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Unforced Variations: August 2017

Filed under: — group @ 2 August 2017

This month’s open thread.

592 Responses to “Unforced Variations: August 2017”

  1. 301

    The problem is not so much greed, although that is certainly a problem, but the structure of our business laws. Corporations–joint-stock companies, companies with legally limited liability–are profit-maximizing machines. They are not immoral. They are amoral. They simply don’t consider anything else but higher profits.

    This can be good or it can be bad. It’s bad when they make the highest profit from manufacturing concentration camp Zyklon B or instruments of torture. It’s good when they make the highest profit from running humane nursing homes or orphanages.

    The role of government in all this is to “incentivize” corporations so they do what we–society–want them to do. Punish bad behavior (with taxes) and reward good behavior (with subsidies). The GOP heresy, if I may call it that, is that taking away all restrictions on corporations will bring about paradise. It will not. In the absence of proper regulation, corporations will simply maximize profit, and if they can do so by murdering homeless people or destroying small towns in Afghanistan, that’s what they’ll do. As with so much else, American conservatives don’t seem to live in the real world with the rest of us.

  2. 302
    Nemesis says:

    @Mike Roberts, #291

    ” Economic studies show that this would spur the economy, increase gross national product, and create millions of jobs.”

    Yes, I know Hansen’s viewpoint, in general, it’s the same like Sarah Palin’s view, quote:

    ” I am a conservative Republican, a firm believer in free market capitalism. A free market system allows all parties to compete, which ensures the best and most competitive project emerges, and ensures a fair, democratic process.”

    America is one of the richest countries in the world. Thing is, ALL the money is in private hand, while the US got more than 20 TRILLION dollars of debt. It’s the same in most other countries around the world. The global debt is more than 200 TRILLION, so HEY, let’s create more money out of thin air, while creating more gross national product, create more jobs (I mean, corporations want to create JOBS all the time, not profit^^), more consumerism, more private money and more national debt. I think, everything will be extremely fine very soon then.

    ” We need holistic thinking, not just a blinkered “we must stop warming at any cost”. Yes, it’s hugely important but not at any cost; we have to do something about all of the predicaments we face.”

    Exactly. But it will not happen. Economy is like war, exactly like war. And the big players got no problem with ecodestruction and inequality every single day. I mean, it’s war and in war, the ecosystem get’s damaged and people die, so what.

    We’ll just have to lay back and wait, until that system crashes. We WILL see it crash, because it’s corrupted to it’s bones and never ever sustainable.

  3. 303
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelji, #293

    ” Greed is not the fuel of capitalism. The fuel is just the desire for a better life or to make a profit.”

    Fine. And for a “better” life, we need more gross national product, we need more money, we need more cars, more planes, more luxury, more armament, more products in the supermarkets, more consumerism, more, more, more. And that’s not greed, just reason. Wonderful. Let’s see, how that “better” life will play out in the next years and decades 3:-)

    ” And even the greed of wall street can be of benefit…”

    Wonderful. So we don’t have to worry about anything, because capitalism will solve all problems soon. All the discussions about “saving the planet” and shit is just a waste of time anyway, just let’s trust in capitalism, the free market. I mean, the planet does not need to be saved anyway, as the planet, Nature is just a cooking pot, eating and being eaten anyway, you can’t change that, so let’s just embrace reality. And don’t forget, to tell your children and grandchildren:

    Never ever lose trust in capitalism and the free market, never ever lose trust in money.

    So, now I am completely enlightened, freed and satisfied by capitalism, I will lay back now and relax and leave the discussion and enjoy life instead of discussing problems, that don’t even exist.

  4. 304
    Mal Adapted says:

    Thomas:

    Nope. Why do you ask?

    Because I’m playing you.

    Do you ever get that feeling of paranoia yourself Mal?

    Paranoia isn’t in my diagnosis, but due perhaps to sub-clinical depressive realism I do occasionally notice I’m being played. Sometimes I get it, and we all have a good virtual laugh. Sometimes (?) you either don’t notice or don’t get it, and the rest of us have a good virtual laugh at your expense.

    [Or t]hat everything other people might say here is always all about you?

    Nah. That feeling is actually more like clinical paranoia. I’m OK with being mediocre ;^). That’s a joke, Thomas. I’ve had to update my priors about you.

    But as always, this is about you. You might benefit from some sub-clinical depressive realism, though I don’t wish clinical depression on anyone. It’s redundantly clear neither I nor anyone else can tell you anything. Just in case you’re still wondering, that’s why I seldom acknowledge your virtual existence. ‘Twitting’ (or ‘playing’) you is fun once in a while, but I’m bored with it now, so I’ll ‘leave’ you (you do too know what I mean) with Gavin’s inline reply to you not quite six months ago. I linked it for you, on account of my updated priors.

  5. 305
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Nemesis,
    So, basically you seem to be saying that everything would be fine if humans were simply different from what they are…or that we all need to realize that we are just one big family. Let me know how that works out. (kum-bay-frickin-yah).

    The systems that tend to work are those that accept humans as they are–that harness our characteristics–good and bad–toward a desired end. Examples

    Capitalism/markets work because they harness human avarice

    Science works because it harnesses human curiosity.

    The military works because harnesses our tendency as social mammals to unite in the face of a threat from an OTHER.

    Here’s the problem. No one has come up with a system that is stable that has zero growth. Zero growth and low-growth societies tend to be dysfunctional, stratified (rich and poor) and have a lot of persistent inequality. Even if you start out with complete equality, it won’t last, and it will get worse with succeeding generations.

    I’m not just being contrary. I’m not just defending the status quo. I’m not even saying that we don’t need to move to a more stable economic model that doesn’t rely on growth as much. I’m saying that nobody has a plan for this, nor even an inkling of how to come up with a plan.

  6. 306
    Mal Adapted says:

    Thomas:

    Modern Cognitive Science says you are wrong Mal Adapated…
    Human Reason is 98% Subconscious Metaphor in Frames & Cultural Narratives

    That’s Science Mal!!! I’m not making it up.

    [For those unable to infer it from context, single-quote characters around a word or phrase indicate ironic and/or figurative use. I won’t always ‘spell it out’ for you which ;^) – MA]

    Thomas’s claim for the role of metaphor in human ‘reason’ isn’t wrong, and he doesn’t need to make evidence up; but if anyone’s still paying attention, they should be able to explain why his cited evidence doesn’t make his case that I’m wrong. If nobody else does by noon tomorrow, I will, with ‘savage’ glee!

    [Remark to Thomas: do you ‘get it’, i.e. understand how this exchange works, yet? I’ll even give you a broad hint: ‘it takes two to tango’, and I like the Tango 8^D – MA]

    From an ‘informative prior’, though, I predict nobody else is paying attention. Why would they?

  7. 307

    #247, Mal–

    h/t…

    Thanks. It occurs to me that I could also have gone with “Once less unto the breach, dear friends.”

  8. 308
    Thomas says:

    “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
    Eleanor Roosevelt
    https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/eleanorroo385439.html

  9. 309
    Thomas says:

    When Academics & Scientists armed with Scientific Facts butt heads with Mythological & Ideological & Religious Beliefs … sparks always fly.

    The fraudulent irrational anti-human Ideology of Neoliberal Fascist Elites equates with, funds and facilitates Climate Science Denial at every level, imho. First some 2016 analysis refs about these issues:

    2016-04-15 “So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power. Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains [ ie BELIEVES with a Religious Ayn Randian Zealotry absent all FACTS to the contrary ] that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning [and Rational Evidence Based Regulations and Laws].”
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

    2016-11-16 Trump: The New Face of Neoliberal Fascism“Neoliberalism has always been racist and fascist, but also classist, misogynist, hetero-patriarchal, capitalist, and imperialist.”
    https://elenemigocomun.net/2016/11/trump-neoliberal-fascism/

    2016-11-17 Trump struck at the pulsating nerve center of the failure of the last four decades of a bipartisan neoliberal consensus. This election is a win for the clear 10% or so of Americans who are out-and-out white supremacists and Nazis; it is a win for “traditional” Republicans — who voted for Trump in more-or-less the same force they voted for Mitt Romney. More than either of those, however, it is a loss for the Democratic Party — its leadership, its think tanks, its media allies, its dead professional-class ideology, and yes, its candidate.
    “As my Brooklyn Institute colleague Raphaele Chappe and I recently argued, there is tremendous overlap economically and institutionally between neoliberalism and fascism. And we, and others, have argued how imperative it is to recognize that these are not truly diametric oppositions.
    https://qz.com/838537/what-a-proper-response-to-trumps-fascism-demands-a-true-ideological-left/

    2017-08-15 Fascism is on the rise in the west, and it is emboldened, legitimised and fuelled by “mainstream” politicians and newspapers. […] Yes, racists and fascists are enabled and empowered by elites on both sides of the Atlantic; and yes, not just by their hatred, but by an economic order that generates needless misery and insecurity, which the bigoted can exploit. They are the guilty men – the hatred, the chaos and the violence is on them. And as the racists and the fascists continue to march and unleash violent chaos, their enablers [incl. VOTERS?] must be held accountable.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/15/fanned-flames-fascism-politicians-newspapers-charlottesville

    Professor Philip Mirowski is an expert on Economic/Political History etc. He is a formidable critic of the [FAUX] scientific status of neoclassical economics.

    Ref’ed here months ago — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7ewn29w-9I&feature=youtu.be&t=33m40s — the Neoliberal Thought Collective (NTC) with their Full Spectrum Response against Climate Science which includes Liberatarian (Faux Freedom), the RW Faux news Media, & Fascist NeoNazi Ideologues in Congress and Political Think Tanks.

    Core belief of NTC “Supremacy” “Most people will be stupid. It’s just the way it is!” https://youtu.be/I7ewn29w-9I?t=40m21s

    And so it is, apparently. Personally I prefer not to be stupid if at all possible.

    People will continue to place all their “faith and hope” in the IPCC Reports, the Paris Agreement and a Price on Carbon while ignoring the elephant in the room. But if those people have no idea of who/what the real enemy is, deny they even exist then how are they going to WIN any kind of scientific argument, let alone win a Public debate about the Facts? They will not because it’s impossible.

    Where is the Logic? Reason? History? The Academic Research by Experts in their Field? Cognitive Science Breakthroughs? Psychological Science Breakthroughs? Climate Science Breakthroughs? Factual Reality? “Heil Trump!” …. ?

    Many like Kurt Andersen are speaking about the factual reality in his cover story “How America Lost Its Mind” – The Cultural Factors Driving America’s Departure From Reality – argues that “being American means we can believe anything we want.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15ovRt5IW6Q

    If nothing else, please read 2016 artcile in full published just after Trump’s election but before Trump declared the USA would exit the Paris Treaty: “FIGHTING FASCISM WITH FIRE What a proper response to Trump’s fascism demands” QUOTING:

    Some complacent Democrats and pundits seem to be embracing a faux stoicism—a smug combination of “it can’t happen here” and “this too shall pass.” They ignore the extraordinary powers that president Trump will have on day one of his term. The powers of the presidency have expanded dramatically under president Bush and president Obama.

    Trump was also supported by nearly the entirety of the traditional Republican coalition and fueled, unquestionably, by a far-right united front of the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and “alt-right.” Neither is why he is president-elect today. The enthusiasm of especially that last group collided with the utter collapse of liberalism. In almost every category of the vaunted “future-proof” Obama coalition, Clinton lost support.

    It is your class politics; it is your race politics. And those politics —barely sputtering through the Obama years— have finally crashed.

    Are you thinking: This is not the America I know? We have always been getting better? The Obama years were all grace and beauty? If you are someone who—in earnest—thought about Clinton’s experience in government as anything other than part of all that the immiseration above – Then it is you who are in a bubble!!!

    https://qz.com/838537/what-a-proper-response-to-trumps-fascism-demands-a-true-ideological-left/

    — nothing happening in 2017 should be a surprise to the ‘educated intelligent scientific and rational classes’ All the warnings about entrenched inaction of AGW/CC had been sounded for years already. Nay, for decades!

    What will ‘they’ do now is the critical question?

  10. 310
    Thomas says:

    Australian cognitive scientist and Psychology Communication Major, Dr. John Cook of Sceptical Science fame says:
    “What I’ve learned subsequently over the last ten years of doing climate communication is that people whose beliefs aren’t based on evidence can’t be persuaded by evidence.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/08/16/how-to-explain-climate-science-to-that-person-who-just-wont-lis_a_23076500/

    Funny, I have been saying the same thing for, like, 20 years. And just like Dr. John Cook, no one pays attention to me either. :-)

    Nor do they change their approach in Communicating AGW/CC realities to the Public, the Politicians or Journalists in the Media either.

    However, things always change … eventually.

  11. 311
    Al Bundy says:

    I’m in the last chapters of Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”. It’s an incredible indictment of capitalism. It talks of worthless millionaires. It’s Hero is Howard Rourk, who works for Work’s sake. No capital, no reward, no nothing except the satisfaction of Work.

    Yet Ayn is stupid beyond belief. She has no clue what her own Work says. She thinks that Howard, who works for nothing except Work is Proof that Money is Everything. She even says that capitalists SHOULD grub everything they can, because what does it matter? Well, if the system were set up to prevent grubbing, then Howard Rourk would Work anyway, and all the villains in her book would, to the betterment of society, stay home.

    Capitalism was appropriate when capital was scarce. But now, capital is everywhere. It’s leaking out at the seams. And grunt labor is fast becoming worthless. In a few years, no “regular guy” will be able to “earn” enough to pay his own healthcare, even at a rate of $1 a year salary.

    What’s rare is Brilliance. And your society is wasting Brilliance via the Grubbing of Money. Just how many advances in sustainable systems are delayed by the Grubbing of Geniuses for milliseconds in stock trades, something that not only does nothing of value but destroys the thing capitalists hold sacred: the market? Yet capitalists worship fast trading, because it represents what they adore: the siphoning of wealth from the System.

    How much Brilliance was wasted in the F22 fighter? Imagine all those neurons used to Create as opposed to Fight.

    Note that capitalists NEVER compare capitalism with laborism, but with Totalitarianism. The USSR???? Come on, only someone who had no interest in truth would use that comparison instead of modern Scandinavia. So, Nigelj, become Honest. Drop the Free v enslaved stupidity and actually compare systems. Free v Free. Who’s doing better for their citizens, the USA or northern Europe? Data, dude. (as opposed to tripe)

    Read Ayn Rand. but read her in a way that transcends her own lack of brilliance.

  12. 312
    Al Bundy says:

    Nemisis: We live some decades, if we are lucky, and then we are gone. So why hoard things, why hoard money, why follow the stupid road of greed?

    Al: Why, to destroy that which they hold dear: equality and the Rise of the Capable. You see, capitalists want to ensure that totally stupid and worthless people (their heirs) live like Royalty without contributing anything at all. Capitalism is all about creating leeches via spawning. It’s the parenting instinct overwhelming reason. As my brother said, his SOLE goal in life is to make Life as unfair as possible — in the favor of his spawn. Sick, eh?

    To break this, simply (ahhh, “simply”) break the link between generations. America’s motto should be, “Grub for yourself, but in America, All People are Created Equal, so your spawn don’t get any advantage. They sink or swim on their own.”

  13. 313
    Thomas says:

    The Shamanistic Logic of Climate Science aka Neoliberal Libertarian & RW Nutters, AGW Deniers, Fools, NeoNazi White Supremacist False Equivalency BS all rolled into one classic example of the bleeding obvious) Posted on August 16, 2017 by James A. Bacon | 15 Comments
    http://baconsrebellion.com/shamanistic-logic-climate-science/

    Or why basically ignoring and never engaging the Victors and KIAs on any subject (bar telling them to simply piss off) makes so much rational sense. :-)

  14. 314
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelji, #296

    ” But would your consuming little extend to giving up your computer or smartphone you are typing on, that was the result of capitalism, competition, profit and some level of “greed” that disturbs you so much? I doubt it.”

    Sure. And when I gave up my 10 years old computer, then you’d ask:

    ” But what would your consuming little extend to giving up walking on the streets? I mean, building streets causes very high CO2 emissions and streets were the result of capitalism. And if you gave up walking on the street, would you extend your consuming little to giving up eating food? I mean, producing food causes high levels of CO2 and was the result of capitalism as well and so on ad infinitum.”

    Dear nigelji, your “argument” is ABSURD. It’s exactly the kind of “argument”, that brought us into the mess.

    Today, someone asked me:

    ” But can your little 10, 20 or 30% of CO2 reduction save the climate?”

    ABSURD.

    ” Hoarding can get out of control. But none of this is incompatible with some form of capitalism.”

    I see. Hoard whatever you like to hoard and leave, whatever you want to leave.. You know, I said it several times and I say it again:

    The less I need, the more I am free.

  15. 315
    Nemesis says:

    @Thomas

    You write some really good comments, some really inspiring comments.

  16. 316
    Nemesis says:

    Let’s have a break:

    Monty Python’s The Flying Circus – Argument Clinic

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

  17. 317
    Thomas says:

    306 Mal Adapted, I see that you didn’t get the obvious point, that I have no interest in playing ‘mind’ games with you or anyone else. Try an open mic stage for budding stand up comics? I am not interested in your bs. Savvy? That’s a Knife! :-)

  18. 318
    nigelj says:

    zebra @300

    “…define capitalism flexibly…” “That’s the problem. ”

    I respect your desire for precise definitions, but I think the social sciences are harder to be precise about than laws of physics. I think the normal dictionary definition of capitalism is ok even if its pretty broad. I’m struggling to think of better, but find your attempts pretty interesting. What we should really do is be precise about what we are promoting or saying in terms of policy details (Nemesis take note)

    Just as an aside, I don’t have a problem with capitalism with other ideologies welded on. They are not always mutually exclusive. That should be the real target of discussion.

    “The standard definition of capitalism is private ownership, competitive free markets, individual freedom, etc. Its rather descriptive and simply differentiates from state ownership. Its crude I guess, but there’s a fundamental difference between private and state ownership.”

    “Crude indeed– my point is that now both Right and Left can pick any element of that kind of laundry-list description and blame the negative effects on “capitalism” or “socialism”. A logical fallacy to be sure, but when has that ever stopped either side’s extremes?”

    Yes but no matter how you define capitalism, people will still blame the ills of society on the profit motive, bankers, hoarding capital, etc,etc. Anything associated with capitalism will be criticised and totally shredded! Of course these things are not inherently wrong, but there are sometimes valid criticisms of how they are applied, but the real problem is it all gets confused because people have poor logic.

    “1. You seem to have trouble with this time axis thing. Can you answer the question I posed to BPL about subsistence farmers? BPL BPL,”

    It was a good question, but subsistence farmers that own private property and are free from too much state control, or local government control over what they choose to farm are really capitalists. I think Vietnam operates like this. If property is held more in common, communally, as in some older subsistence farming communities, that is not really capitalism.

    I would also suggest theres ultimately no hard dividing line between capitalism and other systems. Capitalism evolved and didn’t come into being suddenly, instantly with a fully developed text book. Early hunter gatherers were egalitarian and property was often communally owned. The specialisation of labour that goes back to early farming communities 10,000 years ago, gradually lead to more private ownership and control, and took off in a big way with the industrial revolution, because state control and / or ownership of everything became cumbersome. It also obviously involved increased use of private capital as a way of funding private ventures. In other words technological complexity lead more and more to markets and ultimately capitalism. That’s not to say private ownership suits everything.

    “As another example, I read recently about the Germanic tradition of the journeymen, who travel around providing services but can only accept food and lodging for their work. They “own” their tools (means of production). But, they can’t accept money and so accumulate wealth. Are they “capitalists”?

    Tough one. I think it’s a peculiar version of capitalism like a subset. Or maybe its something else different from capitalism or socialism or whatever.

    Accumulation of wealth can be in money or goods obviously, but all societies have some of this. That’s why I think capitalism comes back more to whether the individual or state owns the wealth. ( Of course in sensible countries there’s a mix of both regardless of any “ism” we apply or how we define it. Even america has a public ownership of some things. States usually own natural resources and grant mining licences).

    “2. You say there is a fundamental difference between private and state ownership. Can you give an example of ownership that exists without the existence of a state?”

    Good question, Ayn Rand would love it. But imagine two or three individuals on an island, living apart with little contact and no “government”. Each has some possessions so could be said to own and control them even though there is no state. Of course they might fight a bit, and decide to create a “government” to keep the peace and develop more formal property rights. They might even own some things in common as well! Ha ha.

    I think that the definition of capitalism of state versus private ownership really is taken to mean private ownership is dominant, so its just a general definition. Every functional state will have some state ownership in reality even if its just the army or whatever.

    To me its all beside the point. The real question is what things should the state own what things should the private sector own. You cant decide that by generalising or preaching philosophy. It comes down to more specific detail, evidence and reasons.

  19. 319
    Thomas says:

    311 Al Bundy says: “I’m in the last chapters of Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”.”

    Oh you poor bugger. I feel for you. I read Atlas Shrugged in my last year of High school. It was a challenge then because I was not aware wtf the story.intent was supposed to be about. I have no idea who Ayn Rand was, nor what she stood for, nor how dysfunctional a person she was. I simply read the book. I thought before starting to read it and as the early chapters flew past, that it was a “fiction book” trying to make a broader cultural point.

    By the time I got to the end, it made no sense whatsoever. My conclusion as a 16/17 year old was that it was garbage and not worth reading in the first place. The thing it was was “challenging”.

    Decades later, and after eventually finding out wtf Ayn Rand was and what so many people “thought about her great works” well I simply shook my head. I heard about Paul Ryan’s “best book he has ever read”? Far out!

    No I never read another Ayn Rand book and have never come to regret that in many decades! Each to their own I suppose, “there but for the grace of God go I” as they say.

  20. 320
    Thomas says:

    typo — The LAST thing it was, was “challenging”

  21. 321
    nigelj says:

    BPL @301, I couldn’t agree more. The profit motive is a powerful and great tool, but its like a dangerous weapon as well, that can lead to toxic outcomes sometimes. There have to be limits and rules on how corporations are allowed to operate.

  22. 322
    Thomas says:

    305 Ray Ladbury says: “I’m saying that nobody has a plan for this, nor even an inkling of how to come up with a plan.”

    Where’s your evidence that is true Ray? How long have been looking for one, and where have you been looking? Because an absence of (known) evidence is not evidence of absence Ray.

    Neither is a lack of awareness of X any kind of credible evidence for possessing a profound level of awareness. As per Rumsfeld’s Unknown Unknowns etc.:-)

    The majority of human beings only place their attention on those things that interest them, or demand their attention and they ignore the rest. They usually run out of time to be able to focus on anything else than their core business. eg scientists tend to focus on science, their families and hobbies and that’s about it.

    eg activist White Supremacists and Billionaire businessmen don’t have much time (or interest) for researching climate science. :-)

  23. 323
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @311

    I read Ayn Rands fountainhead years ago and also Atlas Shrugged.

    I don’t agree with her point of view. While individual selfish pursuits are not always a bad thing, she is basically giving a very one sided account of economic life slanted utterly towards the private sector utterly ignoring the failings of corporations. It reflects her history growing up in the distortions of the USSR.

    I’m a fan of the Scandinavian model. But they are basically capitalist societies with some sensible socialism attached on. They pick and choose various ideas at will. They have a consensus of putting interests of children first, and using this to help decide the best economic ideas, and end up with a good mixture of right and left leaning ideas.

  24. 324
    Nemesis says:

    The complete funny story in a nutshell. Communism vs capitalism, islam vs christianity, right vs left, democrats vs republicans, climate believers vs climate deniers ect ect ad infinitum:

    ” As there was nothing else to do while on the train, I turned on the radio and decided to listen to a talk show. On this particular program they had two opposing politicians in, debating the then upcoming election.

    I listened for a while, wishing I could get a decent music station, or had bought some CDs with me. The debate was getting boring, and was essentially becoming a right/left conflict: Give up your social freedom for more economic freedom, or give up your economic freedom for your social ones.

    Damn, that was stupid! I found myself thinking. So basically, I have to give up some sort of freedom, in order to gain another? Looking closely, there wasn’t even that much of a choice. To take benefit of the “economic free market” of the Right means you have to have the money in the first place. And on the left, without economic freedom, social freedom was nothing, as money is a large part of the social structure.

    So was there really a choice? To be sure, there are some differences. Certainly among the personalities involved. But the basic philosophy was the same. Almost all our current politicians come from the “Oxbridge elite”, those lucky few without enough connections or cash to get into those 2 universities. This is pretty much the same for the leadership of both parties, whether right or left wing. And either way, it basically benefits them, as they are richer than their constituents who they supposedly represent.

    However, you can con an honest man, if you do it with two men. Make them look like opposing teams, like a “thief” getting caught at a jewelers and a “copper” taking the stolen goods as evidence. But in reality, they are both working ultimately for their own benefit. That’s the way politicians keep conning the public. We get the same old guard year after year, being moved by their party from safeseat to safeseat. That’s modern politics.

    Keep voting yourself pay rises and make sure there aren”t equal taxes applied to the rich. And people wonder why fringe parties and apathy are on the rise.”

    https://principiadiscordia.com/bip/3.php

  25. 325
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @303

    ” And even the greed of wall street can be of benefit…”

    “Wonderful. So we don’t have to worry about anything, because capitalism will solve all problems soon. All the discussions about “saving the planet” and shit is just a waste of time anyway, just let’s trust in capitalism, the free market. I mean, the planet does not need to be saved anyway, ”

    Now you are quoting me out of context, the same sort of pathetic trick used by climate denialists.

    What I said was”And even the greed of wall street can be of benefit, if governments regulate the sector more firmly to contain the worst excesses”

    Surely you can comprehend this? Perhaps not. Corporations are driven to make profits, nothing wrong with that, and some executives will be greedy by nature. These excesses can be controlled with government rules and so on. Read what BPL has said.

    Sorry, I feel you deliberately twist what I say, deliberately miss the point, just want to score points, and are way out of your depth. It gets boring for me listening to that.

    Anybody can criticise “the system”, that talk comes cheap and means little. You have not provided a workable alternative. “Sharing stuff” is not an alternative that actually means anything, and is not viable in the real world on global scales.It didn’t work to well in the USSR because of human nature.

    Basically sharing as an economic system works in very small communities, but doesn’t work in large modern, more anonymous societies and certainly not globally.

    I personally like the way modern Scandinavia approaches these things by combining capitalism with elements of socialism in pragmatic, sensible ways. But you are so cynical you would probably not be satisfied with that.

  26. 326
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @309

    My understanding is neoliberalism generally includes ideas of competition, free markets, very fluid immigration, extensive privatisation, self regulation, deregulation, flat taxes, minimal labour laws etc. It opposes subsidies. As below:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

    I don’t have a problem with competition or free trade, and some moderate level of immigration, its the rest that can go too far, and doesn’t always make sense, or seem fair minded. The whole thing can become dogmatic like a religion, and panders to the corporate sector. Neoliberalisms track record has had some failures as below.

    http://fortune.com/2016/06/03/imf-neoliberalism-failing/

    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2016/06/ostry.htm

    Basically a light weight version of neoliberalism works, but too much neoliberalism becomes toxic very quickly, almost like the growth of an exponential curve. I’m going by observations in my country, as we pioneered these ideas I’m embarrassed to admit (Roger Douglas in the 1980s). Some elements have worked well, others have not worked as the advocates claimed they would.

    This will not help the dummies that want everything simple, black and white, right or wrong, sadly. It’s complicated, and that’s just how it is.

  27. 327
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @314

    ” But would your consuming little extend to giving up your computer or smartphone you are typing on, that was the result of capitalism, competition, profit and some level of “greed” that disturbs you so much? I doubt it.”

    “Sure. And when I gave up my 10 years old computer, then you’d ask:”

    ” But what would your consuming little extend to giving up walking on the streets? I mean, building streets causes very high CO2 emissions and streets were the result of capitalism. And if you gave up walking on the street, would you extend your consuming little to giving up eating food? I mean, producing food causes high levels of CO2 and was the result of capitalism as well and so on ad infinitum.”

    No, you are putting words in my mouth. You already said we are entitled to the basics, food, clothing, roads and I agreed.

    Computers are not the basics. So I repeat are you prepared to give them up? Where do you draw the line on the basics?

    “Dear nigelji, your “argument” is ABSURD. It’s exactly the kind of “argument”, that brought us into the mess.”

    How is it absurd precisely?

    And lets say we agree computers are a reasonable essential in todays world, and they are, we only have them because of capitalism and competition. No hunter gatherer sharing society or modern version of the same would have ever delivered something like a computer.

    “Today, someone asked me:”
    ” But can your little 10, 20 or 30% of CO2 reduction save the climate?”
    “ABSURD.”

    Different issue entirely. It is absurd in this instance, because we have to start somewhere.

    ” Hoarding can get out of control. But none of this is incompatible with some form of capitalism.”

    “I see. Hoard whatever you like to hoard and leave, whatever you want to leave.. You know, I said it several times and I say it again:”

    Now you are just twisting what I said, again and deliberately missing the point.

    “The less I need, the more I am free.

    I’m not particularly materialistic. I do have a nice car and audio system, and a couple of modern computers, but most of the rest of my stuff is quite old, and I don’t even have a dishwasher or microwave. I could afford very classy, expensive things if I wanted, but I cant see the point of buying new things that are not significantly better, and that are just pure status symbols. I try to maintain a sort of balance, although I find this hard.

    I give to charity. What contribution do you make to charity? Do you live up to your own ideals?

    Time to find the old monty python videos, or maybe Fawlty Towers.

  28. 328

    AB: The USSR???? Come on, only someone who had no interest in truth would use that comparison instead of modern Scandinavia.

    BPL: And only a fool would try to explain something to someone by starting out accusing them of having no interest in truth.

  29. 329

    Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ayn Rand!

  30. 330
    Mal Adapted says:

    Thomas:

    I am not interested in your bs.

    You sure had me played, you sly virtual fella 8^D! How come you keep responding to me?

    Let’s tango, dude! I can keep it up as long as you can, or until I get bored enough. All subject to RC’s moderation, it apparently must be said again. That would achieve my primary objective decisively ;^).

  31. 331
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj

    ” Now you are quoting me out of context, the same sort of pathetic trick used by climate denialists.”

    Maybe you just shouldn’t talk to climate denialists and alike, I don’t do it either, spares a lot of my precious time.

    Have a great day.

  32. 332
    Mal Adapted says:

    Kevin McKinney:

    It occurs to me that I could also have gone with “Once less unto the breach, dear friends.”

    Heh. Droll, but it sacrifices context. Shakespeare was skillful with dramatic verisimilitude 8^).

  33. 333
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj, #327

    ” Computers are not the basics. So I repeat are you prepared to give them up? Where do you draw the line on the basics?”

    I draw the line, where I like to draw it, exactly like you draw the line, where you like to draw it. Soon, Nature will draw the line for both of us, just like Nature draws the line for everyone of us. I think, that’s a beautiful fact, beautiful JUSTICE, beautiful EQUALITY, some common ground for both of us :-) So, just like I said earlier:

    Meanwhile, grab as much or as little material shit as you like.

    ” I give to charity. What contribution do you make to charity? Do you live up to your own ideals?”

    Nice, do good and talk about it. Hahahaha, man, I said it once and I say it again:

    I am a ghetto monkey. How much do you think, does a ghetto monkey own? I can tell you:

    I own one 10 years old computer, one pair of shoes, one trouser, my 30 years old refrigerator falls apart, my couch I found in the bulk garbage some 12 years ago falls apart, my carpet (17 years old) got holes in it, but I am a happy, free man. Btw:

    Have you ever thought about the fact, that most people just can’t buy all these shiny sustainable things, simply because they can not afford it? Like I said, my refrigerator is 30 years old, but I can’t afford a new, sustainable one. Uh uh, there might be billions of people out there, who just can’t afford shiny, sustainable shit. That might be a problem^^ There might be infinite unsustainable shit out there, just because people can’t afford some shiny photo voltaic, some shiny Tesla, some sustainable refrigerator ect ect ect.

    Once I saw an interview with a campesino from Southamerica. The neat, northamerican reporter asked him, why he works for the illegal logging mafia. The campesino laughed and said:

    ” Hahahaha, man, I have been chased away from my little field by brute force, now I work for the logging mafia, because my little family gotta EAT something, anything. You know what? When the rain forest is gone, then Northamerica will croak too! We will all craok anyway, that’s just Nature, hahahaha!”

    That could be a problem, aaaahahahaha 8-)

  34. 334
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj

    ” I give to charity. What contribution do you make to charity? Do you live up to your own ideals?”

    I am sure, Trump and all the funny, super”rich” “high” society do-goods give to charity too. So you are in good company.

  35. 335
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Thomas, I have been looking for alternative systems to capitalism, communism and pretty much any other ism that requires growth since I read Limits to Growth in the mid 70s. I have looked at economics research, anthropological research, traveled over a not insignificant portion of the planet’s surface, and found zip. Nada. Zilch. The problem is that any system that eschews growth will:
    a) cement current inequality in place and get worse over time
    b) try to force a redistribution of wealth, which will be resisted by those who currently hold wealth and power, dooming the experiment
    c) doom a significant proportion of the soon-to-be 10 billion persons on the planet
    d) all of the above.

    If you have serious proposals, I would love to hear them. Until then, I’ll continue to live in the real world.

  36. 336
    Nemesis says:

    Sometimes, discussion, debate is exactly like the beautiful art of war:

    There are big knifes and small knifes, stabbing in the back, kills with gloves on and kills with gloves off, barbwire, minefields, submarines, tons of poison, torture tools, propaganda and so on, it’s all in it, if you want it.

    You know what? I like it, I enjoy it :-) It’s exactly like the hot cooking pot of Nature, the struggle for survival, eating and being eaten. And in the end, always the Laws of Nature win and remain, cold and untouchable. And the tree outside my windows gives a shit, he always remains unmoved.

    Let’s move on, brethren, Hoka Hey!

  37. 337
    Nemesis says:

    @Ray Ladbury, #335

    ” I have been looking for alternative systems to capitalism, communism and pretty much any other ism that requires growth since I read Limits to Growth in the mid 70s. I have looked at economics research, anthropological research, traveled over a not insignificant portion of the planet’s surface, and found zip. Nada. Zilch. The problem is that any system that eschews growth will:
    a) cement current inequality in place and get worse over time
    b) try to force a redistribution of wealth, which will be resisted by those who currently hold wealth and power, dooming the experiment
    c) doom a significant proportion of the soon-to-be 10 billion persons on the planet
    d) all of the above.”

    Uh oh, then doom is inevitable^^ But, still, we got one last option:

    Trust in god and pray!

    https://statesymbolsusa.org/sites/statesymbolsusa.org/files/380px-one_dollar_bill.jpg

  38. 338
    Thomas says:

    335 Ray Ladbury says “Until then, I’ll continue to live in the real world.” Well, good for you. :-)

    I suggest you make more inquiries and keep researching the topic at your leisure. And suggest you reconsider your self-imposed constraints and yardsticks while you’re at it. The challenges that rational AGW/CC action place upon the current paradigms may offer you a valuable hint/insight towards the alternative approaches based on the higher ideals of human values, ethics, morality, and survival of the species.

    There are many ways to skin a cat. However this topic is off topic. I limit (try to limit) my comments to matters that directly and overtly are key barriers to making the knowledge of climate science real in the real world without getting lost in theory and hypotheticals.

  39. 339
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @333

    “Have you ever thought about the fact, that most people just can’t buy all these shiny sustainable things, simply because they can not afford it? ‘

    Of course. I was a poor university student once. I think we should do a bit more to help the poor within reason by way of government income support. But I’m a pragamatist, not someone who wants to endlessly philosophise.

    Interesting thing, I was perfectly happy being a poor university student. You grow up and get a job, family, the rat race and material status and arent always any happier.

    But as a student I had a welfare system to fall back on, it was never grinding poverty.

    Plenty of good quality academic studies show the following: grinding poverty is a major cause of unhappiness. Financial security improves happiness, but being “rich” doesn’t create significantly more happiness.

    But many people dont just want happiness, they have a drive for status even if they are miserable!
    .
    Good luck and good wishes to you.

  40. 340
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @334

    ” I give to charity. What contribution do you make to charity? Do you live up to your own ideals?”

    “I am sure, Trump and all the funny, super”rich” “high” society do-goods give to charity too. So you are in good company.’

    Your bitterness and envy comes through. You will have to work on that.

  41. 341
    Al Bundy says:

    BPL: And only a fool would try to explain something to someone by starting out accusing them of having no interest in truth.

    AB: That depends on the goal and who I’m talking to, eh? Who was I trying to explain things to, BPL?

    But I’ll warp back to climate science with the lens of comparing capitalism with laborism. Climate science, like most science, is laborist. My guess is that most of the folks who run this site would work, not just for free, but would actually pay in order to have the privilege and joy of working at their calling (assuming they had no serious financial shortfalls) On the other side, capitalism totally fails with regard to science via the elevation of fools by capitalists. (I used your word!) This is the same scenario that Ayn described, but with regard to architecture. Her conclusion, that totalitarianism that pretends to be communist is evil and stupid so capitalism is perfect, even though The Fountainhead is chock full of capitalistic woes. (Two of the three main villains are capitalists: Peter is a leech who rises by getting ideas from the Hero. He’s totally destroyed. Gail (a guy) is a pure capitalistic publisher who prints whatever makes the most money. His wife (who loves the hero) remarks that he could have been a great journalist [but the fact that he chose to be a capitalistic journalist instead of a laborist one ended up sending his work down a sewer.] In the end, Gail more-or-less renounces capitalism and joins the Hero in becoming a laborist. His final great project is one which is designed to reject profit.

    Who knew? Ayn Rand was a closet laborist and a serious pervert (all of the characters with a gram of likeability join together in a ring of mutual masochism. ~’I’ll destroy you publically and cuckold you in the most vicious way by letting you force me to marry each villain in turn, because I love you and want to give each of us the opportunity to show how much misery and pain we can take.’).

    Anyway, in a world with AI and robots, if you’re not a comfort-giver or on the cutting edge of whatever field brings you joy (or training to get there), you’d likely be worth more to society if you didn’t show up at work. In any case, few will be worth their own healthcare costs when the competition is a hunk of etched silicon and some motors. Capitalism fails completely in that scenario, as shown by climate science and deniers. Capitalism rewards deniers handsomely for getting in the way.

    Brilliance and joyful creation is needed, not capital and forced labor. Note that Mom and Pops and kids in basements, the real job creators borrow their money.

  42. 342
    Thomas says:

    326 nigelj, yes. Neoliberalism is quite nebulous. Similar to a Klingon space ship it’s also a shape shifter. I have no better refs to understanding definitions or why and how that is than I have already provided here over time. Maybe the bible might help: ‘By it’s fruits though shalt know it.’ :-)
    imho ‘insidious’ is an appropriate adjective to define it.

    Clearly (?) introducing ETS/carbon taxes and especially the CCL is just some of many ‘neoliberal’ projects to stop action on CC for both ideological/political and wealth/power motives. (despite many of those who support such ideas and are activists for them don’t know it – sure people will strongly disagree with this comment – so be it.)

  43. 343
    nigelj says:

    Deliberately aiming for zero economic growth globally doesn’t make sense to me. As Ray Ladbury points out, this would consign vast numbers in the developing world to poverty.

    Even if global wealth was distributed more equally, flowing from rich to poor countries as some form of give away, it would not be sufficient to resolve the poverty problem and would be politically resisted anyway.

    That’s not to say we shouldnt help poor countries as much as we can, and some wealth redistribution can make economic sense in various cases if we make sure it gets to the right people.

    Even with zero growth this would not eliminate environmental impacts, as economies would continue to consume for centuries.

    More output of goods and services doesn’t have to wreck the environment, if the negative effects of these things are mitigated. Obviously theres some upper limit to this, but I dont see a strong case for stopping all growth everywhere right now.

    I think we should aim for sensible environmental policies, and growth will find its natural level. It is likely more a choice between high and low growth. It MAY ultimately lead to zero growth, but as a result rather than as a goal.

    Its a complex calculus of growth, economics, environmental impacts etc etc, but it seems we know enough right now that certain environmental impacts are becoming serious, climate change, nitrate pollution etc, and limits have to be put on this. Some of this may reduce growth in economic output, but some wont if alternatives with less environmental impacts can be found. Growth will find its natural level.

    GDP growth has already fallen in western countries.This is probably largely due to market saturation.I think the most likely outcome is a low growth economy in the west (not zero growth) and we will have to make the most of that. Developing countries may have higher growth for some time, but will slow as western countries have slowed.

  44. 344
    Thomas says:

    315 Nemesis, thx, you too! :-)

    Can you imagine what the world (America, Neoliberals, WUWT or even this group) would look like if they too understood and practiced the rational economic psychological philosophical ideal of “The less I need, the more I am free.”?

    Or – What would happen on Earth if, overnight, everyone stopped lying ? :-)

  45. 345
    Thomas says:

    @Nemesis

    “The history of the entire known universe and a long legacy of philosophical and scientific exploration has resulted in this effort to get you to do some critical thinking.

    “And if you turn it down, you’re gonna get left behind. You’ve gotta catch up on your own. Because no one else is turning back to save you.”

    That’s a classic Nemesis. So true in and of itself. (imho)

    Something a climate scientist might say to a denier on a blog forum? :-)

  46. 346
    Thomas says:

    343 nigelj says: “Deliberately aiming for zero economic growth globally doesn’t make sense to me. As Ray Ladbury points out, this would consign vast numbers in the developing world to poverty.

    I suspect this is because you may both be missing ‘the point’ by falling for the usual lines of sophistry and anti-dialectic thought….. sucked into the frames and cultural narratives vs true critical thinking based on observed evidence … real facts and the like.

    example … the developed world could fall down a hole of -20% growth for years while the developing world’s ‘economies’ zoomed ahead individually as nations at +10% for decades. But we can;t have that now can we? “framing” folks. Fish have no idea they are swimming in water under the blue sky or the stars and galaxies of the universe either… there life experience is framed in extremely narrow terms too. ;-)

  47. 347
  48. 348
    nigelj says:

    Thomas @342

    Yeah ha ha neoliberalism involves some klingon shape shifting.

    We also have some klingons in the White House right now, and I wish they would put on a klingon cloak of invisibility or better still just go away.

    Neoliberalism is a a hard thing to define, or perhaps we just call it an abomination. I’m no expert, but I’m interested in the issue and I have read several books related to it, plus various articles, and I recognised some of your links on the issue.

    Like I said I find debates about it frustrating because some elements of neo liberalism or classical liberal economics make sense but others don’t. Text book liberal and classical economics is generally good, but politicians tend to twist it and distort it for their own ends. That’s the nub of the issue.

    I gather you are inferring neoliberalism promotes cap and trade as a weak sort of make believe scheme of dubious value and integrity, but it sounds nice? I think you are largely right, but its a shame because a proper version of cap and trade properly applied can work very well. Its politicians who are the problem as they muck the thing up.

    Classical liberal economics as you get in a text book actually acknowledges environmental problems need governments laws and regulations as a preferred option, and other options include carbon taxes and cap and trade schemes. Most economists today subscribe to this position as long as rules and taxes are not over done.Its more politicians that have a different view. The Republican Party, libertarians and conservatives who oppose basically all of these things.

    Carbon taxes are ok, but will only reduce emissions up to a limiting factor as you would probably realise.

    Rules forcing companies to cut emissions or leave oil in the ground have the virtue of simplicity, but give politicians nightmares. But its probably what they need to man up and do.

  49. 349
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @341

    I have read Ayn Rands novels, as a university student, originally just because someone suggested them. They are entertaining but the philosophy impressed me at first, but I lost enthusiasm by the time I read atlas shrugged. It’s an abominable philosophy of extreme laissez faire capitalism, and became a one sided attack on trade unions focusing purely on the negatives and ignoring the positives, and completely blinkered in respect of the problems of capitalism (in its laissez faire form) and excessive greed.

    You need to understand she grew up in a communist country. This would make anyone sceptical of state ownership etc, and she kind of over embraced capitalism with her eyes closed.

    As far as her ideals of freedom of choice went, this didn’t stop her insisting all the members of her little in group had to smoke tobacco! Apparently they were miserable, unhappy little meetings, a common result of chasing very extreme and purist ideologies of whatever sort.

    She ended up reliant on a sickness benefit, the very thing she despised but was very quick to apply for one. She also promoted it was ok for America to invade third world countries and steal their resources, “because they had no proper property laws”.

    Her focus on individualism is important and valid but life’s not that pure or simple.

  50. 350
    Nemesis says:

    @Thomas, #344

    ” Can you imagine what the world (America, Neoliberals, WUWT or even this group) would look like if they too understood and practiced the rational economic psychological philosophical ideal of “The less I need, the more I am free.”?

    Or – What would happen on Earth if, overnight, everyone stopped lying ? :-)”

    Yes, I can. That would be a very beautiful day. The rich folks would share all their wealth willingly and equally with the poors, instead of saying:

    WE need capitalism, WE need profit, WE need private jets, WE need villas big like castles, WE need swimming pools, champagne, caviar and shit, so we can feed the world.”

    On that beautiful day, all poor people would get material liberation. And all the rich folks would taste immaterial liberation within for sure.

    But the rich folks don’ t have the cojones, to let go, they are not ready for immaterial liberation yet. So far, I see only one chance for the rich folks to get immaterial liberation within:

    Through pain.

    The more we cling to material things outside, the more we are in immaterial captivity within. The more we cling to material things outside, the harder it is, to get liberation within. Pain acts like a transformative fire, that burns down all greed, all illusions, all clinging, all lies, if you are lucky and willing to learn. Remember:

    In the end, we will lose all material shit anyway, gnahahaha.