Warming to a theme which I addressed in a post from the Hong Kong Mont Pelerin meeting, I had an article in today’s Herald Sun (not presently on line) which addresses the enemies of wealth and happiness, the regulatory inducing green left. Here is an abridged version.
Former Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, addressed the formidable obstacles to western nations’ resurrecting the economic growth that we took for granted until 2008. These obstacles stem from costs imposed on economic efficiency as a result of activist Non-Government Organisations (NGOs). Those NGOs include Greenpeace and Lock the Gate which have targeted the coal and gas industries in Australia. Their power is amplified when they link with subsidy-seeking businesses.
The most familiar NGO-inspired cost to economic efficiency concerns the greenhouse issue. Irrespective of whether mankind’s carbon dioxide emissions will result in temperature increases, it is China and other developing nations that are driving increased emissions.
Those countries will not cut back energy use as this would deny them living standards comparable with our own. But, hounded by incessant green propaganda and lobbying by renewable energy businesses, Australia, like most developed countries, has emission reduction programs that raise energy costs. Importantly, the Renewable Energy Target requires a large proportion of electricity to be sourced from wind/solar at over three times the cost of coal.
Klaus sees this as a subset of more general regulatory interventions in commercial decisions, whereby bureaucrats channel the aspirations of NGOs to close down major business activities.
The great prize in Australia is the closure of the coal and gas industries responsible for much of the wealth that has allowed us to navigate the global downturn these past six years.
Green NGOs have already achieved success in timber, where they have devised regulatory arrangements that have reduced access to native forests, bringing about a 60 per cent reduction in production. The campaign is now focussing on imports forcing firms to verify that all timber is from forests that have paid their dues to a Greenpeace/WWF protection racket. The Abbott Government’s assault on over-regulation has retained new regulatory measures by the Gillard Government that endorse this. Those regulations require firms to exhaustively research all their supply sources or expose themselves to crippling regulatory penalties.
Such requirements destroy the information benefits provided by prices. Milton Friedman described these in his tract I Pencil. He demonstrated how prices incorporate market developments and demand changes markets so that by responding to price changes firms can make sensible production modifications without the “wholistic” paraphernalia of central planning that inevitably fails.
Greenpeace and WWF are now attempting to trash the image of several global brands, including Pepsi, because they refused to incur the costs of palm oil sourcing controls that was demanded of them.
Many developing countries have recognised the cancer created by these anti-business NGOs. China does not tolerate them and India under Prime Minister Modi has banned several, including Greenpeace. And in the UK, David Cameron’s new minister for civil society has told charities to “stick to their knitting” and keep out of politics.
Gina Rinehart, though she was mainly addressing mining, put her finger on the growing dangers of these NGO-induced regulatory controls when she said, “The government needs to better recognise this and world conditions, including various falling commodity prices and the contraction in jobs in Australia’s mining and related industries — and urgently cut bureaucratic burdens.”