Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pervasive love of the Nanny State

Below is a circular from Greg Lindsay of the Centre for Independent Studies, dated November 9. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590. The idea that ANY Australian supermarket does not sell fresh produce is truly remarkable. A classical example of how simplistic theories trump facts among Leftists. The major supermarkets have a huge range of produce wherever they are and even mini-markets have some

Conversations at dinner parties often reflect the fashion and fads of the moment. House prices, schools, the GFC, climate change, and refugees—all have cropped up over the past few years. Lately, it’s the so-called 'obesity epidemic.'

No contemporary issue divides the people who believe in personal choice and responsibility from those who think government should be constantly at our elbows, as it were, nudging our hands away from the salt, butter, eggs, meat, etc.

A recent conversation I had with a dinner companion went something like this.

Dinner Companion: 'I accept that markets are the best way of supplying goods and services for people, but what about the less well-off people who are not eating properly?'

GL: 'What do you mean?'

DC: ‘Oh I don't mean people who live around here who have access to fruit and vegetables but those who live out in (suburb) X where the supermarkets don't stock fresh fruit and vegetables.'

GL: 'They don't?' DC: 'No, they don't.' GL: 'I don't believe you.' DC: 'It's true!'

And so on.

The serious but bizarre suggestion that followed was that the government should force retail outlets in less affluent areas to sell fresh fruit and vegetable and also compel the less well off to buy them ‘for their own good.’

So I checked with the supermarkets located in suburb X. And yes, they do stock plenty of fresh produce. So presumably enough people are buying fruit and vegetables, and no wonder. For as long as I can remember, taxpayer-funded health campaigns have been preaching the benefits of healthy diets.

If there is a legitimate role of government here, it may be to disseminate important public information so people can make informed decisions. But now this seems to be morphing into something altogether different. My dinner companion’s attitude to the Nanny State demonstrated the soft authoritarian streak that is pervading society.

It would appear that we can’t leave it up to individuals to make rational decisions about what is in their best interests. Indeed, it’s now the government’s job to treat us like infants in the high chair and make sure we eat our vegetables! Moreover, if there is a growing issue, such as obesity, overstating the case as my dinner companion did can trivialise it and the public loses interest. (Climate change alarmists for instance are increasingly guilty of this.)

The problem, of course, is that ultimately this attitude is self-defeating. Social theorists call the phenomena ‘learned helplessness.’ The more government does, the less responsible people need to be, and the less responsible they end up becoming. And ever-bigger becomes the role of governments in our lives.

Amazing political censorship attempt by the Rudd government

KEVIN Rudd's word police have banned the Opposition from describing his Government as disgraceful, inept and reckless under new printing entitlement regulations. The Opposition has cried foul as a team of "black marking" bureaucrats are voluntarily vetting letters, newsletters and Hansard in a bid to explain what words are in and what words are banned under the regulations.

Under the new regulations, MPs may not use their printing and communications allowance to disparage or denigrate another political party. Federal Liberal Gold Coast MP Steven Ciobo labelled the regulations as absurd, accusing the Rudd Government of censorship. The words Rudd's word police have banned:


"These sets of rules only benefit the Labor Government (and) Queensland constituents should be very concerned about the mass political interference in the role of federal MPs," Mr Ciobo said. "These are rules that we would point at (within) China and say 'How disgusting'."

Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig hit out at the Opposition, but conceded some bureaucrats were being overzealous. "This is not about what parliamentarians can say, it is about what they can spend taxpayers' money on," Senator Ludwig said. "There is no doubt that the Department of Finance and Deregulation has been overzealous in its application of the rules, (and it's) an issue the Government is working closely with the department and a cross-party consultative group to address. "What is clear is that not one word in these regulations prevents policy criticism by any member of Parliament. "What it does is stop the taxpayer picking up the tab for personal attacks and denigration."

But Michael Ronaldson, the Opposition's spokesman on the contentious issue, accused the Government of taking too long to address the problem. "Unfortunately, the officials in the Department of Finance who are vetting the material have taken this to mean that any strong criticism of Labor policy is forbidden," Senator Ronaldson said.

"We all agreed with the Audit Office findings that the old entitlements system was open to abuse, lacked clarity and needed reform. "Unless we get changes which protect our freedom of speech, the Coalition will have no alternative but to disallow Labor's unfair regulations."


Illegals from New Guinea flooding into Australia's Northern islands

PAPUA New Guineans are pouring into islands in the Torres Strait, flouting immigration laws, running drugs, terrorising people and overwhelming local health and basic services. Community leaders, including the chairman of the federal government's Torres Strait Regional Authority, John Kris, have accused the Department of Immigration of turning a blind eye to the worsening problem north of Cape York, with the political debate instead focusing attention on boat arrivals in the Indian Ocean.

"They are not policing the border . . . . it is difficult to know how many people are coming across," Mr Kris told The Australian. "There has been too much focus put on the boat arrivals and not enough attention on the Torres Strait, where more people are moving into these waters."

Some communities have recently taken matters into their own hands by "closing the borders" to visitors - some of whom they claim roam islands armed with machetes and who are either not eligible for or have overstayed free movement provisions extended to some villages in the Western Province of PNG. The Torres Strait Treaty, signed 30 years ago, allows traditional activities to continue between specified villages on both sides of the border.

But documents obtained by The Australian early last year showed that the government was already aware that thousands of PNG citizens were illegally crossing the border. The Torres Strait Island Regional Council, which represents 14 islands, says little has been done, with some communities having "in excess of 500 PNG nationals turn up" without warning, draining the local water supply. "Immigration turns a blind eye to the fact that 'overstayers' are on the island; their inaction in dealing with the problem makes a mockery of the treaty," Mayor Fred Gela told a Senate inquiry. "Immigration must start to do their job."

Mr Gela told the Senate that PNG nationals were stealing, running drugs and sly-grogging, and had even been suspected of abducting local women. The Senate inquiry has also heard warnings of biodiversity and health risks to Australia, with some figures suggesting one in five PNG villagers who cross the Torres Strait have tuberculosis.

There were 59,000 recorded movements between the two countries last financial year.

Queensland Liberal senator Sue Boyce, who sits on the inquiry committee, last week wrote to Kevin Rudd, saying the federal and state governments were ignoring the problem. "Ignoring these Australians and leaving them to their fate is not an option and, in fact, it would be an international disgrace if no action was taken to secure their safety and protection," she wrote.

In its submission, the federal Department of Health said it was providing services to visitors on humanitarian grounds despite travel not being permitted for health purposes under the treaty.



Three current articles below

Prime Minister Rudd's Chilling Speech

In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has given the most chilling speech (PDF here) with respect to open policy debate that I have ever heard from a leader of a democratic country. The focus of his speech is on "climate change deniers." Who are these people? They include people who are skeptical of climate change science, but remarkably, they also include people who believe that climate change is real and a problem, but disagree with the Prime Minister's preferred policy approach. Rudd states that "climate change deniers" fall into one of three categories:

· First, the climate science deniers.

· Second, those that pay lip service to the science and the need to act on climate change but oppose every practicable mechanism being proposed to bring about that action.

· Third, those in each country that believe their country should wait for others to act first.

He says of these groups: "As we approach the Copenhagen conference these groups of climate change deniers face a moment of truth, and the truth is this: we will need to work much harder to reach an agreement in Copenhagen because these advocates of inaction are holding back domestic commitments, and are in turn holding back global commitments on climate change."

Rudd uses extremely strong terms to characterize those who disagree with his policy prescriptions:
"Climate change deniers are small in number, but they are too dangerous to be ignored. They are well resourced and well represented by political conservatives in many, many countries.

And the danger they pose is this by collapsing political momentum towards national and global action on climate change, they collapse global political will to act at all. They are the stick that gets stuck in the wheel, that despite its size may yet bring the train to a complete stop.

And that is what they want, because they are driven by a narrowly defined self interest of the present and are utterly contemptuous towards our children's interest in the future.

This brigade of do nothing climate change skeptics are dangerous because if they succeed, then it is all of us who will suffer. Our children. And our grandchildren.

Rudd explains why it is that the Copenhagen meeting may fail:
If Copenhagen does not deliver the outcome we so urgently need, no individual climate change skeptic will be responsible, but each of them will have played their part.

Rudd explains that there is no place in government for people holding these views, a position seemingly reinforced this week when the CSIRO stands accused of censoring a paper critical of the Australian ETS:
Climate change skeptics in all their guises and disguises are not conservatives. They are radicals. They are reckless gamblers who are betting all our futures on their arrogant assumption that their intuitions should triumph over the evidence. The logic of these skeptics belongs in a casino, not a science lab, and not in the ranks of any responsible government.

Can witch trials and pogroms be far behind? What bothers me about the speech is not so much the criticism of people who reject mainstream science. Fine, criticism of them as rolling the dice on a minority view is fair and appropriate. What bothers me is the explicit equation of people who question a policy's effectiveness or desirability with the idea of being a "denier" and thus being "dangerous." Rudd is openly conflating views on science with views on politics. Not only does this further the politicization of science, but it also make a mockery of democratic governance. Imagine if George W. Bush had given this same speech in 2003 but about people who deny the merits of his desired policy of going to war in Iraq. There would have been national and international outrage, and rightfully so.

Rudd may be trying to set the stage for domestic failure of the CPRS and more generally that in Copenhagen. But he is doing so in a way that stomps on the notion of democracy and the fact that people have different values and perspectives that can only be reconciled through the democratic process. An observer at the Lowy Institute (where the speech was given) said afterward:
The implication was that these descriptions applied to anyone who opposed the Government's climate change agenda — the PM seemed to admit of no possibility that anyone of good will could be opposed to that agenda

That is a pretty good description of the climate debate. Demonizing one's opponents and calling their views "dangerous" is a first step down a path we don't want to go.


"Snouts in the Carbon Trough"

Mr Rudd accuses opponents of his Ration-N-Tax Scheme of “bowing to vested interests”. That is the pot calling the kettle black. The biggest vested interest is the ALP itself, hoping to harvest Green preference votes from their green posturing. Supporting the alarmists are the gaggle of green industries already reaping dividends from the Rudd subsidies and market protection rackets.

Mr Rudd also tells us that his big business mates want the “certainty” of Emissions Trading. A roll call of these people reveals domination by big firms of auditors and accountants, bankers and brokers, speculators and solicitors, touts and traders - all longing to get into the biggest trading lottery the world has ever seen - more snouts in the carbon trough. The rest of big business merely wants the “certainty” of free emission permits or other special exemptions denied to Joe the Plumber and Fred the Farmer.

Sceptics on the other hand do not have a mercenary army of academics, bureaucrats and publicists who can be bribed or bullied to produce scary climate forecasts or doomsdays ads on demand. Nor do sceptics have the power to silence or sack dissidents in their ranks. Nor do they have the pulpits and power of the UN which, having failed at “peace keeping”, sees “climate control” as its new business model.

The climate realists have only one big vested interest – the desire to live their lives free from the “certainty” of new taxes on everything they buy and new controls on everything they do. This is not about global pollution or global warming – it is about global energy taxes, global government and global redistribution.


Pervasive climate skepticism among Australian conservative politicians

LIBERAL Senate leader Nick Minchin's warning that a majority of the party does not believe in man-made climate change has emboldened Malcolm Turnbull's critics with fresh warnings today the partyroom may reject a deal on emissions trading.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong today challenged the Liberal leader to repudiate Senator Minchin's outspoken rejection of climate change science. She described Senator Minchin's comments as a “direct attack” on Mr Turnbull's leadership.

But today Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop joined the attack, backing Senator Minchin's outspoken comments on last night's Four Corners program, suggesting it was he and not Mr Turnbull who was speaking for the party. “I thought Nick Minchin put the position of the partyroom very well,” she told Sky News. “There is a belief that when we voted the legislation down last time that was the right thing to do. This is a tax that does not address the climate change problem one iota.”

The climate change stoush comes amid fresh speculation Joe Hockey is positioning himself for the leadership with a speech on God and religion. But the opposition Treasury spokesman today denied this was the case. “The leadership is not vacant,” he told ABC Radio today. “Malcolm has my very, very strong support.” Mr Hockey sidestepped questions about whether he wanted to be Liberal leader down the track. “I went into politics to serve my country, my party and my community, and Lord knows where that will take me,” he said. “If one day an opportunity came up then it would be up to others to determine that, not up to me.”

Earlier, Senator Wong conceded getting a deal through will be difficult with many in the Liberal Party convinced climate change is some sort of left-wing “conspiracy”. “It will be difficult. There are too many people in the Coalition who are not fair dinkum on climate change,” she said. “I think the question most Australians would have is who is speaking for the Liberal Party.”

Senator Wong also conceded what world leaders have been saying for weeks that a political agreement with goals and aspirations rather than a binding treaty to replace the Kyoto agreement on climate change is the most likely outcome of talks in Copenhagen. “What we need at Copenhagen is that effective political agreement,” she said. “Not every detail of the treaty is going to be sorted out by Copenhagen.”

Mr Turnbull said today that “good faith” negotiations were continuing with the Rudd government on emissions trading legislation ahead of the talks. “We are in good faith negotiations with the government. I'm not going to be deflected from those negotiations. They will have an outcome. At the end of that we will then decide whether we as a shadow cabinet agree with the outcome and then we will either recommend its acceptance or not to the partyroom,” he said.

“Now the fact of the matter is the Australian people expect us to take a constructive approach to this and that is exactly what we're doing. I mean the Prime Minister's outburst last week was not consistent with those good faith negotiations. But I can assure you we will not be deflected by him and the negotiations are continuing and they will have a conclusion and then we will consider it.”


No comments: