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July 11th 2014 print

Peter Smith

Insane, Inane and Fit Only To Be Ignored

The right to make blanket pronouncements at odds with known facts and predictable consequences is the greatest privilege the Left bestows on its various factions and lobbies. Debate such people? Pretend they sentient adults? Better to ignore their blather, lest we all up in the asylum

cognitive dissonanceI saw Bernie Fraser, former head of Treasury and the Reserve Bank, and now chair of the Climate Change Authority, explaining that Australia could reach a much higher target of carbon dioxide abatement — to do our bit for the world — by buying dirt-cheap emission-reduction certificates from overseas. I couldn’t detect any sign of amusement. Surely he was holding it in, playing it poker-faced as befits a senior public servant, I thought.

Apparently “credible” certificates can be bought overseas for about one dollar each. So, instead of reducing emissions by a tonne of carbon dioxide, we could pay a dollar to help save the world.

It is no surprise that the Business Council and Australian Industry Group are supportive. The logic is compelling: one dollar versus the current price of $25. Industry lobby groups would be remiss if they failed to see the boon to their members of basking in the national glory of reducing emissions while not actually having to reduce emissions.

Quite separately, the Democrats’ Nancy Pelosi was explaining in Washington that Central Americans who are placing their children in the keeping of people smugglers for the journey through Mexico to the US are Americans ‘just like us’. She wants One Big America. She has five children and nine grandchildren and loves children. “I wish that I could take all those children home with me,” she said.

Ms Pelosi and her husband are very rich, so I imagine they could easily absorb, say, fifty or one hundred, even two hundred, Central American waifs without noticing. Alas, the Pelosi mansions and estates are not yet ringing with the sounds of Spanish and happy waifs at play.

How do I connect the dots between these two disparate events? Exactly in the same way as did some wealthy men  with troublesome wives in the 19th Century. To them, any untoward behaviour (for example, the absence of sexual desire or, alternatively, too much sexual desire) was a symptom of “female hysteria”. While history and medical science has proved this malady entirely fictitious, not to say sexist, I am convinced that left-wing hysteria will be shown by history and neurological science to be pervasive, galloping and real.

A sure sign of mental instability, in this case of left-wing hysteria, is a complete lack of reason and foresight. I will give another example: Labor spin doctor Bruce Hawker recently said, as repetitively do his fellow travellers, that the previous government left a national debt which compares very favourably with those of most other countries.

Is it possible to imagine a sane person making this claim? It is so audaciously ridiculous that the sane are left spluttering. To take debt from zero to 30% of GDP in just six years while building in poison pills to ensure it will grow and grow and then claim that everything was hunky-dory is surely a type of madness. The fact that we have not yet reached the heady and destructive heights of Greece and Spain et al is no rational basis for self-congratulation. Therein hides the key. Such thinking just isn’t “rational”.

Conservatives in the US puzzle over Pelosi’s utterances. They simply cannot work out how she could possibly think that the US might take all comers. You can see them with furrowed brows trying to apply reason to make sense of it; to understand the other view. Forget it. Personally, I have given up. You haven’t?

Alright, I challenge you: make sense of those who believe that we are in mortal danger of wild weather, deluged coastal plains, submerge islands, crop failures on vast scales, rampant heat exhaustion and the disintegration of barrier reefs – in other words, the cataclysmic end of the world as we know it — arguing that buying certificates at a dollar each will help solve the problem.

Come on, admit it, none of it is sane.

Make sense of swamping the US with millions of Mexicans, Central Americans, and South Americans while, at the same time, believing that the US can remain the beacon of hope and not become a complete basket case mirroring the societies from which people are fleeing.

People make countries. Australia, like the US, is a magnet not because of some serendipitous accident of nature. It is because of who we are as people, formed by our forebears and the institutions they built and which we, in turn, must cherish or perish. Only so much swamping and dilution is bearable before we become basket-case lookalikes.

Different points of view must be entertained in a free and civilised society. But it’s time to stop trying to see the other point of view when it is clearly both inane and destructive as a direct consequence. It would be like going to a lecture on the social rationale for honour killings. There is no point of view there, just galloping hysteria.

 

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics