"He's a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys; he may look dumb but that's just a disguise; he's a mastermind in the ways of espionage." Charlie Daniels, "Uneasy Rider" To John Quiggin: Reassuring climate "delusions" help us all to avoid engaging with "enemies" in exploring common ground - TT's Lost in Tokyo

To John Quiggin: Reassuring climate "delusions" help us all to avoid engaging with "enemies" in exploring common ground

I left the following comment on John Quiggin`s "Libertarians and delusion" post (other comments are noted in my preceding posts):


November 6th, 2009 at 14:03 | #34


I “have started to entertain the view that there is either an actual or perceived conflict between reality and libertarian ideology.”

Thanks for this concession, John, but of course this is true for ANY ideology (as well for the rest of us more perfect humans who always have to battle with cognitive conservatism). And yes, it leads to a combination of tribalism and wishful thinking, and in some cases a denial of inconvenient science.

Sea Bass says it well: “So what we have is many libertarians, who are usually not experts on the science of climate change, being asked to blindly accept scientific conclusions that are often promoted by people and organisations whose political beliefs are antithetical to their own.”

Thinking that libertarians are more susceptible to “delusion” than anyone else is itself a cognitive trap – one that provides comfort to those who believe that there is a serious cause for concern about climate change (me too), and that it`s one easily addressed by government, and leads them to ignore the empirical evidence for the ways governments screw up (and are manipulated, and to conclude that those who oppose government action are evil.

I`ve made several references to the empirical case for caution in thinking that government is going to make things better rather than worse; the work of Lin Ostrom and the reasons the Nobel Prize committee gave her the award are a recent one. But as I noted in comments to a post by Tim Lambert earlier this year on the “economists`s consensus”:

85 “Free market people do not argue that all government allocation of goods is ineffective. It simply suffers from a high incidence of moral hazard and inefficiency, and if it does not account for the market (which it has little incentive to do as it is mostly about politics) any growth from it will likely be unsustainable.”

Well said, Craig; commonsense examples of moral hazard and inefficiency can be seen in:

* our oversupply and overuse of our “defense”, e.g., Iraq & Halliburton, Homeland Security, domestic spying, military-industrial stuff generally;
* our agricultural pork: price supports, ethanol, sugar;
* the government’s provision of “war on drugs” to save us from mad reefer smokers, etc., resulting in Prohibition-like crime/corruption/stifled inner city growth, trampled stae and local rights and troubles in all supplying/conduit countries;
* cheap oil/gas/hardrock mineral/timber/grazing leases;
* an oversupplied but underperforming levee system;
* huge bonuses and huge risks generated at Freddie and Fannie;
* an FDA and Ag Dept that notes bad peanut butter mfg but says nothing, yet prohibits small dairy and meat producers from advertising hormone-free milk and mad cow disease-free beef, etc.

Who couldn’t want more of this?

Posted by: TokyoTom | February 17, 2009 6:47 AM

All issues that Tim – and you, too, apparently – just conveniently don`t seem to see at all, or at least have a tough time finding the time or space to address, preferring to delve into arcania about various libertarian cults. But of course now there are lots of environmentalists, voters, pundits and even scientists like Jim Hansen who are decrying what looks like an enormous C&T road wreck emerging as the preferred climate option in Washington.

Just as I am working hard to make sure that libertarians are not blunting their own message by hiding their heads in the sand on the science, so do I think that those who (rightly I think) are concerned about AGW ought to be paying quite a bit more attention to the problems pointed out by libertarians about the misuse of government by powerful insiders, the knowledge problem and bureaucratic perversities.

Sadly, there seems to be little interest by most in exploring the very wide middle ground of undoing the screwed up policies that have helped to generate the frustrations that many feel today and the engender what has become a snowballing fight over the wheel of government.

Why can`t we have a little more exploration of root causes and common ground? Must it remain a no-man`s land, while partisans battle, and corporate interests scheme?



Published Fri, Nov 6 2009 1:04 PM by TokyoTom