A reply to Robert Manne by an ageing conservative white male

I have an article at Quadrant Online in reply to Robert Manne’s “A Dark Victory” published in The Monthly for August which he had subtitled “how vested interests defeated climate science”. The theme of my reply is built around his observation that far and away the largest identifiable group on the sceptical side were what he described as “ageing conservative white males”, that is, people just like me. I think there is therefore quite a lot to be said for my little ACWM cohort but it also got me to wonder how it came about that we were so perceptive in this way. The article therefore deals with the various scientific frauds we had lived through and had learned from including, amongst others, Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb, The Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth, the “Global Cooling” issue that emerged in the 1970s when temperatures were falling, and then the Y2K phenomenon, an almost perfect parallel to the global warming debate in that the entire “scientific” community of computer scientists insisted we had a real problem that had to be fixed if we were to forestall massive economic dislocation.

But my main point was what being a conservative in this ACWM classification brings to the debate. It is the attack on our personal freedoms that is at the core of those who pursue global warming as an issue. The paths to power come in many forms and the will to power lies in many a heart. What a conservative temperament is wary of before all is the uses made of any and every vehicle that comes to hand to undermine the freedoms we have accumulated over the centuries. Global warming may have begun as a scientific theory but the debate is not just about science.

As an ageing conservative white male my hope is to pass on to the next generation a world of rising prosperity and greater personal freedom. It is not a small matter that to follow the Robert Mannes of the world would mean that we would leave behind a world far less prosperous and far less free than it is today. Manne treats these as if they are trivial matters, that given the speculations of these climate scientists, thinking about the effects on our standard of living or on personal freedom should be mere dust on the balance, given virtually no weight at all.

This is the part of the global warming debate that is usually left out. But given that there are no facts about the future, there are tremendous social and political risks that are almost never brought into this debate. Only economic losses are usually considered as the costs of dealing with global warming. But the economic losses, which are potentially immense, are really only one part of what needs to be considered when dealing with those who wish to ride to political power in the here and now on the back of promises to protect us from the end of the earth some 75 years into the future. If I don’t trust them, I have some very good reasons for that mistrust.

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116 Responses to A reply to Robert Manne by an ageing conservative white male

  1. ”…The theme of my reply is built around his observation that far and away the largest identifiable group on the sceptical side were what he described as “ageing conservative white males”…”

    Sounds a bit like Robert Manne too, doesn’t it?

    Case of the pot calling the kettle black white?

  2. Can Steve Kates bring to our attention the concern about what “personal freedoms” he is losing under, say, the current carbon pricing scheme?

    Personally, I find it hard to get uptight about using energy efficient light bulbs, but I suppose that is one example.

    Similarly, the right to build a really badly insulated house is being restricted; but most people like the idea of not having to spend electricity to be hotter or cooler if that is possible.

    I haven’t been able to have a bonfire in my backyard for many a year before AGW was a concern. If I were a farmer I guess I have restrictions on land clearing for AGW reasons, although (again) this was actually an environmental concern before AGW was a motivating factor.

    So, what are the personal freedom issues?

  3. Des Deskperson

    Manne would of course reply that he is not a conservative.

    But does Manne provide any data to back up his assertion, or is it, as they say, ‘anecdotal’?

    If it is anecdotal, then it would be equally valid to put forward the proposition that far and away the largest identifiable group on the warmist side are people on taxpayer funded incomes in jobs where there are few realistic performance measures and where involuntary termination is for all practical purposes impossible. That’s certainly my observation.

  4. duncan

    let’s ignore your straw man carbon scheme, SFB, since Steve didn’t mention it.

    How about ‘suspension of democracy’ for starters.

  5. Jc

    So, what are the personal freedom issues?

    You can be fined 1.5 mill for saying the oxide tax has adversely impacted your business. That’s the first one off the top of my head.

    I’ll post more later doofus.

    You always lead with your chin.

  6. .

    Suspension of democracy
    Ludwig’s press gag
    Fines for saying carbon tax ups prices
    Repeal in part of the ancient Charter of the Forest

  7. You can be fined 1.5 mill for saying the oxide tax has adversely impacted your business.

    No, you are lying.

    Repeal in part of the ancient Charter of the Forest

    Oh for goodness sake…

  8. JC

    No, you are lying.

    Nope. I’m not. You are.

  9. brc

    If you’d bothered to read and understand the article, you’d understand that it’s about people assigning infinite risk to unproven events, then using that as a base to build power and wealth. Carbon pricing wasn’t even mentiond, as duncan says.

    Let’s assume that the proposed solutions of a UN department to create a global tax regime based on carbon emissions succeeds. Let’s assume that this – somehow – solves or mitigates the ‘problem’.

    Will the people involved be satisfied? Or will they clamour for more power and control. If we’re looking at problems with infinite risk and minimal – or sufficiently indecisive – evidence, then how many cannot be solved without asking every person in the world to devote two out of seven days effort?

    The perfect example is the TSA. Created to fix the problem of ‘infinite risk’ – that of being killed on an airplane through the actions of a terrorist. First it was just a formalisation of existing airport security under the Federal banner.

    Less than a decade later and you’re herded like cattle, force to undress, go through x-ray scanning, have strangers rifle through your belongings and confiscate your water and nail clippers. And they’re still not satisfied. The TSA is actively seeking to expand operations to bus-stops, subways and random vehicle searches. All to stop the infinite risk of terrorist killing someone. All the while car accidents, accidental drownings and medical malpractice kills far more people per year than terrorists ever did.

    When will the TSA be satisfied? When will enough power be enough? How many more freedoms can they take away without even asking?

    The problem with perpetual bedwetting over mostly-imaginary risks is that it’s easy to turn over the world GDP to solving them, but still finding more.

    As Steve says – the loss of freedoms, the loss of quality of life – these aren’t even entered into the balance. Like everything with lunatic, wild-eyed activists, its’ all costs, never any benefit.

    Loss of personal freedoms eventually means loss of economic freedoms. Loss of economic freedoms is a one-way street to falling productivity, which leads to a fall in quality of life, and a reversal of a centuries old trend in peoples lot in life getting better.

  10. blogstrop

    A far more appropriate use of media controls (if they are to exist in any effective way at all) would be to penalise and rectify those including the ABC who have not just concealed or omitted the sceptical side of the AGW argument, but who have gone out of their way to denigrate it, just as our waste-of-space trolls. And before they start to bang on again about being allowed to put their side of the argument, I have to say that their side has had so much exposure it hardly seems necessary to give them any more.

  11. .

    Repeal in part of the ancient Charter of the Forest

    Oh for goodness sake…

    The Magna Carta is not an important document to wannabe left wing Maoists such as yourself.

    You’re an idiot basically Steve. A ball-less man who mocks women for femininity and an ahistorical buffoon.

    You prefer a crook like Gillard to tell us what to do than to preserve ancient rights.

    Constitutionalists might look like kooks – but at least they are not fucking space cadets like mindless supporters of the most unpopular PM in Australian history.

    I’d rather be a quirky sort of academic than a stupid kid who dresses up in a tracksuit and attends a mass suicide – which will be like you at the ALP 2013 election afterparty.

  12. Simon

    Mr Kates is losing the right to utilize the cheapest possible energy available, to farm in the the most efficient and productive way, to reduce poverty equitably, and to invest in thriving businesses now made marginally illegitimate. He has lost the right to not pay for someone elses mental anguish and other countries economic history though has played no role in either. He has had his legacy eroded by by current spendthrifts and dogooders for no calcuable gain whatsoever, effectively rendering two centuries of science and social progression utterly defunct merely to allow a group of sad ageing hippy marxists a 20 year sunset before evident banal senility.
    The cold war might have ended 20 years ago in reality but the universities like communist madrassas are still churning out this level of elitest terrorist to ruin any peace that might be had(There is one lord and he is Global warming Robert Manne is his prophet). It really says soemthing when the overschooled but underexperienced middleclass have become the enemy of free society all to maintain privileges over the poor and genuinely troubled. There is no science only conjecture, there is no evidence only historical data spreads and there is no problem except that experts have become irrelevent by their own hand and can now see why they should never involve themselves in politics.

  13. Another

    I don’t think the comparison to Y2k was a good one. There was a real problem, but it was *fixed*. The main danger areas were in ancient bank systems and the like.
    It did get oversold to consumers…

  14. .

    Robèr Manne?

    Stephen Colbèr?

  15. “Straw man” duncan!

    The suggestion that Hamilton’s careless reference to that has anything to do with the current carbon pricing scheme is the biggest straw man of all.

    You know where this is going I guess:

    * if you want to maximise freedom in response to an environmental issue, you price it and let the market sort it out. Hansen himself does not like “cap and trade” because he thinks it is too easily abused, but he is for straight forward pricing carbon.

    * it is the opposition to any form of carbon pricing at all that has led to Obama trying the regulatory route to limit emissions.

    * it is the environmentalists position that if you delay doing anything regarding greenhouse reductions, you will ultimately make it more likely that government direct intervention in all sorts of things will be needed in response. In other words, they are happy to see freedom preserved as much as possible by taking market affecting measures now.

    It is the “conservative white men” who for spurious and ideological reasons are disputing mainstream scientific advice who are the ultimately making freedom limiting measures more likely in future.

  16. .

    It is the “conservative white men” who for spurious and ideological reasons

    No.

    Freedom is not spurious and is above reproach.

  17. brc

    if you want to maximise freedom in response to an environmental issue, you price it and let the market sort it out. Hansen himself does not like “cap and trade” because he thinks it is too easily abused, but he is for straight forward pricing carbon.

    Fine, let’s do this then. But no caps, collars, floors or synthetic amounts. A proper market where demand and supply are dictated by free people acting of their own free will. Free to buy or sell, participate or give it a miss.

    The market has already sorted this out. It says the price of a carbon credit is about 1-5c/tonne. But you bedwetters didn’t like that result, so now you’re insisting on forcing people to pay.

    It is the “conservative white men” who for spurious and ideological reasons are disputing mainstream scientific advice who are the ultimately making freedom limiting measures more likely in future.

    Utter, utter crap. Mainstream scientific advice does not include political solutions. Only activist bedwetting BS merchants like Hansen stray into political territory.

  18. Gab

    The suggestion that Hamilton’s careless reference to

    the suspension of democracy

    You’re a freaking totalitarian little shit, SFB.

  19. JC

    Watch out everyone. Stepford’s is trying out his new military style knee pads on Happy Hamilton now. Don’t look. It’s ugly.

  20. blogstrop

    Hansen himself does not like “cap and trade” because he thinks it is too easily abused, but he is for straight forward pricing carbon.

    Way to go, SfB, quoting Hansen as if he’s someone with any remaining authority. Just like yourself, really, a bankrupt currency.

  21. brc

    @another : y2k main problems were fixed years before 1999. But with the scare in full steam with the media, those who could fan the flames and sell the smoke made a lot of bucks.

    The problem was only ever going to be bank interest, insurance systems and the like that depend on date-heavy calculations. Planes were never going to fall from the sky, lifts were never going to stop operating.

    But it must be remembered the lawyers picnic that y2k was – everyone points the finger at the computing industry- but forgets the reams of lawyers which were running around preparing to sue any company which didn’t have a triplicate-stamped show of best effort to mitigate the problems.

  22. JC

    Hansen isn’t an economist nor is he an engineer, Step, you fucking moron.

    The mental depressive lunatic is a political advocate. That is all.

  23. Lysander Spooner

    Manne makes me ashamed to be a social sciences academic.

  24. You’re a freaking totalitarian little shit, SFB.

    That was unnecessary, Gab. Isn’t there a shoe sale on somewhere?

  25. By the way: I am not saying I agree totally with Manne’s take on this in the article.

    He strongly supports the return of Kevin Rudd: he is not a man whose judgement is entirely to be trusted!

  26. Jarrah

    “Fine, let’s do this then. But no caps, collars, floors or synthetic amounts. A proper market where demand and supply are dictated by free people acting of their own free will. Free to buy or sell, participate or give it a miss.”

    The only problem is, no-one owns the atmosphere, so there’s no market incentive to limit greenhouse gas emissions to the optimal level. There can be no naturally emerging market.

  27. You’re a freaking totalitarian little shit, SFB.

    Gab, you know Hamilton has denied he was advocating the “suspension of democracy”. It was careless of him to use the phrase without being specific as to his meaning, then.

  28. Gab

    You just don’t get, SFB. To even think about a suspension of democracy in order to force people to “believe” in the AGW scam is offensive. To gladly speak out loud about it confirms the inner totalitarian each and every AGW scammer, like you, harbors.

  29. JC

    How could he deny what he said, dickhead. He attempted to excuse himself by stating that he only suggested such a thing but wasn’t supporting it. This back tracking came after the gleaming cue ball began to get serious about it.

    In other words it’s transparent bullshit. He was implicitly supporting it at the beginning and deserves nothing but scorn and contempt.

    Stop the kneed padding.

  30. C.L.

    Keep going, Steve.

    Pay no attention to them.

    More and more comments from you and Jarrah are sure to bolster the warmening cause and make Australians desperately concerned about it.

  31. brc

    The only problem is, no-one owns the atmosphere, so there’s no market incentive to limit greenhouse gas emissions to the optimal level. There can be no naturally emerging market.

    But you’re arguing that people cannot value a commons. But they can. They just assign very little value to it. You can’t argue that people are not informed – most people have been brow-beaten for 20 or 30 years with this stuff, ignorance of it would be very low. But the people – correctly I might add – assign less value to 2032 than they do to 2012. They assign even less value to 2082 when they will be dead. They only way you can get assumptions that the value of the future is equal to now is to use a stupid discount rate.

    Is it a shame that the human condition cannot fundamentally plan beyond their own lifetime, but then the human condition has a lot of flaws, like the need to cling to religions and kill each other.

    One of the worst being people perpetually believing in utopias and that the collective must be more important than the individual. We’ve been stuck with this crap since at least Ancient Greece and despite gains made along the way, you socialists keep coming back to it like a dog to it’s vomit.

    Quite apart from all of that, your whole argument flops with ‘emissions at the optimal level’.

    What’s that level? What’s the optimal level for the AUD?

    The answer is that there isn’t one. There are only winners and losers at any level. And that’s assuming climate sensitivity at IPCC levels, which don’t appear to be correct.

    The market does exist, it’s just that people, by and large, value current consumption over future consumption. Now, that might upset the bedwetters, but so do a lot of other things. Time you all started to deal with it.

  32. Make it

    more likely that government direct intervention in all sorts of things will be needed in response..

    There you go again with the ‘Government Direct Action’

    Like Pink Batts…
    Double priced school halls…
    Petrol watch…
    Grocery watch…

    We’d rather keep our money and the Government stick to picking up the garbage thanks…

  33. To even think about a suspension of democracy in order to force people to “believe” in the AGW scam is offensive.

    Err, I think he probably had in mind that the “suspension of democracy” scenario not as a way of “forcing people to believe” Gab, but rather as a way of getting long term certainty as to the response.

    Somehow, I doubt that any Greenies anywhere in the world are secretly having meetings about how to suspend democracy because not enough people believe in AGW yet. They’re not keen on guns and don’t have the desire to get into civil war.

    But you can go on being paranoid about Hamilton’s meaning if you want. It’s a free country in which to be selectively stupid.

  34. JC

    Somehow, I doubt that any Greenies anywhere in the world are secretly having meetings about how to suspend democracy

    Ummmm Wasn’t Finkelstein adopted at the command of the then PM Bob Brown to lock up the “hate media”.

    Fuck off, you knee padding transparently shallow moron.

  35. brc

    Somehow, I doubt that any Greenies anywhere in the world are secretly having meetings about how to suspend democracy

    Just like there are no clandestine meetings of Big Oil deniers, eh? Oh that’s right, Gina Rinehardt spent pocket money on sponsoring Monckton to do a speaking tour so she could build Alpha Coal.

    Maybe you could comment on Bob Browns’ desire to regulate the media and create a one world government? Neither sounds particularly democratic to me.

  36. JC

    They’re not keen on guns and don’t have the desire to get into civil war.

    Most a fucking metrosexual cowards who destroy stuff when people aren’t looking.

    SYDNEY: In the early hours of July 14, Greenpeace protestors gained illegal entry into an experimental CSIRO operated farm near Canberra and destroyed a crop of genetically modified (GM) wheat

  37. JamesK

    Somehow, I doubt that any Greenies anywhere in the world are secretly having meetings about how to suspend democracy

    I agree.

    There’s nothing terribly secret about their agenda on that score

  38. Pedro

    “Most a fucking metrosexual cowards who destroy stuff when people aren’t looking”

    JC, I think a key distinguishing feature of the average metrosexual is a detailed attention to grooming. While you’re average green activist is a walking organic farm.

  39. JamesK

    The Reds rather than the Greens still campaign to win elections:

    Sean Penn joins Chavez on campaign in Venezuela

    (Reuters) – U.S. actor Sean Penn joined President Hugo Chavez at an election rally in Venezuela on Sunday, bringing a dash of Hollywood to the campaign as he rode with him atop a truck past cheering supporters.

    Penn is a friend of Chavez, who hopes to win a new six-year term on October 7. The campaign has turned into the toughest fight of the president’s political career.

    “Thank you very much for visiting us again, dear friend,” Chavez said after introducing Penn to the big crowd in the central city of Valencia.

  40. JamesK

    While you’re average green activist is a walking organic farm.

    Like your Clive Hamilton Pancho?

  41. Pedro

    JC, you were wrong about the fines. They apply if you use the carbon tax to wrongly claim justification for a price rise. In other words, the behaviour prohibited is a form of fraud. SFB mightn’t be correct very often, but lets not deny him the occasions win.

  42. JC

    JC, I think a key distinguishing feature of the average metrosexual is a detailed attention to grooming. While you’re average green activist is a walking organic farm.

    Fair enough. Lol

  43. Pedro

    What are you on about now JamesK?

  44. JC thinks that because they can use whipper snippers, Greenpeace people are capable of organising a suspension of democracy.

    I will be very happy when the current wave of paranoia and inability to think straight that has infected large sections of the Right is over.

  45. Jarrah

    “Quite apart from all of that, your whole argument flops with ‘emissions at the optimal level’. What’s that level?”

    Obviously, the level where the benefits of emitting outweigh the costs. Markets are excellent for determining that type of optimal level when all the relevant factors can be priced into the market. But when costs of emissions don’t have a price impact, they can’t be internalised, and the optimal level can’t be reached.

  46. JamesK

    I’m tired of bashing jarrah.

    Can someone else deal with his latest stupidly incorrect bilge?

  47. JC

    JC thinks that because they can use whipper snippers, Greenpeace people are capable of organising a suspension of democracy.

    Happy Hamilton, Mad Dog Brown, Tubbsie Milne and Repungant Rhiannon would all be more than happy suspending democracy given the opportunity.

    This what you said, dickhead.

    Somehow, I doubt that any Greenies anywhere in the world are secretly having meetings about how to suspend democracy

    It’s different to what you’re saying now.

  48. JC

    JC, you were wrong about the fines. They apply if you use the carbon tax to wrongly claim justification for a price rise. In other words, the behaviour prohibited is a form of fraud. SFB mightn’t be correct very often, but lets not deny him the occasions win.

    1. It needs a 1.5 million dollar fine? Is this the normal fine for fraud ?

    2. You think it has no chilling effect to prevent people from coming out and saying so if they think the hammer of the state is coming at them?

    Please. It was meant to quell legitimate dissent.

  49. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    It’s like the nuclear war angst of CND times when young people queried whether it was worth going on, worth having children and aiming for the good life and the conquest of poverty. Turned out it was worth doing all of those things. Today, with far less reason for fear than during the insanity of the Arms Race, a whole generation has been frightened off growth and development by global warming hysterias. They have been ‘persuaded’ (told) to trade in their future and the improving future of millions for something chimeric at present and likely to be chimeric in the future. A bad deal.

  50. JC

    JC, you were wrong. Just admit it.

    You bought the military style knee pads I alerted you that were on sale on E-bay. Just admit it.

  51. Pedro

    “Obviously, the level where the benefits of emitting outweigh the costs. Markets are excellent for determining that type of optimal level when all the relevant factors can be priced into the market. But when costs of emissions don’t have a price impact, they can’t be internalised, and the optimal level can’t be reached.”

    You sure bout that Jarrah? The cost is an externality. Markets are very sucky at determining the optimum level of an externality. That requires a regulatory decision, such as setting a limit to the number of permits. Tradeable permits are a market approach to reduce the cost of reducing the externality. To the extent an optimum level is achieved that will be the result of a guess or the long run management of the number of permits until the balancing price is achieved.

    It also begs the question whether you can calculate the cost in money terms. The AGW cost of our emissions is zero.

    My long standing point about carbon taxes, as compared to permit trading, is that the tax does not result in a predictable level of emissions so the temptation is to keep fiddling with the tax until the required emissions level is achieved.

  52. Robert Blair

    I see a parallel between the AGW catastrophe, to avoid which drastic measures are justified, and the Marxist ‘historically inevitable’ paradise. To achieve which drastic measures are justified.

    The main parallel is that both will never actually happen in any living adults lifetime – they are always just over the time horizon.

    It’s actually quite elegant really …

  53. .

    I believe that about five million voluntary emissions reductions were traded in Australia last year, at the value of 3 AUD/VER (1 VER = 1 tonne CO2).

    http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/will-voluntary-market-live-plant-another-tree

    If anyone can scope the market pre GFC and pre widespread ETS around the globe, it would be illuminating.

    People also put a premium on perceived quality of environmental protection.

    http://www.nber.org/papers/w15294

    This paper investigates factors that explain the large variability in the price of voluntary carbon offsets. We estimate hedonic price functions using a variety of provider- and project-level characteristics as explanatory variables. We find that providers located in Europe sell offsets at prices that are approximately 30 percent higher than providers located in either North America or Australasia. Contrary to what one might expect, offset prices are generally higher, by roughly 20 percent, when projects are located in developing or least-developed nations. But this result does not hold for forestry-based projects. We find evidence that forestry-based offsets sell at lower prices, and the result is particularly strong when projects are located in developing or least-developed nations. Offsets that are certified under the Clean Development Mechanism or the Gold Standard, and therefore qualify for emission reductions under the Kyoto Protocol, sell at a premium of more than 30 percent; however, third-party certification from the Voluntary Carbon Standard, one of the largest certifiers, is associated with a price discount. Variables that have no effect on offset prices are the number of projects that a provider manages and a provider’s status as for-profit or not-for-profit.

    The private system cannot work because of the UN for example outlawing iron seeding. Trees may cheap but it may be unfeasible to buy enough land to cope with a surge in demand for VERs.

  54. Pedro

    JC, you were still wrong. The same thing was done with the GST. I can’t recall the fines then, but I think they were pretty swinging. A $1.5mil fine wouldn’t be ridiculous if, say, Coles was the culprit. The fines are imposed by courts anyway so the headline amount is usually irrelevant.

    If they were trying to chill business criticism then I guess it didn’t work well.

  55. SfB is warmed up today! I guess he is worried about being an old man one day. Then heaven forbid; some fool like Manne may even accuse him of being conservative.
    I don’t think he will ever make that category because he skims over the content and makes his replies very much off the cuff in his eagerness to respond.
    Doesn’t anyone listen to you at home Stevie?

  56. Jarrah

    “Markets are very sucky at determining the optimum level of an externality.”

    Not if the price signal gets through, internalising the externality. Property rights are extremely important in performing that function, and there are no property rights to enforce when it comes to the impact of CO2 emissions.

  57. Pedro

    “The private system cannot work because of the UN for example outlawing iron seeding.”
    And the connection is?

    Imagine if anyone put iron seeding forward as a private solution to GHG emissions. Talk about doubling down on your externalities.

  58. JC

    JC, you were still wrong. The same thing was done with the GST.

    So what? How does that precedent of illiberalism somehow make this right?

  59. JC

    Imagine if anyone put iron seeding forward as a private solution to GHG emissions. Talk about doubling down on your externalities.

    Lol they outlawed it I think. The science wasn’t settled on that one I guess.

  60. brc

    Obviously, the level where the benefits of emitting outweigh the costs.

    So what’s that level? 350 like Mad McKibben froths at the mouth over? 400 ppm – we’re nearly though, no ill effects at all so far. 500? 600?

    What if, at 500 ppm, the world warms by a further 0.5 deg celsius and the Canadians and Russians think that’s just great, but should get to 600?

    There is no optimal level, because – if the IPCC is correct – each level implies different climates for different parts of the world. Some parts would prefer a milder climate.

    Again, I ask : what’s the optimal level for the AUD? That is also determined by market price. Optimal for whom?

    This vacuous BS of pricing markets is a very tiresome argument. It replaces the concept of markets where people can choose to participate or not, and replaces it with a state-enforced system that oscillates between pre-approved points based on supply and demand completely created by government bureaucrats. It is a potemkin village of a market, a dog and pony show to try and whitewash over the fact it’s yet another doomed attempt at central planning.

  61. brc

    I’m tired of bashing jarrah.

    Yes, me too. Someone else have a turn.

  62. .

    1. It needs a 1.5 million dollar fine? Is this the normal fine for fraud ?

    Well,

    If anything happens out of the Wilson affair, she’ll get a long stretch (seven years), if it could be dealt with summarily (and I don’t think it can), she’d be fined 24k AUD and given two years.

    We ought to have equal laws, Joolya.

  63. Jarrah

    “the GST. I can’t recall the fines then, but I think they were pretty swinging. A $1.5mil fine wouldn’t be ridiculous if, say, Coles was the culprit. The fines are imposed by courts anyway so the headline amount is usually irrelevant.”

    The fines for “price exploitation” for the GST went all the way to $10 million! That’s for a corporation, for individuals it was $500,000.

  64. Jarrah

    “So what’s that level? 350 like Mad McKibben froths at the mouth over? 400 ppm – we’re nearly though, no ill effects at all so far. 500? 600?”

    Exactly – we can’t know because the negative effects can’t be priced into decisions about emissions.

    “There is no optimal level, because – if the IPCC is correct – each level implies different climates for different parts of the world. Some parts would prefer a milder climate.”

    That doesn’t matter. If the benefits to some areas of the world are enough to compensate for the costs to others, and still show a profit, then the emissions shouldn’t be reduced. It’s the “factory on the river” problem, just scaled up.

    “This vacuous BS of pricing markets is a very tiresome argument.”

    It’s straightforward economics.

  65. .

    Imagine if anyone put iron seeding forward as a private solution to GHG emissions. Talk about doubling down on your externalities.

    I gets rid of another externality – eutrophication of food chains.

    Fisheries may need it one day.

    Some science settling by some Salians from Rupert:

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/seeding-oceans-with-iron-to-combat-climate-change-can-work/story-fncynkc6-1226429648818

    A sad end – of course the funds dried up when their home Government signed up to the UN agreement.

    http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080215/full/news.2008.604.html

  66. .

    The fines for “price exploitation” for the GST went all the way to $10 million! That’s for a corporation, for individuals it was $500,000.

    Do you support this or the carbon tax fines?

    Then desist, Jarrah.

  67. .

    If the benefits to some areas of the world are enough to compensate for the costs to others, and still show a profit, then the emissions shouldn’t be reduced. It’s the “factory on the river” problem, just scaled up.

    No, it is not.

  68. Pedro

    No, the price signal will determine (or at least influence) the amount of the externality, but not the optimum level.

    You can’t commoditise fresh air. You can commoditise emissions permits but the optimum level of those depends on the cost of the externality as well as the cost of the permits. The market only determines one half of that comparison.

  69. Rabz

    I will be very happy when the current wave of paranoia and inability to think straight that has infected large sections of the Right is over.

    Not as happy as we’ll all be when you finally fuck off and cease infesting this blog, you utterly loathed, staggeringly stupid, irredeemable piece of human garbage.

  70. brc

    It’s straightforward economics.

    Creating a synthetic market, continually manipulating the supply and demand and forcing people to participate or throwing them in jail might be economics, but of the kind Marx liked.

    That doesn’t matter. If the benefits to some areas of the world are enough to compensate for the costs to others, and still show a profit, then the emissions shouldn’t be reduced. It’s the “factory on the river” problem, just scaled up.

    Great theory. Pity about the 2 century time lag.

  71. Libertarians: so useless they think people and corporations should be free to lie about price gouging.

  72. .

    Libertarians: so useless they think people and corporations should be free to lie about price gouging.

    No one ever said that, moon-child.

    This stuff is proprietary information. You cannot be proven to lie about it unless you make your cost structure public and then they call your bullshit.

    This is bad policy. Deceptive and misleading conduct, and fraud were already crimes, you clod.

  73. Jarrah

    “Do you support this or the carbon tax fines?

    Then desist, Jarrah.”

    I support neither, and you know it. And are you seriously suggesting I should desist from providing facts?

    “Creating a synthetic market, continually manipulating the supply and demand and forcing people to participate or throwing them in jail might be economics, but of the kind Marx liked.”

    No, the necessity of prices for a market to function.

    “Great theory. Pity about the 2 century time lag.”

    Hence the need for government intervention, just like the human flaw you mentioned earlier of wanting to kill each other.

  74. Pedro

    JC, In neither case was the law needed, fraud was already prohibited, but I expect there is some case to be made that the unscrupulous will take an opportunity to rip people off and the relevant laws are addressing that more at a PR level than anything.

    Irrespective, you can’t describe a prohibition on fraud as illiberal. A misunderstanding of the law is a the problem, not the law.

    Jarrah, you’re having a wrongathon.

    “If the benefits to some areas of the world are enough to compensate for the costs to others, and still show a profit, then the emissions shouldn’t be reduced.”

    So if I’m poor, you’re rich and I rob you, then obviously that’s ok because my marginal utility for each of those dollars is so much higher than for fat-cat you? Sheesh.

  75. .

    I support neither, and you know it. And are you seriously suggesting I should desist from providing facts?

    It’s a very funny way of showing that you oppose either. You simply pleaded what we had before wasn’t as bad as what we have now. I know it’s painful to write unexpurgatedly but brevity has its limits.

  76. Samuel J

    Manne is one of those ageing men who never get over their midlife crisis. He probably would go out and buy a Porsche, has new tattoos, new metal implants (maybe also the hip replacement type, but also various studs), etc. Manne is trying to pretend he is ‘with it’, ‘trendy’ etc.

    But Manne has not achieved what most ageing conservative men manage: WISDOM.

  77. Samuel J: amongst other intensely silly contributions to this blog, you have speculated that climate change policies caused the GFC. You were probably the first person in the world to imagine such a connection; and remain unique in that regard.

    Please, don’t talk about perceived lack of wisdom. It’s embarrassing.

  78. .

    Samuel J: amongst other intensely silly contributions to this blog, you have speculated that climate change policies caused the GFC.

    They did, in a very marginal sense. They created malinvestments.

  79. Rabz

    Manne is trying to pretend he is ‘with it’, ‘trendy’ etc.

    There is none so sad as as a seventy plus year old male pretending to be “hip to da yoof”…

  80. Samuel J

    Steve – I said that climate change policies were a factor behind the GFC because of the incentives provided to financial institutions (and others) to misinvest and not assess risk properly. You might not like that, but it is probably correct.

  81. Samuel J

    A whole new series of financial instruments created for climate change policies. And Steve thinks my view is unique. If he is right – that my view of the connection between climate change policies and the GFC – is unique and I am the only person in the world holding that view, that’s fine. It doesn’t mean the view is wrong though.

  82. brc

    Hence the need for government intervention, just like the human flaw you mentioned earlier of wanting to kill each other.

    But various governments and leading bedwetters have signed documents to make waging war illegal. Take a look back through history – it is pockmarked with IPCC-like summits where everyone agreed not to kill each other.

    Then they go back to killing each other. And the worst cases of killing is where a government kills it’s own citizens because they don’t agree with the government, and death is the fastest way to bring about agreement.

    I would say having a government thinking it knows best is a worse risk than anything else. I’ve got a much better than even chance of dealing with whatever the climate does in the future. I’ve got a worse than even chance of dying if my government decides it wants to kill me.

    I don’t even understand why anyone is arguing that governments are good at central planning outcomes, I really don’t.

    If it takes a century or two to see if you were right, it’s not do-able, and nor should it be tried. Especially when the forecasting errors over the short term are so huge. The governments shouldn’t be trying to plan what happens in 2100. End of story.

  83. Bruce

    A problem for Steve and Jarrah is whenever you actually try to introduce a cap and trade style program it fails. It fails because the good being marketed is invisible and is difficult to accurately measure.

    So what happens in all such examples is people cheat. REDD has probably more mythical carbon sinks than real ones. Countries keep on issuing carbon credits because they cost nothing and you can sell them for money. Who needs taxes when you can sell certificates as fast as you can print them?

    So CCX died. You could’ve bought a tonne of CO2 for 5c in its last days. The UN system is down below 3 euros. SocGen thinks both UN and EU carbon credits could well be worthless by 2020.

    So goes any such ‘market’ for an invisible good which can be invented by fiat. Gaseous inflation. Especially when the issuing vendor is a government strapped for cash. The wonderful irony is that Progressive governments who pretend to believe in the imminent heat death of the Earth at vile human hands are the ones most likely to cheat on their own programmes.

    Fortunately Nigeria has a near infinite supply of carbon credtis that they are prepared to sell us for a very affordable price.

  84. blogstrop

    intensely silly contributions to this blog

    That’s SfB’s specialty!

  85. brc

    @bruce that’s what I’ve been trying to say.

    If you invent a market through political will, only political will can keep it alive.

    In a democracy, you might be able to sustain it for a couple of years. But after a while, people will ask : there are no benefits from this thing, and it sure costs a lot. Sooner or later a politician pops up and says ‘lets scrap it’, and gets voted in.

    Exhibit A : Australia. Through sheer dumb luck and lying, the Greens got their carbon tax. But it will never, ever last.

    And that’s before all the rampant cheating makes the market useless. At the slightest whiff of fraud, real markets crater.

    So it makes a fine concept for an economic dissertation, but has no applicability in the real world.

  86. Bruce

    So it makes a fine concept for an economic dissertation

    brc – Nice lead in for my question to Steve Kates.

    Steve – Say’s Law deals with products. But what are products? Wheat and iron ore, certainly. But what of CO2 emissions certificates? Tulips? Snake oil? Are these products under Say’s?

    If fake products do not fall under Say’s, does that mean that a ‘market’ for a fake product is not a real market? Also: in economic theory must a fake market fail?

  87. Julian McLaren

    “men, it has been said, go mad in crowds, and come to their senses one by one”

  88. Julian McLaren

    “men, it has been said, go mad in crowds, and come to their senses one by one”

  89. cohenite

    Manne’s article is a bit of class warfare; he talks of “ordinary people” vs elites, which is exactly the justification used by Finkelstein. For Fink and the Man “ordinary people” are lessor and not entitled to the same rights as the elite.

  90. Squawkbox

    Robert Manne’s article would be marginally less ridiculous if the most fanatical believers in the AGW cult weren’t all aging white males themselves -Gore, Flannelly, Hamilton, Suzuki, Hansen etc. Not to mention the most enthusiastic pro-AGW commenter on this blog.

  91. brc

    @bruce : plenty of examples of non-tangible products that still form orderly markets.

    The key is not whether you can touch the product or not, they key is whether you would normally buy the product or have to be coerced.

    Says’ law here applies to the seen : nominally a decrease in the rate of growth of co2 emissions (if it works). But what is unseen? A lower standard of living for all, diversion of resources into handpicked technologies, etc. To take Says law to it’s obvious extreme – if a little bit of carbon trading makes things better, why not send the price sky high and really get things ripping along?

    The irony is that if a truly revolutionary energy source were created, it would make the co2 credit markets collapse anyway.

  92. Jarrah

    “So if I’m poor, you’re rich and I rob you, then obviously that’s ok because my marginal utility for each of those dollars is so much higher than for fat-cat you? Sheesh.”

    No, you’re (deliberately?) misunderstanding me. I never mentioned marginal utility, it’s completely irrelevant, and your analogy is totally off base.

  93. Jarrah

    “A problem for Steve and Jarrah is whenever you actually try to introduce a cap and trade style program it fails.”

    Except I don’t think we should have a cap and trade system. So it can’t be a problem for me, any more than it can be for you.

  94. Bruce

    brc – Not sure I agree with you on this one. A tulip may be overpriced (unless you’re a Dutchman) but at least the grower or some middleman has collected the price. The customer can at least admire the flower whilst bemoaning why their bank account is now empty.

    A CO2 emissions certificate though is sold by a government. It may therefore be a tax, not a product. Can you have a market in taxes? The Romans sold the right to collect taxes but as far as I know no one has tried to turn taxes into a market, free or otherwise. Seems futile.

    Likewise if you as a government force the tax sky high, it would certainly achieve the aim of lowering CO2 emissions. But then government revenue from taxes would plummet and because no more CO2 is being produced there would be no more revenue from it. A sort of diabolic Laffer curve.

  95. JC

    JC, In neither case was the law needed, fraud was already prohibited,

    You’re putting the horse before the cart Pedro. There is no restriction, at least not yet in raising prices of nearly all goods and services you offer. There is also nothing fraudulent in telling say a customer if asked that the prices of oranges rise because there is a drought in Uganda.

    So calling it fraud now after the Liars Party has called it fraud to rise prices and ascribe the reason to the oxide tax is as I said sticking the cart ahead of the horse.

  96. Shaka-Zulu

    The debate really has to be about epistemology. There would be no chance of people foisting crap on the public, like this so-called “Climate Science” if the public understood what good epistemology was all about.

    Most people have shied away from the first part of the case that the global warming fraud has made. They say things like “A doubling of the CO2 level will, according to standard physics, increase average equilibrium temperatures by 1 degree”

    Well that is a bogus claim for starters. But the physicists have been subjected to so much hero worship that this claim is meant to stop the debate right there.

    Never mind that as a watery planet, that 1 degree would be always subject to negative feedback, evaporation having a refrigerating effect. Put that aside.

    The initial claim is a lie for starters. It is based on a linear series of massive leaps of faith.

  97. Shaka-Zulu

    Sound economics from Bruce above. The carbon tax is like tariffs. When it succeeds it fails. If you place tariffs on a good at first you get the goods and the tax revenue both. Later you wind up getting bugger all tax revenue, and the tariff stands as a theoretical matter only. So you wind up with no tax revenue, and only the malinvestment to show for it.

    Same with the carbon tax. At first you may wind up with the tax revenue to compensate for the tax free threshold that was itself a compensation to the public. But supposing the carbon tax succeeds? What do you gain? You don’t have the revenue, only the pain.

  98. Bruce

    Jarrah – Sorry I misunderstood, although you did seem to be saying that CO2 markets work even if you don’t yourself think we should have one.

    I don’t think they will work at all. Or that any CO2 control can be either ethical or justifiable, since empirically measured 2XCO2 is about 0.6 C.

  99. Sinclair Davidson

    Graeme – I thought it might be you and it was.

  100. Jarrah

    “you did seem to be saying that CO2 markets work even if you don’t yourself think we should have one.”

    I was saying that a natural market can’t arise, not that we should have a fake one. I’m also saying that because emissions do impose a cost (let’s assume for the sake of argument), this should be internalised so as to approximate the optimal level of emissions (although I do agree that hitting it exactly is impossible, if we could even know what it was) by having a CO2 tax (ideally offset by tax reductions elsewhere), the proceeds of which should not spent on ‘compensation’, but on mitigation and adaptation, maybe battery R&D. And all green subsidies should be abolished, and we should build nuclear power plants, and a raft of deregulation and privatisation measures would need to complement the tax (just in case you thought I was pushing a Labor line).

  101. John A

    an almost perfect parallel to the global warming debate in that the entire “scientific” community of computer scientists insisted we had a real problem that had to be fixed if we were to forestall massive economic dislocation

    No, along with brc, I call this bulldust. The scam was certainly in parallel, but there was a real problem in the computing industry which was solved or worked around, in time.

    The hysteria was whipped along by uninformed people outside the computing field, either claiming “the end is nigh” or digging for the gold in them thar hills.

    Some friends of mine were panicked into selling up out of the cities and moving to remote rural properties to become self-sufficient. Ten years later they are gradually moving back.

    I watched certain key industries, quietly made some minor preparations which had longer-term benefits regardless of what happened, and stayed put in suburban Melbourne.

    But please cease and desist from declaring the whole of Y2K to be a falsity, or a scam. That’s a 21st century urban myth.

  102. So if the Greens are not jailed for slashing evil planet raping GM crops, are we allowed to sabotage the bird chompers on sticks? (JC 1335)
    Inquiring minds and idle hands would like to know…

    #Rule 7 from Rules for Radicals “do it to them, but twice as hard.”

  103. Eyrie

    So let’s see, the externalities of burning carbon for energy. Plants like the extra CO2 and grow better.
    Anything else is sheer garbage and unfounded speculation.

    So why do we want to tax/prevent the above?

  104. Pedro

    Jarrah:

    “No, you’re (deliberately?) misunderstanding me. I never mentioned marginal utility, it’s completely irrelevant, and your analogy is totally off base.”

    Umm, yes you did, but maybe you don’t understand what you are saying:

    “If the benefits to some areas of the world are enough to compensate for the costs to others, and still show a profit, then the emissions shouldn’t be reduced.”

    What is that calculation if it is not marginal utility?

  105. Pedro

    “There is also nothing fraudulent in telling say a customer if asked that the prices of oranges rise because there is a drought in Uganda.”

    Actually, that’s not true. If you telling the oranges are up being your a greedy bugger then fine. But if you lie about supply chain costs then you done.

  106. Pedro

    Oops “tell me the oranges are up because you’re a greedy bugger”

  107. Michael

    I agree that Y2K is a very apt analogy although I must protest that there were many who knew it was a crock (OK, hyped and oversold) before the event.

    I count more engineers than scientists among my colleagues, but do remember that we had an office competition for sighting the most preposterous “Y2K-OK” sticker attached to a domestic appliance. This become an increasingly wide field after the Department of Fair Trading got in on the act and as NYE 2000 drew near.

    I recall someone claimed first place for a toaster. No one could imagine how to build a date aware toaster, bit I’m sure there were well paid consultants involved.

    Y2K was always going to have a hard use-by-date. Sadly CAGW doesn’t. How I long for those simpler, heady days for scepticism.

    A life goal now is to live long enough to see the first TIME articles appear trumpeting “How They Got it Wrong”.

  108. Chris

    I learned in school, many years ago, the bio-scientific functions and properties of CO2. Those properties and functions have not changed. What HAS changed is the fact the some men (and a few women) will do and/or say anything for a buck.
    So it is with AGW/CC. It is a hoax of monumental proportions from which a handful of people are profiting at the expense of billions of others. Tens of billions of dollars, world-wide, have been poured into this scam to help to facilitate Agenda 21.
    Look that up and you’ll see it’s not a conspiracy theory; it’s a conspiracy FACT.

  109. Chris

    I learned in school, many years ago, the bio-scientific functions and properties of CO2. Those properties and functions have not changed. What HAS changed is the fact the some men (and a few women) will do and/or say anything for a buck.
    So it is with AGW/CC. It is a hoax of monumental proportions from which a handful of people are profiting at the expense of billions of others. Tens of billions of dollars, world-wide, have been poured into this scam to help to facilitate Agenda 21.
    Look that up and you’ll see it’s not a conspiracy theory; it’s a conspiracy FACT.

  110. Nato

    I loved this line from your article

    the word of a “scientist” is not gospel

    A girlfriend snuck me into the first biology lecture of the semester way back when and the head of science at Swinburne delivered a line that has stuck with me

    We will not be giving you facts. We will be giving you the latest theories that best explain the observed evidence.

    Whenever someone throws the Science line at me, I consider the response if I were to challenge them to “reproduce the experiment”.

    Otherwise, your physics may as well be economics. XD

  111. twr

    The problem with Y2K was that there *was* a problem, it was just a 95% smaller problem than it became once the people who knew nothing got involved. Somehow, in amongst all the ridiculous form filling and letter writing, most of the 5% of real issues got fixed. If nothing had been done, then people would have seen a fair few errors and problems, but the hype got away with it. This makes it a poor analogy for AGW.

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