Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The green-left preachers are naive if they believe they can win over deniers

Gerard Henderson

It has been said that Christmas is not universally a time of peace and goodwill since many a seasonal get-together leads to arguments among family and friends. If this account is accurate, then it would be best to avoid readers of Guardian Australia as we enter the silly season.

Last Saturday the Canberra-based Katharine Murphy, who is the Guardian's political editor, sent out this tweet: "Lots of people asking me today how to channel despair about climate change into positive action. I have one simple suggestion: talk to someone who disagrees with you. Christmas breaks seem an ideal opportunity. Argue your case, and, also, listen. Make a connection."

Now, if Murphy's plan is to work, she and her Guardian comrades  will have to take their attempts at conversion outside of her paper's Parliament House and Sydney offices. It is unlikely that Murphy would find anyone inside her office who disagrees with her and, consequently, is in need of conversion on climate change.

In this sense the Guardian is a conservative-free zone without a conservative in any prominent position. Murphy is a fine, hardworking journalist. But her planned entry ito the world of political activism seems naive. It is a rare occasion when A who believes in B can convince Y who believes in Z to adopt A's position.

Life does not work this way. Individuals change position but this usually occurs over time or in response to a traumatic event. The main exception is the religious conversion experience. The best known example of this in Australia occurred in 1959 when American evangelist Billy Graham conducted his Australian Crusade to huge crowds, especially in Melbourne and Sydney. Graham called on his audiences to make a commitment to Christ, which led to many an instant conversion. Murphy does not have the charisma of the North Carolina preacher. Few do.

She apparently believes that if an eco-catastrophist engages someone who does not believe that extinction is upon us all if we do not act on climate change — he or she can bring about a situation whereby the person changes his or her mind.

This position has religious overtones. Murphy believes that she possesses the truth on climate change and that it is her duty to convince others of the righteousness of her cause. Moreover, to embrace Murphy's cause requires an act of faith. The point being that a person at an end-of-year party cannot take positive action of any significance on climate change. Since Australia produces about 1.3 per cent of total carbon dioxide emissions there is nothing that anyone in Australia can do to take any action on climate change that would result in any meaningful change to the climate. This would be so even if the whole nation closed down.

In short, even if Australia had become a world leader in reducing emissions two decades ago, none of this would have reduced the ferocity of the current bushfires in Australian states.

However, a reduction of the fuel load (trees, undergrowth, grasses) would have diminished the intensity of the fires. But this is not something likely to be raised by the Guardian, which presents as the mother paper of the Green Left Weekly.

As Christianity declines in the West, the art of preaching seems to have been embraced by the secular left. The secular-left preachers of our time invariably have tertiary qualifications and live in or near to the central business district. They see it as their duty to censure others on the evils of their ways. Murphy's associates are in "despair about climate change". But it is not the kind of despair that would lead to action even of the symbolic kind, such as turning off the airconditioning, junking the car, abandoning air travel, closing the Guardian and the like. It's really a despair born of the fact that most of their fellow Australians do not agree with them.

Murphy and her Guardian comrades believe that Scott Morrison's government has not done enough to reduce Australia's emissions. The paper wanted a change of government at the May election. Most Australians did not agree. So now the task is to engage those who disagree in a condescending manner with a view to changing their minds while pretending to listen to their views.

The evidence suggests that, for the moment at least, the views of the Guardian are at odds with most voters in Britain, the US and Australia. Hence the support for the Brexit referendum in June 2016, Donald Triunp's victory in Novembe 2016, Morrison's win in May and Boris Johnson's triumph this month.

On the above occasions, many individuals on the lower-economic scale with modest education backgrounds voted for political conservatives and their causes. And they voted against the wishes of those who once proclaimed to be the agents of the working class — the Democratic Party in the US, Labour in Britain and the Australian Labor Party. They did so partly because they are sick of being lectured to by those who, explicitly or implicitly, regard themselves as possessing, a higher (secular) morality.

In Britain, wealthy business executive Gina Miller led much of the opposition to Johnson's attempt to take Britain out of the EU, including launching action in Britain's High Court and Supreme Court. Despite heading the Remain United group, she managed to get an interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky News UK's The Take program on December I.

Miller used the polls her organisation had commissioned to tell viewers that British foreign secretary Dominic Raab would lose his seat to the Liberal Democrats (he didn't) and that a hung parliament without a Conservative majority was "almost set" (it wasn't).

Johnson's stunning victory on December 12 indicated that, for all her education and talent, Miller is out of touch with mainstream Britain. Consequently, she is unlikely to convert her opponents by an argument at Christmas time in Britain or Australia.

From The Weekend Australian of 21 December, 2019

Investment in solar, wind farms drying up

A sharp slump in new investment in wind and solar farms will continue unless a price is put on carbon or the Renewable Energy Target is extended beyond next year, the Clean Energy Council warns.

CEC chief executive Kane Thornton said investment in renewable energy had dropped by 60 per cent in the past year and declines would continue without government intervention. He said this would put pressure on power prices and reliability as coal generators aged.

The comments ignited a debate about whether renewable energy was the cheapest form of power, as advocates including Anthony Albanese and Malcolm Turnbull claim. Energy Minister Angus Taylor said large-scale renewables projects would not receive any further government support. "The clean energy industry has assured us that the cost of renewables is now competitive with alternatives so we would expect investment to continue in the absence of subsidies," he said. "An industry that is now competitive shouldn't require additional subsidies, Mr Taylor said.

Nearly 70 per cent of Australia's electricity was generated from coal-fired power this year compared with 22.6 per cent from renewables. The RET will result in 33,000GWh of power being derived from renewable power generation next year and the subsidies will continue until 2030 but only for plants constructed by 2020.

The scheme operates by allowing large renewable power stations, such as wind farms, to create renewable energy certificates for every megawatt hour of power they generate. The certificates are bought by electricity retailers who sell the electricity to householders and businesses.

Mr Thornton said the industry was not asking for subsidies, despite his call for an extension of the RET. "The RET could actually be extended in a way that provides that certainty," he said "The market will decide whether there is in fact a subsidy delivered or not "(In one project), the renewable energy certificates that were delivered were worth zero. So that project was essentially getting no subsidy but was getting certainty from the target."

The fall in investment from renewables, also shown in a report released this month by the Clean Energy Regulator, comes amid continuing tight supply in parts of the electricity market during periods of high demand.

The Australian Energy Regu-lator launched an investigation on Friday after South Australia's wholesale spot electricity price hit the market price cap of $14,700 a megawatt hour twice on Thursday night, amid a severe heatwave.

With the Morrison government moving to fund a feasibility study into a coal-fired power station in central Queensland, the Opposition Leader this week declared a new coal plant was not needed because "renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels".

"Markets will determine what the economics are of projects," he said. "And the economics of projects are showing that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels and that change has occurred over a period of time. And one would expect that would continue."

According to a draft report on the energy market released by the CSIRO this month, electricity generated from new renewables projects will be cheaper than from coal projects that include carbon-capture storage.

It predicts a new wind project with six hours' storage would generate electricity at between $88-$112/MWh in 2030, dropping to between $82-$108/ MWh in 2030 and $71-$102/1"h in 2050. A new solar project with six hours storage will generate power at between $75-$11.8/MWh falling to $52-$95 by 2050:

A new thermal coal-fired power station that stored its carbon emisions would produce electricity at between $148-$200 MWh in 2020 and $137-$202/ MWh in 2050.

However, the projections show that new gas and coal projects without carbon-capture storage will be  cost competitive with renewables. A new coal-fired power station is expected to produce electricity for between $83-$l12 in 2020, with the price reducing slightly by 2050.  Electricity from a new gas power plant would produce power at between $67-$117.

Grattan Institute director Tony Wood said new coal-fired power stations without carbon capture storage would have trouble receiving finance because of concerns they would be forced to close if emissions targets became more ambitious.

He said the RET had helped renewable energy become competitive and he doubted major clean energy projects would come online under the Morrison government's policy settings.

From The Weekend Australian of 21 December, 2019

Heavy regulation of Airbnb in Noosa resort area

A crackdown on an Airbnb-led explosion of holiday rentals in Noosa is a discriminatory assault on the rights of property. owners, Queensland Law Society has warned. Noosa Shire Council this month passed arguably Australia's toughest restrictions on the online short-term rental market, dominated by Airbnb and Stayz. The move was in response to complaints from permanent residents about "party houses".

Under the changes awaiting state government approval, owners of properties in "low-density areas", including oceanfront Noosa Heads, who want to list on the websites must apply for approval. Properties rented out in the past can continue to be listed, even if they are sold, under a "use it or lose it" provision requiring they are let out at least once a year. Apartments and townhouses in medium and high-density areas are not affected.

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said he shared the concerns of property owners that it was discriminatory and could skew values. He said he believed the scheme could face a legal challenge. "Is this a fair system for homeowners? The answer is no. People have a right to utilise their property whichever Way they want to," Mr Potts said. It certainly does create a two-tier system.

"Rules ought to apply across the board or in this particular case, at least a rule that sees an equal opportunity for homeowners to lease out their properties. "The old saying is that every person's house is their own castle, and they can utilise it whichever way they wish."

The city plan is currently with Queensland Planning Minister Cameron Dick for approval. If approved, the changes will be introduced alongside a council law aimed at creating a code of conduct governing short-term rentals.

The code is yet to be drafted, but is expected to address issues such as properties being hired for parties. Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington defended the crackdown, saying the council was responding to community concerns about the rise of "party houses" and "over-tourism". "We can't be adding tourist beds at the expense of residents, which is the fundamental purpose of what we're approaching in the planning scheme," Mr Wellington said

"When tourist accommodation takes over in residential
housing areas residents no longer know their neighbours, they no longer feel as safe.

"The notion that we're taking away people's rights is really a nonsense because every planning scheme zones every piece of land. "Homeowners have never been allowed to do exactly what want"

Real estate agent Adrian Reed said prestige property buyers were often after homes they could let to holiday-makers. While acknowledging the need for greater regulation, he believed the council's approach was a step too far.

"Other areas are facing these same issues we didn't even get a chance to try and mediate with local law before they (council) deployed the more heavy-handed option," Mr Reed said.

"When you make these changes, you are removing the buyers from the market. That is the concern!"

Airbnb national head of public policy Derek Nola said the company was willing to work with local and state governments to ensure guests and hosts acted responsibly.

Noosa has long been a luxury holiday destination for holiday-makers looking to escape from Sydney and Melbourne. The shire received more than two million visitors last financial year and they contributed more than $1.1bn to the local economy.

From The Weekend Australian of 21 December, 2019

Green left trashes votes by its contempt for the mainstream

Chris Kenny

Almost 15 years ago I wrote about the accidental insight of Mark Latham’s diaries (which were a minor sensation at the time). My thesis was that the diaries revealed a disdain for mainstream people, the voters the former Labor leader was trying to win over.

Reincarnated first as a political commentator and now as NSW’s One Nation leader, Latham seems belatedly to have learned this lesson, becoming an unashamed and articulate champion for mainstream families and values. (To be fair, this is exactly what he threatened to become in the successful early days of his stint as federal opposition leader — the bitterness in his diaries might have been inflamed by subsequent events.)

The point is that you don’t win people over by demeaning them. Bob Hawke constantly praised mainstream Australians, flattering them and appealing to their intelligence. John Howard had a similar approach.

As I put it in reference to Latham’s diaries in 2005: “The left have developed a sneering attitude to the populace. Latham’s description of what he says is half the population is withering: ‘… the disengaged, self-interested middle class, who tend to delegate economic management to the Coali­tion in federal elections, but trust state Labor with the health and education services. Apathy Rules.’ ”

There were many other examples to support my conclusion: “This is a slippery slide — from not engaging with the public, to siding with the elites against an apparently unenlightened public. Eventually there is distrust and even disdain for the very people you are relying on for support.”

Clearly the trend has continued; through myriad turns and issues, it seems this divide has become the defining one in Western liberal democracies — those who hold voters in high regard, and those who look down at them.

Apart from turning off voters, it affects how the politicians behave; the more they sneer at voters, the more they think they can fool them and the more cynical their tactics become. And voters see through it.

Take what I think was the most telling moment in the 2016 US presidential campaign. It did not spring from anything Donald Trump said, it came from his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic,” she told Democratic donors in New York City in September 2016, “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

It is not hard to see why this can be politically fatal. It has become a typically left-of-centre failing but it is a trap too for so-called moderates on the right of centre who shy from tough debates and look for the easy way out.

Take the 2012 US election when Mitt Romney notoriously was caught out lamenting that 47 per cent of voters were locked on to Barack Obama because they “are dependent upon government” and “believe that they are victims”. Romney tanked.

In Australia the left has fallen for this trap repeatedly. Sometimes voters are derided indirectly — think about how Labor and Greens politicians, along with many journalists and commentators, have accused the Coalition of “dog-whistling” on border protection policies. Such a charge, by extension, insults voters in three important ways: it accuses them of supporting foolish policies; it ­hinges on mainstream voters harbouring innate racism; and it tarnishes them as gullible enough to be fooled.

For a decade or two the green left in Australia has accused Coali­tion politicians and, by extension anyone thinking of voting for them, of being xenophobic or even racist when it comes to border security. They are deemed as selfish deniers on global warming, Islamophobes when it comes to countering terrorism, and greedy and heartless on taxes and welfare.

“But hey,” says the left, “haul your racist, sexist, selfish, denier, Islamophobic and heartless attitudes into the polling booth and vote for us.” It becomes tiresome, especially when the policy arguments lack substance.

And it hasn’t worked. Why do politicians demean voters? You can think of the scorn as the ugly but necessary hull that keeps afloat the colourful spinnakers of virtue signalling, or perhaps the invective is the foundation stone to the cathedral of sanctimony. It is only by demonising others that the green left can demonstrate its own moral superiority. So contempt directed at others becomes a necessary precondition of moral posturing.

The same scenario has been played out on steroids in Britain during the past three years of the Brexit debate, coming to its inevitable conclusion in last week’s election.

In the millions of words of analysis, nothing cut through like this pithy and personalised summary from journalist and bestselling author Douglas Murray.

“As it happens, I share the views of the majority of the country,” Murray wrote in the Mail on Sunday. “I have seen the Leftist robots up close for years. I have sat in halls and studios with them and been insulted by them just as the rest of the general public have. They have called me a ‘Little Englander’ because I happen to think that our country isn’t a good fit with the EU. They have called me a ‘racist’ and ‘scum’ because I’m concerned about too-high levels of immigration. They have called me a ‘bigot’ and a ‘transphobe’ because I refuse to pretend that biological sex does not exist.

“And amazingly, at the end of all that, I felt no more desire to vote for them than I had beforehand. I suspect the general public have the same view.”

Murray went on to conclude that the central political divide now is “between the ugly, intolerant, metropolitan Left and the rest of us”. He has summed it up, in a nutshell.

A defining characteristic of modern politics in Western liberal democracies is that the left is regressing to the discredited socialist goals of the 1970s. The young green left has forgotten the lessons of the collapse of the Soviet Union or, more likely, it never learned them.

Instead, the green left tackles a range of economic, environmental, foreign affairs and social goals, and does it with a sense of moral superiority that is misplaced, evangelical and ruthless. To oppose their goals is to be deemed unworthy as a human being and dismissed or attacked — the issues are not to be debated, the dissidents are to be de-platformed or destroyed.

The modern left is corrupted by the coarse manners and lack of persuasiveness in S11, Occupy Wall Street, antifa and Extinction Rebellion. These extremist activists pollute the movement, their memes are propagated through social media and find their way into mainstream journalism before being spat from the mouths of green-left politicians.

This is the reason the love media is such an ironic term. The hate preached by the green left and its media supporters is beyond the bounds of normal discourse. It scares voters away.

Former Howard government minister Amanda Vanstone got a taste of this during the week when she retweeted my climate change column from last weekend suggesting it was “spot on”. This seemingly harmless act invited an avalanche of vile and idiotic abuse from hundreds of people who clearly had not read the article and based their responses on the headline (the only words not written by the columnist and the least interesting aspect to those responding).

Twitter is not only full of insults and vitriol, its prime fault is that it is overwhelmingly obtuse. Whatever is most popular on Twitter is almost invariably wrong; yet, inexplicably, mainstream media take their cue from it. Because it is easy, I suppose.

In this way, the most ridiculous ideas on Twitter, such as blaming Scott Morrison for bushfires or deifying Greta Thunberg as bringing something new to the climate debate, can soon find their way into the news bulletins of our public broadcasters or the pages of Time magazine. All the while the intelligent life forms who ignore all this are never heard from, either drowned out or scared away.

They have their say on election day. And we are left to wonder why the green left hasn’t mended its ways.

The Trump election victory, Russiagate embarrassment and impeachment process, Brexit referendum, Morrison election win and Boris Johnson triumph — the media/political class keep misreading the public and embarrassing themselves. Will they ever learn?

There are only two possible explanations. Either they are too ideological to modify their behaviour — they really do believe their propaganda and despise mainstream voters — or their egos are so warped they forsake the goal of medium-term success for short-term social media gratification.

Either way, they are not offering much hope for working families. nd they won’t find success until they rediscover mainstream values and learn to identify with the people who hold them.


My Christmas wish

Below see a picture of a small W.E. Bassett Company "Trim Trio" pocket knife which makes an excellent key-ring. I liked them so much that in their heyday back in the '60s I bought a swag of them.  Over the years however I gave away some and lost some so now I have only one left -- which is in my pocket every time I go out.  The company's website seems defunct so I cannot order more of them directly.  If anyone can find a current email address for them I would appreciate it

 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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