Sunday, May 29, 2011

An old propaganda lurk surfaces in Australia

The Leftist Australian government recently released a "report" designed to prop up its proposed carbon tax. Neither the report nor the tax has gained much traction, however.

To explain that lack of traction, the piece from the Left-run "Sydney Morning Herald" below claims that climate skeptics are psychological cripples, unable to face the evidence.

Demonizing your enemy is classical wartime propaganda and Leftists do it even in peacetime. The first big attempt at it in peacetime erupted in 1950. It is amusing that a 1954 revision of that attack is revived below: The old two-dimensional account of ideology. That account never worked then and it is equally shallow today.

Believe it or not, the author below claims that skeptics are "hierachical/authoritarian" yet it is skeptics who reject authority and Warmists who embrace it! I think it is clear who the mental cripple is! The poor soul writing below has totally lost touch with reality. Would a diagnosis of schizophrenia be too extreme?

And, needless to say, there is not one fact cited below in support of the author's assertions about either climatology or psychology. It is all just bald assertion

I've been thinking a bit about the sea hare this week while observing the fallout from the Climate Commission's report, The Critical Decade. Wondering, too, about primitive human biology, about what factors interfere with our survival instinct - fear, fun, greed, legacy, even good old distracting lust.

The report is a powerful enunciation of what science now knows about climate change and the risks it poses. That the atmosphere and the oceans are warming, ice is being lost from glaciers and ice caps, sea levels are rising and the biological world is changing. "We know beyond reasonable doubt that the world is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary causes."

In the nuanced language of science, it doesn't get much stronger. As the American scientist Naomi Oreskes [Calling Oreskes a scientist is a condemnation of science] has observed, "History shows us clearly that science does not provide certainty. It does not provide proof.

It only provides the consensus of experts, based on the organised accumulation and scrutiny of evidence." And here we have it.

So how do you respond to such confronting news? Do you weigh the credentials of the speakers, study the evidence? Or do you switch it off, turn the page, scream and shout? According to psychological research by the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University, your reaction either way will have little to do with the strength of the arguments or the calibre of the science. It will have everything to do with whether it gels with, or offends, your deep-seated views about morality and how the world ought to work.

Yale law professor Dan Kahan's "cultural cognition of risk" theory attempts to explain public disagreement about the significance of empirical evidence by plotting individuals on two scales of cultural belief: individualists versus communitarians, based on the importance people attach to the public good when balanced against individual rights; and hierarchists versus egalitarians, based on their views of the stratification of society. Simply explaining the science to these audiences, he finds, will only serve to wedge the two sides.

The sliding scales are not unfamiliar. Think Tony Abbott as the archetypal suit-and-tie individual hierarchical - values clustered around free-market enterprise, personal achievement, industry, regard for authority (though not, it seems, scientific authority), traditional family, personal freedom; and Bob Brown is out there as your sandal-wearing communitarian egalitarian, protesting that pretty much everything Abbott cherishes damages all he holds dear.

Put a scientist in front of an audience of individual hierarchicals saying that global warming is high risk, and only 23 per cent of the audience will buy the speaker as trustworthy and knowledgeable. Same message, same scientist, and 88 per cent of egalitarian communitarians nod their heads.

Have the same author change tack to argue that warming is no great drama, and the Abbotts now lap it up (86 per cent), and the Browns wander off (46 per cent). The well-oiled machinery of manufactured denial knows how to push all these buttons.

Yale's audience testing finds the only factor likely to interfere with our psychological gatekeeping is if someone within our "camp" - someone we perceive as sharing our world view - says something unexpected. (Hence the reverberations in industry and markets when BHP chief Marius Kloppers last year urged rapid action to put a price on carbon emissions.) In short, evidence from someone you identify with will sway your view; science - facts - won't.

Same as it ever was, maybe. But new media helps us contrive a self-affirming information bubble, an echo chamber in which only our own beliefs are broadcast back to us. Debate in the US on the Yale findings prompted the reflection that our instincts in this regard mean - as one political scientist observed - "we are not well-adapted to our information age".

The findings also confirm that for all our modernity, tribal leaders remain critical. Leaders of all persuasions - political, religious, industrial, social - have immense power in influencing responses to the most diabolical of problems.

In the foreword to a new book debunking scepticism of science - Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand - Oreskes argues that fear is the major driver of denial. "Fear that our current way of life is unsustainable. Fear that addressing the issue will limit economic growth. Fear that if we accept government interventions in the market place . it will lead to a loss of personal freedom. Or maybe just plain old fear of change."

As economist John Kenneth Galbraith observed, all great leaders share one common characteristic - "the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time".


Gillard's "refugee" hypocrisy

THE past week has brought home that the Labor government can't claim a shred of principle on asylum policy any more. It has shamed itself repeatedly and in a most hypocritical way. Those who condemned the Pacific solution have embraced a Malaysian one. The people who said Nauru was unacceptable for offshore processing in part because it wasn't signed up to the UN convention on refugees aren't worried that Malaysia is also outside it.

If the government wasn't desperate, it would be embarrassed. If its backbench wasn't frightened of the electoral backlash over boat arrivals, it would be up in arms.

Last week the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, lashed out at the deal and Malaysian human rights activists attacked it. Pillay, visiting Australia, toned down her initial criticism after government briefings but still declared the bilateral agreement would need to be scrutinised carefully for its human rights guarantees.

Meanwhile, Malaysian activist Eric Paulsen from that country's Lawyers for Liberty wondered how Australia could achieve what others could not. "All of a sudden, without any changes to Malaysian immigration laws and policies, will asylum seekers suddenly become immune to their day-to-day reality of arbitrary arrest, detention, harassment, extortion, jailing and whipping? We doubt that very much."

Former federal human rights commissioner Sev Ozdowski reinforced a point the opposition has pushed, when he said at least in Nauru "we were able to control the conditions in the detention centre" - Malaysia would be a "much worse solution".

It does seem a leap of faith to believe Australia can be sure the asylum seekers we send there under the "swap" deal won't be badly treated, given the country's record. It will take some formidable monitoring.

The only way the government can get out of its imbroglio is if the deterrent - the fear of being sent to Malaysia and the back of that long "queue" - discourages the boats quickly. Then perhaps, the government hopes, it won't have to send too many people to Malaysia. Or, at least, if the boats slow dramatically, criticism of the nastier aspects of the deterrent will fade. The end will be regarded as justifying the means.

No wonder Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd are out spruiking the "don't come" message, as the government has been working frantically to bed down the formalities of the Malaysian deal, so implementation can start. On another front, negotiations with Papua New Guinea for a processing facility there crawl along.

If the boats keep coming, and the Malaysian 800 quota is filled, the government's border protection political disaster will continue. If the people smugglers are discouraged, on the other hand, Tony Abbott will find a potent issue rapidly subsiding


Just what Australia needs: A Green jobs fund

Never mind that Green jobs have proven a mirage everywhere else

JULIA Gillard is facing union pressure for a $1.5 billion fund from the carbon tax to compensate manufacturers for the impact of the high Australian dollar and the two-speed economy.

In a submission to the government on the carbon pricing policy, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union also calls for a $3.7bn low emissions industry and technology development fund to drive green jobs under a carbon pricing regime.

The call comes as the government is considering creating a multi-billion-dollar carbon bank to manage the development of low-emissions technologies in its negotiations with the Greens on the shape of the carbon pricing package.

AMWU national secretary Dave Oliver said the clean technology sector was worth $6 trillion and there was a trade war between the US and China on how to take advantage of that. "We have to exploit the opportunity putting a price on pollution provides us to position ourselves to be part of the action," he said.

Mr Oliver said manufacturing was under pressure at present, but he was hopeful the Australian dollar had peaked. Mr Oliver said the carbon pricing debate was getting to the "pointy end".

The AMWU argues that its plan, which totals $6.7bn, would "reduce carbon emissions, develop a clean technology industry in Australia and help Australian manufacturing cope with the high dollar".

Kevin Rudd's carbon pollution reduction scheme contained a 6 per cent buffer for the global financial crisis and the government has been under pressure to keep the buffer to alleviate pressure caused by the high dollar on emissions intensive trade exposed industries. The $1.5bn buffer fund would provide $1bn to energy-intensive firms with greenhouse gas emissions reporting obligations to assist them with electricity costs during the first two years of the carbon-pricing scheme.

The union calls for a further $500 million for accelerated depreciation for new low-emissions and energy efficient plant and equipment for firms requiring support to a low-pollution economy. The union has also called for a $1.5bn energy efficiency plan, adding its weight to advocates of action on climate change such as the Climate Institute.

The submission says the low emissions industry and technology development fund would provide grants and cost-sharing arrangements for researchers, entrepreneurs and start-up firms to trial, demonstrate and commercialise low emissions technologies.


Beware Trilby Misso lawyers

Now that crooked Keddies has crumbled, can we hope the same of Trilby Misso? They chased a client for $123,000 despite their 'no win, no fee' mantra

THEIR motto is "because we care" but law firm Trilby Misso has been slammed by a judge for the way they treated a client.

The high-profile "no win, no fee" firm was branded as dishonest after demanding more than $123,000 to release the man's legal file after dropping his case because they believed it could not be won. A Supreme Court judge last week referred Trilby Misso to the Legal Services Commissioner, calling for the firm to explain its "outrageous" costs bill.

"To insist on immediate payment of monies in circumstances where none were chargeable is dishonest," Justice Duncan McMeekin said, in a judgment delivered in Rockhampton.

Townsville church minister Colin Ireland, 57, who was injured in a boat ramp accident in 2006, hired Trilby Misso to represent him in a personal injury claim in 2009. But in August last year, Trilby Misso terminated Mr Ireland's retainer, after deciding it was too risky to proceed on a no win, no fee basis.

Mr Ireland then asked for his case file so he could retain another solicitor, but was shocked when Trilby Misso demanded "immediate payment" of $123,522 before it would release the file.

The firm later said it would accept $35,000. Mr Ireland took Trilby Misso to court and also complained to the Legal Services Commissioner.

His barrister, Graeme Crow SC, argued that Trilby Misso only had a right to be paid legal costs if it successfully obtained damages or costs for Mr Ireland.

Justice McMeekin said by terminating the retainer "without good cause", Trilby Misso had stalled Mr Ireland's claim and forced him to find other lawyers. He ordered the files be handed over.

"Absent some explanation, the impression is that an outrageous amount was demanded in an attempt to coerce (Mr Ireland) into accepting an obligation to pay the lesser amount of costs when offered," Justice McMeekin said in his decision.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why would a law firm wait-allow, the fees for "the work done" on this case of Mr Irelands to blow out to $123,000 before they decided to ditch the client-case?

Why is there so much victimisation of victims in Australian compensation claims?

The Australian compensation-legal system is supposed to raise people up from the injuries they have endured, not bury them alive.

How would you like your plaintiff, your honour, battered or crumbed?

Please help us all Julia Gillard you have profound-intimate knowledge of the legal system. Bring back the biff into the legal arena for injured workers-citizens.