles.

    And trying to get to the truth is bloody hard work, with a mire of articles called “Debunking the climate deniers!” or “AGW! The greatest hoax of our time!”. And I’m tired, and the dogs need feeding, and I forgot to put the casserole dish in the dishwasher and I need it to start making dinner, so I don’t know what to believe.

    So I go with what everyone is saying. I believe the 97% thing. Why would I not?

    It’s not that the counter-arguments aren’t logical, it’s the language they’re couched in.

    If you don’t have faith in free market solutions – and most people don’t, because house pricing, 2008 and homelessness are because of capitalism *cough* (capitalism vs free markets for another time) – then you believe the only option is government intervention, and therefore extra taxes, extra regulations, and so on.

    Which means less money for the evil exploitative capitalists, with their waistcoats and monocles, so they’re motivated to argue against it, or to find studies to find that AGW is nonsense.

    So when people say “Actually, climate change isn’t catastrophic and/or real”, it’s entirely logical to say “Yeah, right. You’re only saying that because you need year on year growth, and any legislation will harm your share price. Fuck off, capitalist scum.”

    And then you add Greta Thunberg.

    The insults that have been thrown this girl’s way are, well, distasteful to the extreme – Scoldilocks, Swedish Pixie, etc being the mildest, let alone anyone who’s going after her for having Asperger’s. She’s 16, she’s been fed a diet (like we all have) of finite resources being destroyed, and she’s doing something about it. She should be commended for her spirit, while simultaneously acknowledging that she’s being fed some bullshit by her elders.

    Instead, people go after her, personally. The optics are awful. And yes, facts should be more important than packaging, but that’s not how the world works. Packaging (marketing) is important, if you want people to listen.

    Jon nailed it up above.

    Want to dissuade people about the measures needed to combat “AGW”?

    Start talking about how it inhibits growth in poor African countries.

    Because this:

    The guarantee that all Parties shall cease destructive activities that contribute to climate change, in particular the activities of warfare, production of materials and services that support warfare

    Sounds pretty bloody appealing, actually, on the face of it.

    TLDR: we need to argue better and from a different perspective.

  • neonsnake

    we need to argue for the uncommitted middle, the largely impartial bystander who just wants to raise their kids, drive to the shops and have a quiet life.

    Screaming at Marxists (real or imagined) just makes us look like loons.

    Yes, yes yes!

    Thank you Jon! You get it.

  • Jon (October 7, 2019 at 12:37 pm), if you search down Dominic Cumming’s article for the word Oblonsky and keep reading, you will find a long quote from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, prefixed and interspersed with discussion by Cummings, about ‘tribal’ thinking. There are points in common with Fraser Orr (October 7, 2019 at 3:44 pm).

    However I also agree with Nullius in Verba (October 7, 2019 at 5:02 pm):

    “I’m disinclined to believe in so vast a conspiracy – not least because people are stupid and would leak it.”

    They *did* leak it!

    Both conspirators and tribal followers exist. Hannah Arendt describes the nazis and communists as “establishing their secret conspiracy in broad daylight” and the people Nullius links establish their (happily, as of now, lesser) conspiracy in the same way.

    Happily, the people you describe:

    the vast majority of us in the middle who are looking to a trustworthy arbiter of likely truth

    also exist, though how vast or otherwise that majority is can be debated. One thing you can get from Cummings is where (and why) the majority of that majority can be found.

  • neonsnake

    Jon–sorry but that is weak cockrot.

    Good argument, boy. You’ve just set us back 20 years.

    *Slow clap*

  • Fraser Orr

    neonsnake
    TLDR: we need to argue better and from a different perspective.

    I mean I think that is true to a certain extent. There is no doubt that the authoritarians are very good at messaging. One of their favorite tricks is to use people who cannot be argued against, such as young Ms. Thunberg, or Christine Blasey Ford. You can’t criticize or critically example children or victims. Instead you must feel, and sympathize, and admire their bravery, and respect their commitment. All the while disengaging your critical faculties. I don’t think badly of Ms. Thunberg. I do admire her moxie and passion. But I think she is just plain wrong about almost everything she said. And whenever a speech is dressed up in such raw, unadulterated emotionprep

    It is part of the process I mentioned above, getting people in echo chambers, and if you force your opponents into the echo chambers your supporters use they may well be convinced. We see this going on right now in the US regarding Trump and an utterly innocuous call to Ukraine. But, I think the press and the left wing establishment see this as their last hope, especially with the soon to be forthcoming reports on their dreadful behavior during and after the election of 2016. If you should a lie loud enough and long enough people will eventually believe it.

    But it truth Neosnake, you are suggesting an intervention too late in the game. The reason libertarians don’t win elections is neither messaging or strategy, it is simply because there aren’t all that many libertarians in our countries any more. The middle is for sure more libertarian than the elites would have you believe, but not much so. I think, for example, there is no appetite in America for eliminating the minimum wage, or replacing social security with a free market alternative.

    No the point of intervention is at the school level. That is where the indoctrination starts. That is where the minds are formed. And I think that there is perhaps hope there. The school system (in the US, I don’t know about the present situation in the UK) is so dreadful in places, and the quality of education so important to parents, I think there is hope for making changes. The foe — the teachers union — is implacable, but I think there is an appetite in America for a more free market school system. Still funded by government and taxes for sure, but more open and with more choice. I have been rather disappointed with Betsy DeVos, even though her heart seems to be in the right place. I think had the administration placed more emphasis on this then perhaps there would have been more progress. But I guess there is only so much political capital to go around.

  • Fraser Orr

    Sorry suffering from premature post button clicking. The sentence “And whenever a speech is dressed up in such raw, unadulterated emotionprep” should be “And whenever a speech is dressed up in such raw, unadulterated emotion my bullshit detector goes off.”

    And of course I meant “if you shout a lie loud enough…”

    Sheesh, perhaps it is me who needs to go back to school.

  • Julie near Chicago

    No no no, Fraser, all you have to do is to change the “me who needs” to “I who need” in your last sentence, and you’re home free. No detention, not even a re-written paper.

    *Just teasing — 😀 *

  • Paul Marks

    The excuse for economic controls was the Great Depression – however, the Credit Bubble crash of 1929 was caused by the Credit Money boom of the late 1920s, a Credit Boom created by Mr Benjamin Strong, the boss of the New York Federal Reserve – the Central Planner was the cause not the cure.

    And then in the 1930s first Herbert “The Forgotten Progressive” Hoover and then Franklin Roosevelt BOTH massively intervened – and their interventions held up (yes – held up) recovery. Again interventionism was the problem – not the solution.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the Climate Change types – it is absolutely clear that they are in the tradition of Plato. They want absolute control of people – from the cradle to the grave.

    If someone produced cheap energy that gave off on C02 emissions at all – these “green” tyoes (who include most of academia and so on) would NOT be pleased – on the contrary they would be very upset and seek to prevent the technology being used. This is because their objective, their conscious and deliberate objective, is totalitarianism.

  • Fraser Orr

    Julie near Chicago
    No no no, Fraser, all you have to do is to change the “me who needs” to “I who need”

    Ah, I forgot my copulative verb forms. Does that mean I “fucked” it up? 😀

  • Julie near Chicago

    FRASER !!! 😆 😆 😆 😆

  • Paul Marks
    October 7, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    […]

    If someone produced cheap energy that gave off on C02 emissions at all – these “green” tyoes (who include most of academia and so on) would NOT be pleased – on the contrary they would be very upset and seek to prevent the technology being used. This is because their objective, their conscious and deliberate objective, is totalitarianism.

    I believe the closest approximation to that is nuclear energy. QED, and I don’t mean quantum electrodynamics.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Ellen
    I believe the closest approximation to that is nuclear energy. QED, and I don’t mean quantum electrodynamics.

    I’m not sure I agree. There is no more regulated business in the world than the nuclear power industry. If you wanted a socialist approach you could do a lot worse than converting all electrical production to nuclear, thereby allowing you utter control over the power industry.

    I think the greens hate it for reasons other than desire to centralize control. (Though I don’t disagree with Paul’s basic premise that the whole thing is a big watermelon.)

  • neonsnake

    the Central Planner was the cause not the cure.

    Agreed, wholeheartedly. And that was the case nearly a century ago, and seems blindingly obvious to me. The three examples I mentioned earlier where capitalism is “clearly” to blame are also (at least partly) actually results of central planning.

    Ironically, I had a blazing row with a guy at work today; he’s in charge of designing how our stores are laid out (fixtures and fittings). Over time, stores have changed their layouts themselves, and he’s fixated on telling them to go back to “the plan”.

    He doesn’t seem to understand that 250 stores are all different, in slight ways, and that if they’ve changed it, it’s to make it more efficient (we’re a retailer where stuff is lugged around the store on pallet trucks or forklifts, and then physically lifted onto shelves) If it wasn’t more efficient, the guys that work the store 7 days a week will have realised, and moved it back. They’re motivated to do as little physical hard work as possible. Y’know, like everyone.

    But no, he has a spreadsheet, CAD planning software and a calculation, and he knows better. Central Planning trumps lived experience. He’s the reason us Head Office types are so badly thought of by the “plebs” out in the stores.

    So my interest, my genuine curiosity, is why?

    I don’t for one minute ascribe “bad motives” to the 40-odd percent of the population who vote left. My lived experience disproves it.

    I privately agree with Paul’s view on the “leaders”, expressed on another thread, but the voters? Your average bloke on the street? Nah. Misguided, yes, but evil? Nuh-uh.

    So I think it’s the wrong tack to take, to criticise motive. It just creates immediate division, and as Jon said earlier, makes us look like loons.

    I think it’s legitimate to criticise “understanding” (they think we’re evil, we think they’re stupid), but I think it’s more important, if we have any hope, to at least attempt to listen and understand the concerns.

    “We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality”

    This doesn’t appear to be a new thing, this sense that we’re misunderstood.

    130 years of unbridled progress later, through free-market (albeit imperfect) capitalism, and we’re still unable to present a persuasive case? Despite all the evidence?

    We’re either badly wrong – or we need to rethink how we present ourselves.

  • neonsnake

    you are suggesting an intervention too late in the game.

    Fraser, you might be right, but I hope you’re wrong (hope that makes sense!), and I’ll continue to act as if you’re wrong 😉

    It’s the only way I can live with myself.

    I think, for example, there is no appetite in America for eliminating the minimum wage, or replacing social security with a free market alternative.

    Same here in the UK. It’s a lost battle. The best we can advocate for is a better alternative, one that actually helps people rather than traps them in dependency.

    Re. Education – it’s been a couple of decades since I was in education, but in “my day”, early 90s, we studied Animal Farm and 1984, plus Home Economics, etc etc. My understanding from my colleagues and friends is that times have very much changed. Friend of mine at work has Harvest Festival coming up (remember that?) – she has a prescribed list that she has to buy from for her little one to take in.

    I’ve no idea how to solve that.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m not sure I agree. There is no more regulated business in the world than the nuclear power industry.”

    If there really was a climate emergency caused by CO2, the easiest and fastest way to solve it would be to simply stop regulating nuclear power. The market would do the rest. There would be no need for regulations to prevent it unless it was something energy industry would choose to do on its own if left to its own devices. The reason there is no more heavily regulated business is because without such heavy chains to hold it down, it would take off on its own.

    Uranium has an energy density of about 700,000 MJ/kg, compared to coal having 24 MJ/kg. Put a few kg of it together in a lump, and it gets hot. It’s pretty basic, in principle. For obvious safety reasons, you want to put a bit more thought and engineering into a fail-safe design than selling nuclear-powered kettles in the supermarkets, but that’s been done. The main cost is due to regulation; it takes so long to get approval that the interest on the up-front finance for it dwarf the cost of the actual engineering.

    But if the alternative genuinely was Planetary Doom, it would be a no-brainer that even nuclear power plants blowing up would be the lesser risk. They don’t and won’t, because they don’t believe it’s Planetary Doom either.

  • neonsnake

    They don’t and won’t, because they don’t believe it’s Planetary Doom either.

    Ok. Now spin it, and argue for why Nuclear Power is A Bad Thing.

    Take the Intellectual Turing Test.

    😉

    (I fail utterly when it comes to right-wing racist bollocks, so I’m not being “clever”)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Ok. Now spin it, and argue for why Nuclear Power is A Bad Thing.”

    🙂

    Certainly!

    Firstly, because whatever the economics or engineering says about what the ‘best’ option is (by what criteria?), we’re still a democracy. Voters, right or wrong, have been persuaded that radiatioactivity is super-dangerous. It would be elitist of me to say ‘I know best’, and overrule them, because they’re stupid and don’t know what they’re doing. The first step must be to persuade the public that it is safe, and we haven’t achieved that yet. In the absence of a planetary emergency (which I assert), and arguably even then (winning the public debate should be required as a check against the possibility of error), it would be wrong to get rid of the unecessary regulation by fiat.

    Secondly, because although using nuclear power to generate electricity makes sense on engineering grounds, those are not the only consideration. There is also nuclear weapons proliferation, not just the explosive sort (which modern fuel cycles like IFR won’t produce) but also the possibility of “dirty bombs”. Although there are plenty of purely chemical toxins that could have a similar death toll, terrorism is much more about the public perception of danger than actual danger. As such, the threat of nuclear terrorism is particularly potent. Regulation for safety may be overblown, but that does not mean regulation for security is.

    Thirdly, because it would do bad things to the political stability of the Middle East, which rely on oil money to fund their rise from barbarism. They are under constant pressure to “play nicely” because of their need to trade with the West. Crash the price of oil, throw them into poverty, cease trading with them, and the results are both predictable and nasty. Again, absent an Emergency of Planetary Doom, not worth the hassle.

    Will that do?

    “(I fail utterly when it comes to right-wing racist bollocks, so I’m not being “clever”)”

    We can do that, too. Radiation causes mutations, which would create hundreds of new zombie brain-eating races of humanity, that the commies would immediately grant legal rights to. We would all have to become Survivalists, stock up on guns, and live in fortress compounds up in the mountains. It’s even worse than fluoride in the drinking water, polluting our precious bodily fluids.

    Do I pass?

  • neonsnake

    Will that do?

    Kinda 🙂

    I sense that you’re frustrated with people who don’t share your view that CAGW is so obviously a myth; that therefore it must be a bad faith issue on both the parts of it’s proponents and those that believe them (I’m probably exaggerating or mis-characterising your position slightly).

    With regard to the nuclear power issue, I was wondering if you would be able to see it from the perspective of those against it (rather than your own considerations of the possible downsides), like I attempted with my sketch of a tired, uncertain believer in AGW up above (largely drawn from myself, to be fair).

    It’s a personal opinion, but I find that if I can plausibly construct an argument against, say, capitalism as if I were a full-blooded socialist, then I find it easier to see where the cracks are and more successfully argue against them.

    Can I construct the argument so successfully, that I could fool an observer into thinking I’m a socialist? If so, then I can be confident that I’ve examined the opposing position to a full enough extent, is the theory.

    If you like, think of it as attempting to “be” Mill’s one voice that shouldn’t be silenced 🙂

    (It’s not easy, and it sounds like a silly exercise. As said, I have blind spots where I’m unable, or maybe unwilling, to do it, which I probably need to work on, but I’ve found it very helpful)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I sense that you’re frustrated with people who don’t share your view that CAGW is so obviously a myth; that therefore it must be a bad faith issue on both the parts of it’s proponents and those that believe them”

    Nope. Most of the believers believe because that’s what they’ve been told – by school, by the media, by society – and don’t have the knowledge or training (or any motivating reason) to make an informed assessment of their own. It’s the same as on pretty much any scientific subject. How many people know how electricity works? Or a laser? Or a transistor? Or the Haber Process? People are famously asked questions like whether the sun orbits the Earth or vice versa, and about 20% of people consistently give the wrong answer. (And not just in the USA, as widely reported.) These erroneous beliefs are not about politics. There is no political ideology depending on a belief that the electrons in an electrical power line zip along the wires at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light! Climate science is, for most people, no different.

    Even something as basic to the debate as ‘How does the Greenhouse Effect work?’ is not properly understood even by many of the so-called ‘experts’ on the subject, let alone the layman. And there’s not even any particular ideological or rhetorical reason why they should get it wrong. The correct explanation would be just as effective. I’ve seen physics professors get totally mixed up trying to explain it! And the vast majority of non-scientists (most of them nevertheless with extremely strong opinions on the subject!) are even more ignorant. They certainly don’t believe as they do because they understand the science! However, I don’t doubt their sincerity.

    However, the people running the show – scientists, politicians, media, campaigners – are very well aware of its unscientific, political nature. They’ve participated in the public scientific debate. And their actions betray them. But this is politics.

    “With regard to the nuclear power issue, I was wondering if you would be able to see it from the perspective of those against it”

    Sure. But you said “*Intellectual* Turing Test”, so I assumed we were talking about Mill’s recommendations in “Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” – “The greatest orator, save one, of antiquity, has left it on record that he always studied his adversary’s case with as great, if not with still greater, intensity than even his own. What Cicero practised as the means of forensic success, requires to be imitated by all who study any subject in order to arrive at the truth. He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.”

    However, to see things from the perspective of *most* of the people against nuclear power is easy. Nuclear power is dangerous, being liable to explode, melt-down, or leak radioactive poisons that could kill the planet. And evil warmongers make nuclear bombs from it, threatening global Armageddon. (Remember the ever-so-useful Four Minute Warning?) But those are very easy arguments to refute. Intellectuals would know better. So I was trying to come up with arguments you might possibly take seriously, which I think is more useful.

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