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December 08th 2017 print

Peter Smith

The Joy of Righteous Madness

Had I been born with the gullible gene found so often on the Left, life would be gloriously simple. I would believe, for example, that climate can be regulated by decree and punishing productive people promotes growth. Alas, a blissful immunity to history's lessons is not my happy lot

hanson young IISaw a mad chap on Fox News who heads a group of people who want no national borders and one world government elected by, well, everyone. There will be fewer have-nots apparently. Without catching breath, he blamed the California bushfires on climate change.

There are, and have always been, I guess, eccentric people around with eccentric (unconventional and sightly strange) views. They usually do no harm and are best put up with. But what happens when large mobs take possession of eccentric views or, more correctly, when eccentric views take possession of large mobs. Nothing good is the answer. Effectively the inmates take over the asylum.

This is where we are now. Hordes of people in every land believe that we can control the climate. Hordes, particularly among those under thirty-five, believe that we can share the fruits of production much more equally. There is a large overlap.

I find it unnerving to be sane amid so many inmates. How do I know that I am sane? It’s simple really. I don’t have fanciful ideas about what mankind can control. It used to be called having one’s feet on the ground. So back to the asylum and, first, to economic equality

We know what happens when governments try to impose economic equality. People die in large numbers. Yet old ‘gurus’ devoid of sense — Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, for instance — are heroes among many young people for proposing at best immiseration and at worst gulags. Of course, it is dressed up as fairer shares but we know where it leads.

Bill Shorten is a younger version of the old gurus. He apparently thinks that spending more on education and health while screwing the business sector is the key to riches (and, no doubt, to fairer shares). In a saner world we would pat his head and say no it isn’t, Bill.

Here is a short economics lesson: capitalism powers progress and underpins sustainability. It is by far the least worst economic system. Within capitalism, sharing is part and parcel of producing. Those adding more get more. Those adding little or nothing get little or nothing.

Divorcing sharing from producing cripples the economy. Everyone loses. Is there anything we can do? We can turn to those old standbys supply and demand. Cutting immigration might boost wages and lessen inequality. Perhaps.

When it comes to climate, do you know how many ordinary Joes, professionals and university types, who have bought the storyline, actually understand why a gaggle of guru scientists and their acolytes believe that CO2 emissions will cause the climate to warm catastrophically? Let me tell you. In my experience, none. They all seem to think that the scientists have performed watertight experiments – if they think at all.

In fact, the world is being turned upside down – coal power stations being blown up and power prices jacked up – by a mere theory turned into tendentious black-box computer models all of which have performed very badly in predicting temperature. When the facts change I change my mind, Lord Keynes was reputed to have said. When the facts disagree with our models we double down is today’s version among climate gurus.

The fault with do-gooders in the economic and climate sphere is that the economic system and the climate system are both too complex and dynamic to be understood and manipulated to produce particular outcomes. Sometimes we have to stand back in awe.

Capitalism has inbuilt mechanisms to right the economic ship after storms. A recession isn’t followed by a deeper recession and then by a deeper recession still. The economy recovers and attains new heights. And, I will add, more quickly if the government stays out of it.

Think about climate. Is it easy to construct a story in which the climate gets warmer and warmer without limit and equally cooler and cooler.

Take the alarmist view. CO2 increases. It gets slightly warmer. Evaporation increases producing powerful greenhouse water vapour in the atmosphere. Albedo (reflection of the Sun’s radiation) falls as ice melts. More heat is absorbed by the earth. And so on, ad infinitum, until it gets very hot indeed and then hotter still.

You can play the story the other way around. You don’t actually need CO2; just anything to get the process going one way or the other. In fact, of course, the climate does not behave like this. There must be inbuilt correction mechanisms like, in the case of warming, increased cloud cover reflecting back the Sun’s rays. Who knows?

Well, to be sure, climate scientists know a lot more than me. But, they still know very little of what there is to know. Equally economists know very little of what there is to know about the inner workings of economies – which is why their models perform as badly as do climate models in predicting outcomes.

What species of madness are we dealing with? Contrast it with standing back in awe. It seems to me that ‘delusions of grandeur’ fits the bill. Socialists and some climatologists have managed to convince many people that they have the answers. Absent religion and therefore thirsting for answers, the mobs of today are fertile ground for vainglorious gurus offering earthly salvation.

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

Comments [32]

  1. Tony Tea says:

    “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

    ~~ Mark Twain

  2. ianl says:

    > “Had I been born with the gullible gene found so often on the Left, life would be gloriously simple”

    You simply haven’t yet evolved far enough, Peter. Patience, as Lamarck advised, since he believed that aquired characteristics become inheritable.

    Your comment is accurate enough, although not rare. The following link displays a comment from a rational engineering viewpoint that has the attribute of summarising a common wishlist of the gullible.

    The comment is from a Graeme3 and is at comment #3.

    http://joannenova.com.au/2017/12/another-hidden-cost-of-intermittent-renewables-its-time-to-talk-about-fcas-and-roaring-price-spikes/#comments

  3. Jody says:

    My experience with the ‘progressive’ Left is that they’re mostly unworldly, defensive (for the most) and susceptible to any ratbag idea that comes along. It’s shallowness on steroids. As I said in my talk with my physiotherapist this afternoon, “Jordan Peterson stresses the importance of narrative and myths going way back into our pasts that shape who we are; the Left wants to destroy those myths and narratives and make new ones with themselves at the centre”. Bingo. But where does that leave our young people – particularly children – with the ground under them continually shifting and with no core beliefs? As my physio said, pointing, “that’s a tree right there and it’s nothing but a tree”.

  4. Ian MacDougall says:

    But then again, as the late and great C. Hitchens said, “if it wasn’t for the Left, we would still be living under feudalism.” So, speaking from the political Centre as I see myself doing, they are not all that bad. In the modern world, the sloganeers and seekers after simple solutions of both Left and Right incline to fascism of one kind or another: the Left towards Islam and the Right towards any authoritarianism but Islam.
    The Gini Index (GI) gives us about the best scale of economic equality versus inequality that we have. The World Bank site below gives us 154 countries by decreasing GI and thus rising equality, the latter defined on site. Australia comes in at No. 100: two thirds of the way down the list.
    Here is a selection. Note that the traditionally delightful Scandinavian countries are all well down the list, close to ‘last’.

    1 South Africa 63.38 2011
    63 United States 41.06 2013
    100 Australia 34.94 2010
    107 Canada 33.68 2010
    117 United Kingdom 32.57 2012
    118 Ireland 32.52 2012
    137 Denmark 29.08 2012
    144 Sweden 27.32 2012
    145 Finland 27.12 2012
    146 Iceland 26.94 2012
    151 Norway 25.90 2012
    154 Azerbaijan 16.64 2005

    https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/indicators/SI.POV.GINI/rankings

    • Jody says:

      The Left long ago lost interest in the working people and their welfare; that argument was lost decades ago. They are now into changing our narratives and our myths into those they’ve created themselves, with themselves at the centre. This woman tells SOME of it. (And Hitchens grew to despise the modern Left.) This is what the left has given Europe and Scandinavia:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G811L4a5aZE

    • Jody says:

      Please explain how conservatives/the right advocate authoritarianism of any kind; names please. What kind of authoritarianism and why? I suggest that this comment is standard Left rhetoric which is a projection of their own perfidy. In accusing others they reveal more about themselves; a standard piece of advice from the psychology profession. Things are much more serious than you seem to understand, Ian. By changing all our myths and narratives the Left is putting itself front and centre in the ‘brave new world’. Divisiveness, finger wagging, moral outrage (strangely, in the absence of morality per se), truncheon-carrying conformists using the state to shut people down. These are all remnants of the soviet project and I’ve never been more afraid in my over 60 years of life.

  5. Keith Kennelly says:

    Ian
    Subscribing to the hoax of climate warming with the enthusiasm you have shown and your total anti coal views makes you sit much closer to the Green nut jobs than anywhere near center.

    The dictatorial and murderous Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot we’re all left wing and all inclined to fascism.

    I for the life of me cannot think of one if these types from the right.

    That you think there are, absolutely confirms you are attempting to excuse the left of its authoritarian bent.

    That Ian puts you much much closer to the leftie greens than anyone right centre.

    The sort of reasoning you use is typical of the fuzzy thinking and outright lies of the left wing propaganda. You seem to have swallowed it holds bolas.

  6. Ian MacDougall says:

    “You seem to have swallowed it holds bolas.” Translation from my schoolboy Latin: ‘You seem to have swallowed it no holds barred’. I think that the expression you were looking for is holus bolus. But that is by the way.
    Across the long history of our species, when all of humanity was in the hunter-gatherer stage, pre-Agricultural Revolution, the largest human groups were of around 30-50 people, as was the case with the Aborigines pre-1788. With the rise of Agriculture came settlements, granaries, villages, towns, cities and empires; and with them permanent armies and police forces. It was at this point that Lord Acton’s famous dictum cut in: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And unfortunately, that corruption was not susceptible to being selected out by the processes identified by Charles Darwin.
    In fact, Hitler was of the Right in German politics, which was how he persuaded the German industrialists to give him their support. He assured the latter that they faced no danger of being expropriated and nationalised, and he persecuted the German Left and consigned all the communists, social democrats and liberals he could track down to the extermination camps.
    Stalin, who was educated mainly through training in an Orthodox monastery, was in the context of the Russian Revolution well to the Right, and was opposed by the Left Opposition, until he had them all murdered. So I suppose you could call him the original ‘Mad Monk’.
    In general, the Left opposes the concentration of wealth and power, and favours wide distribution of both. The Right favours concentration of both, with rationalisations supplied free of charge. But then what I call The Blowfly Theory of Political Economy cuts in, affecting both Left and Right alike. And that puts me, according to my own perspective, in the Centre.

    Subscribing to the hoax of climate warming with the enthusiasm you have shown and your total anti coal views makes you sit much closer to the Green nut jobs than anywhere near center.

    I counted three assumptions in that which you have arguably swallowed holitis bolitis. See if you can lift your blinkers high enough to find them.
    Good luck. You will definitely need it.

    • ianl says:

      > “See if you can lift your blinkers high enough to find them”

      Oh dear …

      Read this and discuss the *facts* therein. Arm waving, straw men, ad homs, topic evasion, change of topic – not permitted. I realise you may find that limiting.

      https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41748-017-0020-z

      You are clearly unwilling to change this agrarian socialist outlook you espouse, but you are liable to circumvention. Do grasp that. You will definitely need it.

      Rewrite history all you wish (it makes no difference), but not the *empiricism* of science, wrested as it was through the Enlightenment with much blood and treasure expended in the process. Such expenditure is de rigeur for ideology, not rationality.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        ianl (or whatever your real name is):

        Conclusion
        The reconstructed tide gauge records of Aden, Mumbai and Karachi are perfectly consistent with multiple lines of evidence from other key sites of the Indian Ocean including Qatar, Maldives, Bangladesh and Visakhapatnam. The sea levels have been stable since the start of the twentieth century in Aden similar to Karachi and Mumbai.

        Well bully for them towns!
        http://sealevel.colorado.edu/ gives a different answer, based on Topex and Poseidon satellite altimetry, accurate to +/- 0.4 mm, and endorsed by the CSIRO, The Royal Society, the AAAS and nearly 200 world scientific organisations in all.
        But not the Ostrich School of Climatology, of which you apparently are a proud member.
        Ah well. You can lead a horse to water…

        • ianl says:

          > “Arm waving, straw men, ad homs, topic evasion, change of topic – not permitted. I realise you may find that limiting.”

          and then:

          > “Well bully for them towns!”

          and:

          > “the Ostrich School of Climatology … and blah and blah”

          Yep – way too limiting. What a silly little maroon the trollster is.

          Didn’t, in fact couldn’t, read the paper (just a bit of the abstract). Couldn’t discuss it, just quotes alphabet soup irrelevant to the point of the paper. Knows nothing of isostasy, eustasy, subsidence, deposition and doesn’t care that he doesn’t know. Doesn’t know that the satellite altimetry he keeps quoting is standardised annually off the very tide gauges he dismisses with such insouciant ignorance.

          What a silly little maroon.

        • Keith Kennelly says:

          Ahhem Ian. NASA date?

    • Jody says:

      Actually, I have heard a lecture where it is suggested that fascism in Italy and Germany were both socialist and of the Left; National ‘SOCIALISM’ is what they called it. State-sponsored violence, wealth redistribution, naming and shaming, finding scapegoats (Jews) and reliance upon the state to do everything for the people; though control and propaganda about the overall health and improvement of the state through government – this is classic socialist rhetoric and action; well, Marxism really. The only difference is the uniforms. But difference from what? Communists in Russia and China paraded about in uniforms in the socialist utopia.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        Jody,
        Socialism is dead. Totally dead. In Russia, China and everywhere else bar North Korea, where it is staggering about, with Kim Jong Un’s sabre-rattling an indicator only of the internal economic crisis of the North Korean economy. The more he threatens, the worse we can assume that it is.
        But Hitler only used the label ‘Socialist’ as a label for marketing his violent and imperialistic product to the German population; amidst the economic crisis of the Great Depression, with unemployment around 33% from memory.
        If you are taken in by Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party label, when in reality he was jailing and murdering every socialist his cops could lay their hands on, then you should check any bottles of Rosella Tomato Sauce you may have in your pantry for parrot feathers.

        • Jody says:

          Of course Hitler was a butcher, but he was also a socialist and I’m not praising ‘socialism’ – quite the reverse. In short, the deep state relied upon him and big government to build the nation and support the people. Much was nationalized and the Jews, who owned the businesses, were pilloried for being ‘successful’ when others went hungry. The state controlled the peoples’ physical fitness and all other aspects of their lives – that’s the pointy end of the deep state, courtesy of socialism. The Jews were loathed (and still are when you talk to some Germans!) because of their success. That’s the schtick of the Left and socialism; class war, resentment and envy. And Hitler got those people out of their Depression and back into work; it was socialism the same as Roosevelt’s New Deal – only the Americans discarded it in the long term, as did the Germans. The rest of the old socialists are now communists in repression and control; but lest there be any confusion, it’s not the Right which has controlled people historically but the Left which used wealth redistribution under the guise of the benevolent state to do its dreadful business. It’s a myth that Hitler was a right wing dictator; a mistake people make because of the uniforms, when the communists used them too. There is absolutely no chance of individual prosperity under socialism or communism. It’s all about the state and that’s why I despise it.

          • Warty says:

            There has been much debate as to whether or not the Nazis were socialists or far right. If you look at their economic policies one would have to recognise the strong socialist underpinnings. If you look at the party’s name (The National Socialist Party) then you couldn’t help notice ‘Socialist’ wedged in the middle of it. But the predominantly nationalist thrust in their ideology (not the uniforms, not the militarism) but the focus on the well-being of one country (theirs) then the drive was no different to Bismarck’s, who sought to gather all the disparate Germanic states under the umbrella of Prussian hegemony. That, surely, is a nationalist ideology.
            Your comparison with Roosevelt’s New Deal, Jody, is accurate, but Hitler would have been incapable of achieving what he did without usurping the means of ‘the state’ to further his own ends. And not all industrialists needed to be forced to comply: many were on side almost from the outset.
            Marx, Lenin and Trotsky all envisaged universal socialism, and it was only when the USSR realised that capitalism wasn’t going to capitulate that the concept of socialism in one country was allowed to replace the Marxist ideal, though successive politburos continued to work on the soft underbellies of the Middle East, Africa and South America. China maintained its focus in Asia, before ‘falling’ for the full market economy bit. China is now falling back on more than a thousand years of client state relationships with those countries in Asia, and now Africa, that it can manipulate into its orbit.
            We are addicted to ‘boxes’, which is why we attempt to put Hitler’s Germany into either the left or the right. What is interesting is that the modern European socialist aligns ‘Nazi Germany’ with the far right, yet AntiFa is nominally an anti fascist movement, albeit one that adopts fascist tactics to further their own version of totalitarianism. Significance? You cannot use the charge of ‘totalitarianism’ as being definitive of either far left or far right, as both employ that little bit of misinformation.

          • Homer Sapien says:

            The Movie “Die Welle” gives you a good idea why Hitler was so successful.It could happen again, in any country.

    • en passant says:

      MacBot,
      You have to be kidding yourself (though not us). Is there any subject on which you are not a garrulous export and bore? You are like a cultist priest (actually, you are a cultist priest) as you never answer the questions put to you, but simply go into a guru’s trance and repeat your mantra: “The sea levels are rising at 3mm/year (give or take 2mm) and will swamp en passant’s beach home in only 300 years, or 60 years or 3,000 years – maybe. The “Deep Thought’ computer model oracle has spoken and the outcome is certain with a 97% chance …
      (ho hum …
      http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/12/06/tidalgate-climate-alarmists-caught-faking-sea-level-rise/

      “Oh MacBot Guru, what is the destination you seek to save the planet? What is the ideal global average temperature and why? And, what is the ideal concentration of CO2 if 404ppm is too high?”

      Oh All-Knowing Guru! Why are you fleeing and not answering, is it because you have no idea and are beyond parodying and mockery or have you gone to consult the Archangel Gabriel who speaks to you in a back paddock (how strange are the ways of god?) or are you saving the planet by collecting the methane produced by your cattle?

      One last question: when does you subscription expire?

      • Jody says:

        You are deeply offensive and it’s people like you who have ruined “Quadrant” for me and why I’m not renewing my subscription. Bullies pervade the internet.

        • Ian MacDougall says:

          Take no notice of the poor bastard, Jody. He obviously can’t help himself.

          • en passant says:

            MacBot Guru,
            Answer the question.

            Jody,
            I will buy out your unexpired subscription so you don’t have to keep sign in in and reading offensive stuff. Umm, why do you sign in?

        • Warty says:

          Or you might remain because of the articles (which are infinitely more important) or because not all of us engage in personal attacks, in fact the majority don’t.

          • Keith Kennelly says:

            Naaaahhh

            Jody doesn’t have the self control not to read what’s in here.

            I told her that once before, when she announced she’d not bother reading my comments.

            True to form she still does and will continue

  7. Keith Kennelly says:

    Ian

    You are beyond the pall.

    Hitler was a socialist.
    Albert Speer directed the industrialists. They had no choice.
    Socialism morphs into dictatorial regimes and they murder anyone who stands in their way.

    Mate denier that you are … ocean levels are still falling

  8. Keith Kennelly says:

    Hohohohoh

    Kettle black … Anyone.

  9. Keith Kennelly says:

    Hohohohohi

    No, I wrote pall, actually.

  10. Keith Kennelly says:

    Btw

    Jody

    Many times in here I’ve said Hitler was a socialist.

    I’d say you got that from me.

    And given you’ve now claimed it as yours, I’m pleased I’ve informed and persuaded other people to my view.

  11. Keith Kennelly says:

    ‘lose strength or effectiveness; become or appear boring, insipid, or tiresome (to)’

    Guess what word has this meaning,
    And it describes Alan’s attitudes perfectly.

    I prefer imagination to trite Jody.

    Your interpretation defines you.

  12. Finn MacCool says:

    I think the appeal of socialism is being driven by the capitalist system being seriously out of kilter. There is a lack of simple and middle range jobs due to the use of offshoring of manufacturing. Higher skilled jobs are being replaced by computerisaton (so called robotics). Capitalism needs consumers who need jobs. The people who are actually making the goods are not our consumers. I see an increasing number of workers in insecure employment living in an expensive country. Little wonder the lure of “free” stuff is attractive.

  13. en passant says:

    19 comments by everyone on Team A

    13 comments by Ian MacBot / Jody on Team B