“Nothing so focuses the mind as the sight of the gallows.” wrote Samuel Johnson. He went on to say,
“Executions are intended to draw spectators. If they don’t draw spectators, they don’t answer their purpose”, Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Terrence Keeley discusses how to resist our current crop of elites who govern by declaring emergencies instead problem solving. His insights are timely since this week PM Trudeau was given a free pass by Canada’s Supreme Court to repeat his emergency sanctions against protesting truckers should anyone else object to his policies. The article at Real Clear Wire is Navigating Contrived Catastrophes Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.
Perhaps this explains why political leaders repeatedly fabricate existential crises in lieu of governing responsibly. Without the sword of Damocles overhead, policymakers just can’t seem to get the adulation they so desperately crave.
Take the fake debt ceiling crisis. The U.S. federal debt cap was first enacted in 1917 when our national debt stood at $5.7 billion. Congress has since raised it more than 90 times with broad bipartisan support. There is ZERO chance they won’t do so again, yet we are told we must quiver and quake until they do. For some reason, a $31.4 trillion limit just isn’t enough to run the greatest country on earth properly.
Or better yet, consider the much-ballyhooed “Net Zero by 2050” time bomb. There was no science behind its selection of the 1.5 degree above pre-industrial temperature target. It was intentionally contrived so politicians and pundits could insist we spend hundreds of trillions of dollars reconfiguring every personal and industrial process to mute it, possibly by a degree or two. Anthropogenic activities are clearly taxing our air, water, and lands. Depending upon tradeoffs like affordability and reliability (and what China, India, and Russia decide to do), less carbon-intensive energy sources may well be preferable, too. Convincing our younger generation they will all die unless the globe urgently reduces its net carbon footprint to zero is another matter altogether. Being more mindful about our consumption patterns while preparing our communities for the probability of more violent weather would be too simple. Better to scare everyone out of their wits so we can get on with doing witless things.
Great societies thrive on consistent policy competence. Failing ones lurch from crisis to crisis. Contriving catastrophic scenarios all but ensures hysteria will supplant sober, reasoned analysis.
Some will argue extreme threats are needed to force modest, salutary changes. After all, a handful of U.S. debt ceiling votes brought about useful policy changes, like the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings breakthrough and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Similarly, threats of impending climate doom have led many individuals and corporations to examine their energy use, seek cleaner alternatives, and eliminate unnecessary waste.
But have these modest advances been worth the price of the abject delirium that has accompanied them? And are recurrent, contrived catastrophes somehow producing better policy outcomes?
Evidently not. Three essential U.S. social programs – Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – are barreling along towards insolvency. Just as the retirement age in France must rise to reflect longer life expectancies and taxation tipping points, so too must U.S. retirement programs respect demographic realities. Maintaining peace through strength in an increasingly dangerous world requires that the U.S. spend more on defense, not less. Unless the current debt ceiling crisis leads to an honest rUeckoning about our most urgent tax and spending priorities, heightened hysteria serves no useful end. Worse, all the faux debt ceiling dynamics convince politicians they’ve somehow done their jobs when instead, they’ve abrogated them entirely.
Similarly, we speak about an “energy transition,” but no realistic projection of future fossil fuel consumption shows any meaningful decline in the century to come. Rising populations, improved living standards, reliability needs for the three billion humans who are still energy insecure, and the first order demands of national security reveal oil and gas will remain crucial sources of our energy mix for as far as the eye can see. The most logical response would be to prioritize energy reliability while recalibrating our emissions mitigation spending towards more climate adaptation priorities. Why spend $100 trillion or more on something that has been entirely contrived and is all but certain to fail when you can spend $50 trillion or less on something that would demonstrably save human lives while improving their livelihoods?
History is festooned with countless ruses about the end of time, some more disruptive than others. They include those of French Bishop Martin of Tours in 375 A.D., and Jim Jones in 1967. Many thousands believed the so-called Y2K cliff would crash every computer, triggering global economic ruin and the rise of the Antichrist. Yet, remarkably, here we all still are, higher in number than ever.
In time, trillions of dollars of investment products now priced against
Net Zero 2050 deadlines will need to be abandoned.
Similarly, the U.S. debt ceiling will be lifted multiple times before responsible members of both parties finally put our tax and spending trajectories into sustainable balance. Panic, like blackmail, compromises sensible thinking. Calm acceptance of measurable risks and their reasonable mitigation are the essence of wise decision-making.
The next time a politician tells you Armageddon is nigh, remind them it’s their only job to make sure it isn’t. If you’ve got the patience for it, you can also show them how easy it would be to avoid.
via Science Matters
February 18, 2023 at 02:25PM