My latest musings…

The CIS sends out a weekly “ideas @ the centre” e-mail to their regular victims. Unfortunately, it’s not online, so I’m posting my contribution to it here for the viewing pleasure of the non-CIS world…

Be afraid of the neo-world

The world is dangerous. If we aren’t being attacked by leaking fishing boats or sneezing pigs, then we need to keep worried about radical capitalism and global warming.

The great thing about a good fear campaign is that it doesn’t need to be true. Just scary. It didn’t matter that the risk of dying from terrorism for Australians was lower than the risk of dying from pesticide poisoning or lightning strikes. Those foreign-looking people were scary, and so we fended them off by throwing a few billion dollars and a few civil liberties at them.

But fear of terrorists is old school. The neo-fear is neo-liberalism.

And of course climate change. Though we have a neo-word for that too now, with the environment group ecoAmerica suggesting that we refer to “our deteriorating atmosphere”.

If the West is ever attacked by a carbon-emitting neo-liberal terrorist then we’ll probably be frozen in catatonic fear.

The government is promising to save us from these evils through multi-billion dollar government schemes. The solution to neo-liberalism is apparently to pump billions of dollars into the hands of business and consumers. And the solution to “our deteriorating atmosphere” is to take billions of dollars out of the hands of business and consumers.

The funny thing about the neo-liberal revolution is that it never happened. Thirty years ago the Commonwealth government spent about 24% of GDP. Same twenty years ago. Same ten years ago. And the original estimate for this year was that spending would again be 24% of GDP. If that’s a revolution, I’d hate to see how little gets done through incremental reform.

But apparently, this 0% change is too “neo-liberal”, and so the current government has decided to save us by increasing government spending to 28% of GDP. Maybe more after next week’s budget. Perhaps this is “neo-socialism”?

At least “our deteriorating atmosphere” had the decency to actually change temperature. While temperatures haven’t changed over the past seven years, the trend over the last 30 years has been moderate warming. The fear is that continued warming might lead to sea-level rises of about 30cm over 100 years, and that mankind (who can send a man to the moon, discover nuclear power and invent Viagra) will apparently be overcome by this challenge and civilisation will crumble.

The government’s solution is bigger government. Perhaps a cheaper approach would be to take a few steps back from the beach.

Also, over at Business Spectator I’ve got some more thoughts on the global recession and the government response, and why the current policies are likely to make things worse.

6 thoughts on “My latest musings…

  1. I can see how it’s easy for someone who doesn’t read scientific journals or has no understanding of science to dismiss global warming, there is a lot of doomsday hysteria coming from the likes of Al Gore / tv news etc
    but you have to realise its a consensus in the scientific community that global warming is a real problem that needs a solution as soon as possible…
    i don’t think the government spending our money is going to help, it will probably do more harm than good, but to suggest that global warming is a non-issue is… retarded. IMO. ^_^

  2. The scientists know about science. They don’t necessarily know anything about public policy, rational risk-management or social/economic development.

  3. Funny about that consensus.

    I could have sworn i’ve read articles from about 100 scientists who say Al Gore is a lunatic.

    Perhaps I imagined it.

  4. @Tony, the scientists who reject the idea of warming are almost always either misquoted/taken out of context or are scientists in a totally different field that have no experience in global warming. watch these videos for an alternative point of view than the one you see in the media, a view held by real scientists, the ones i trust. not fear mongers like Al Gore.

    see here –

    and here –

  5. But John’s point about fear is a good point. You should write a book about it and call it “State of Fear”. Oops, Michael Crichton has already done just that! He points out that it’s in politicians interests to have us fear something, so we’ll accept their remedy for that fear- we might even give them an overwhelming mandate in votes at election-time! Fear also sells papers. Bland happiness wouldn’t have the same affect.

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