Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wealth Redistribution and the Global Warming Agenda

There can be no doubt that the stop global warming and wealth redistribution agenda are linked. Look at this gem from the preface to Global Warming A Very Short Introduction:
So to deal with global warming, we must deal with developing countries, and thus we must for the first time in humanity's history tackle the unequal distribution of global wealth. Hence global warming is making us face the forgotten billions of people on the planet, and we must make the world a fairer place. In the 21st century we must deal with both global poverty and global warming. link
This is profoundly misguided logic. First of all, this is not the first time "we" have dealt with developing countries; nor is it the first time "we" have addressed the unequal distribution of global wealth.

I thought the way to deal with global warming was to stop emitting carbon dioxide? This means shutting down a goodly section of American and Western standards of livings.  Why mince words?  What does pumping up Africa have to do with global warming?  Surely the author of this polemic cannot seriously be thinking of improving the lot of Africa's poor.

A profound sense of humanity occurs when something is given to the poor.  A profound sense of propriety is violated when something is taken from someone and given to someone else. Mandated charity is charity destroyed.

I also object to the top-down driven "we" collectivism implicit in the author's grammar and syntax. The author implies that developing countries are unable to help themselves--they need a patriarchal benefactor--a global leveler.
Hence global warming is making us face the forgotten billions of people on the planet, and we must make the world a fairer place.
Imperatives aside, the author of sentence needs a refresher course on economics.  Need we reach back all the way to the Sumerians to show that poverty has always been with us?  Income disparity is a natural phenomenon. This was the implicit "message" of The Parable Of The Gas.

Inequality drives chemical reactivity--for example--electromotive force. Perfect equality is a depressing notion because it implies stasis: there is no potential or driving force for change.  There is no reason to invent because there is no reason to become different.

21 comments:

  1. There can be no doubt that the stop global warming and wealth redistribution agenda are linked.

    I don't agree with that at all. This is like saying that the NRA and evangelical agendas are linked. Yeah, they're linked through the Republican party, 'cause that's the party through which these two different constituencies can best pursue their interest (Or maybe it's just the one that's crazy enough to need their vote). But to say that they can, do or should have a common agenda betrays a profound misunderstand of politics.

    Need we reach back all the way to the Sumerians to show that poverty has always been with us? Income disparity is a natural phenomenon.

    Need we reach back all the way to the ancient Sumerians to show that smallpox has always been with us? Oops. And what does income disparity have to do with poverty? Do you have a need to create an equivalence there?

    Perfect equality is a depressing notion because it implies stasis: there is no potential or driving force for change. There is no reason to invent because there is no reason to become different.

    Who on earth is arguing for "perfect" equality? And why is relative financial net worth the only way you presume to measure variation or diversity?

    I'm starting to wonder if you should recategorize this post under a tag labeled "conversations with Mark Maslin" (or other not very widely read polemicists).

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  2. A profound sense of propriety is violated when something is taken from someone and given to someone else. Mandated charity is charity destroyed.

    The reason for providing public services in a democracy is not because of charity. And as I quoted earlier today on your blog, Adam Smith seemed to understand that progressive taxation served a purpose less platitudinous and parable-driven than real economic concepts, like avoiding economic rent.

    But here he is again, seeing as how it might be better to study the guy who actually developed our empiric understanding of the field than to sloganeer:

    The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

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  3. How is fighting poverty linked to global warming? You act as if i made up that connection--as if the two are only linked in Republican minds. I can continue on from this point and gather more data points: slogans, editorials, tweets, others' blog posts, policy statements, etc. They will all show the same: a resentment-fueled call to tear down the basic structure(s) of wealth creation and replace it with what?

    Likening poverty to small pox suggests finding a vaccine. So let's liken health to wealth. How does health cure illness? Viral illness is prevented by vaccination and short of that, controlled by behavioral change and or quarantine. Look at HIV in Africa for example.

    But again, what does this have to do with global warming? I care too much about science and its public image to see it polluted in this way. Perhaps you and I could reach a detente on this if we agree to quarantine the crackpots like Al Gore and Mark Maslin.

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  4. @Ritmo: I like my own likening of health to wealth. How does health cure illness? By good example.

    How does wealth cure poverty? By good example.

    You and other Sullivanists want to grab the good health & wealth of others to cure an illness by sharing it. More poverty and disease will be the end result.

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  7. Al Gore is no more a crackpot than Newt Gingrich or any politician on the right is. Each one links the disparate groups and agendas that support them as if they form a common agenda. In their own minds and in those of lazy hangers-on they might form a common agenda, but not in reality. (In Althouse-land, though...)

    If you want to complain about this Maslin guy, no one's stopping you. However, Gore's stance on the science has been vetted, unlike Newt's when he complained about how wrong and supposedly demeaning (awwww) it is to draw biological connections between humans and rhinoceroses. And I don't know about you, but I didn't realize that the goal of science was limited to whatever makes a politician feel good about himself.

    You say that bad habits by supposedly "culpable" individuals alone are responsible for poverty, then seem to accept comparing poverty to a state prior to vaccination, and then revert back to saying good examples alleviate it.

    This is nonsense. Either wealth is relative or it is not. (And if it wasn't then why do you extol the idea of it being a limitless good?) We have definitions for poverty, however, that are generally static. I don't know if I agree with that designation or not, but to liken a first-world society to Africa sounds like bunk. Assuming that the widespread problems of undeveloped countries arise from the same cause as what leads to their less frequent persistence in developed countries is not a feasible assumption. I suggest going back to the drawing board and learning about the differences between different problems in different societies, before proposing commonalities.

    And if after that you still want to insist that individual virtue alone is all that matters, no matter the country, (and neverminding your self-congratulatory and unproven assumption that the policies you advocate further individual virtue moreso than they do individual vice), then you are free to do so. But don't expect me to take it seriously without some evidence or actual reasoning to back that up. And do try your best with that. Because, in case you weren't aware, wealthy people have better access to lawyers, politicians and other "professionals" who are in the business of making excuses for their clients' shortcomings.

    Even the constitution recognizes that disparity and attempts to make up for it with a sixth amendment right to representation for all. But the disparity between what a high-priced lawyer (and direct access to a politician) can accomplish and what the pro bono guy can do should be obvious to even you. If wealth is so important to everything in life, then for you to cordon it off and say that it can't buy the perception of virtue, at the expense of determining whether virtue actually exists, is ludicrous! If wealth can do anything, then it can do that.

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  8. I like my own likening of health to wealth. How does health cure illness? By good example.

    How does wealth cure poverty? By good example.


    Funny. I wasn't aware of the curing potential of good habits when it comes to cystic fibrosis, or when it comes to exposure to ozone or other pollutants among a population of inner city asthmatics. But I guess that's because my rudimentary understanding of medical biology and genetics prevents me from making every damn issue one about the virtuous choices of individual behavior alone. Woe is me. I'm so sorry for that. What a scandal. D'oh! Etc.

    Also, you pick up on medical innovation (vaccination) previously, and then implicitly argue that innovations in how we look at (and achieve) wealth can't be possible. Who was individually responsible for the fact that almost all of us are vaccinated now? Oh, that's right. No one. It's an invention that we didn't come up with and policies that keeps us all healthier now, and the individual effort and decisions (and credit) involved are minimized. Does that bother you?

    You and other Sullivanists want to grab the good health & wealth of others to cure an illness by sharing it. More poverty and disease will be the end result.

    Should I really even respond to this unnecessarily personal and even more presumptive morsel?

    Well, I could, if I could bother myself to pick through the silly supposed insult ("Sullivanist") first and find the timid argument underneath that is laying in wait. I mean, it's not my job to do so, but I could first clarify and then respond to what you're trying to say if I felt more charitable.

    But I've already provided more than enough decent arguments and responses to the actual arguments you've presented, so for now I'll abstain from that and wait until you feel vindicated enough in your philosophy to present it fairly and confidently. I don't think it's the first time I've presented these arguments, so hopefully you'll read them honestly if you feel the challenge they represent is worthy of devoting all these posts and comments to them.

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  9. Edited/revised those first two comments and upped your comment count.

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  10. Ok. That's enough litigation (for me, at least) this morning. For now, though, it's off to some banking with the superior financial services of my (socialist?) credit union, magazine racks from Ikea, a breakfast -- make that breakfast/brunch -- burrito, and female company in some way, shape or form. Hasta!

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  11. Should I really even respond to this unnecessarily personal and even more presumptive morsel?

    Hey, I'm sorry for bringing Sullivan up here. But you're they one who constantly links to him without warning.

    It will take me a long time to get over what he did to Sarah Palin. And you were a cheerleader on Althouse.

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  12. I never remember "cheerleading" what he did on Althouse.

    OTOH, if Palin was lying about her improbable pregnancy story, how is refusing to hold a politician to account on something like that honorable or good?

    It's really not a big deal to me either way. I hardly care for Sarah Palin's fortunes for good or for ill. (Although it seems like she can't help symbolizing this idea of Republican intransigence for its own sake, regardless of how it tends to increasingly make her more reality TV show character than serious politician). And I never read (or linked) Sullivan for his finally buried fixation with Palin and her legendary unseriousness. There are things about which I disagree with him, too. So, he had a personal problem with a certain politician. Don't we all? Don't you? You certainly seem fixated with the supposed personal failings of Al Gore. And are your issues with George Soros drawn out and examined in terms of dry, political disagreements or are they personal, as well?

    But if nothing else, the statement didn't make sense. You threw in a reference to a conservative (if heterodox) writer for his supposed support for tax rates that prevent deficits and debts. I've got news for you, man. This is not an uncommon stance. Most people think that budget balancing should not come at the expense of flatter tax rates and reduced entitlements. Progressive tax rates were supported by Adam Smith, and they sensibly account for the fact that cutting people closer to poverty is less humane than cutting people closer to a slightly less wealthy upper class. It also makes more sense economically.

    This is not controversial, although the Republican attempt to make it seem that way certainly is. It has roots in nearly every ethical tradition - Western, Eastern, Christian and humanist, and in the mere recognition that societies require ties, networks - both public and private - between individuals in order for them to agree to decent governance. For if there is no common benefit then there is no popular agreement. And one of those ties is the recognition that we do not cavalierly shrug off the catastrophes that befall other members of our communities and seek to ascribe those tragedies as much to a personal shortcoming as we can.

    If there is no common benefit (regardless of who needs that benefit most), then there is no popular agreement. And everything falls into the kind of anarchy and chaos that leaves conservatives scratching their heads and berating life and how horrible all people are in general, just because... well, just because, revolutions and change and popular dissatisfaction are bad!

    If revolutions and change are so bad, then I suggest you seek to reverse the Republican "revolutions" of the eighties and nineties that gave us the same near-depression state that we had after all the high-faluting deregulation and bubble fever of the 1920s. Learn from history. Tragically repeating it is not a conservative thing and satisfies no one but the most nihilistic.

    You will not change human nature and make it more virtuous by structuring your tax code and entitlement system in such a way as to push more people into poverty and make the richest richer. This is a pointless way to skew things and will only fuck things up, and it only ever has. It's the same old disinterested privilege by any other name that serves no one, and that has always led to corrective justice.

    I wonder if we were having this conversation 800 years ago, you'd be telling me about how if only the serfs looked up to the knights and monarchy, they'd realize how much they need them and how good they really have it.

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  13. Oh, wow. I should have taken it easy with that last comment.

    I just spoke to an old friend of mine who's skeptical about the capacity of new technologies related to digitization and the internet to do as much of anything fun or useful as everyone else seems to think they can. And then, this ordinarily mild-mannered gentleman proceeded to conduct an extended diatribe about how evil hackers might one day take over the world or otherwise disrupt society in irreparable ways.

    I apologize for not being more respectful to your, by comparison, much more mainstream and sane philosophy.

    Your humble servant,

    Ritmo

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  14. Ritmo, I just can't argue right now. Cease fire. I've got a very busy partial week coming up.

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  15. No problem.

    I can definitely respect your being that straightforward about it.

    Good luck this week.

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  16. The sun obviously shines on the wealthy brighter than it does on the poor. That explains (clearly) why tycoons are always seen wearing sunglasses...

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  17. Oh, ok. So now one other guy gives a wacky connection between two different issues. A few more and we could have a baker's dozen. And again tell me, what is the significance of this? Does it make it sound conspiratorial? Why should I care about that any more than you don't about millions of Republican voters who link easy gun access with anti-sex education, intelligent design, and trickle down economic theories? Is that concoction supposedly more delectable than each of the crazy morsels bit by bit?

    Hey, at least you linked to a scaled-down, home-made style web page and not the more professional looking (if no less partisan and ideological) Brent Bozell (there's an unfortunate name) source. That's cool! Conspiracy theories gain so much credibility when they've got that basement bunker feel going for them.

    Please go back to work. Or did your partial week already come to an end? ;-)

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  18. I'm cheered to see that Science still works.

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  19. If I understand the "logic" used by left wing environmental movement, it goes something like this:

    We in the West forgo the use of coal for electricity and develop alternatives--which even they admit are far more expensive now but would get a lot cheaper once we work out the bugs and scale up. At that point the developing world with choose these technologies since they would be cheaper than fossil fuels.

    The problem with their logic is that alternatives will never be cheap due to (lots of reasons but all can be compressed into the categories of) economics and physics.

    As for linking climate change with 3rd world poverty. These would seem to be antithetical. Wealthy people want more things: Bigger dwellings, more transportation and a richer diet all have environmental impacts. If enviros followed any kind of rigorous logic they would want to keep the poor poor and make the rich poor too. That would be the result of their policies, but I don't think this is intentional.

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