Australia’s bushfires all you need to know

This is dead on: Media more destructive than fires:

Just like many other people I know, I have been inundated by messages from family and friends overseas, inquiring about my safety, having been terrified by the media reports of what seemed like an environmental armageddon engulfing the entire country….

Watching the hysterical and over-sensationalised coverage overseas has convinced many that the very existence of the nation is at stake. And the social media, if anything, has been even worse, with a number of completely misleading maps and photos exaggerating the extent of the affected areas by two-figure factors. As I pointed out, indeed the area the size of the state of Kentucky has been burned out, but unlike most other places on Earth, certainly in the developed world, Australia fits in nearly eighty Kentuckys, most of them pretty empty of human presence and activity.

Media sensationalises at the best of times in a never-ending quest for more eyeballs (“if it bleeds it leads”, or, in this case, “if it’s on fire, we’re on fire”) but the intersection of a large scale natural disaster with the “climate crisis” activism has generated a truly terrifying inferno of human passions where news becomes propaganda and the narrative trumps the objectivity. A significant proportion of the population – and the majority in the media – want to see the fires as Gaia’s wrath, with the disaster turning into green porn to terrify, titillate and agitate. Tourism has now become one of the casualties of this rhetorical excess, a collateral damage to the pursuit of a political agenda. This crisis is very much man-made and the economic pain unnecessarily inflicted on a whole industry because you wanted to make as terrible a point as possible will hang around your necks like a charred albatross, dear green activists on the streets and those masquerading as journalists.

Plus:

Impeachment all for show

Made it back from the US where they had just begun the impeachment business. And in the hotel we were staying at – perhaps explicable because we were in California – it was MSNBC running in the restaurant night and day. My conclusion: in comparison CNN is balanced and fair. Non-stop with the occasional moment of foreign news devoted to bushfires in Australia.

The enforced media-driven ignorance of the American population is startling. The hatred towards PDT you come across everywhere is incredible. The ayatollahs of the American networks could not be more one-sided.

As for the impeachment here are the Senate draft rules.

Essentially, the impeachment trial will be gone in about a week and then it’s on to the State of the Union. The Democrats assume that not only is a week a long time in politics, four years and ten months is an eternity. Nothing going on today will matter then. They are giving away 2020 and waiting for 2024 where the present crew and the present political set of “leaders” and their arguments will have discredited themselves. Not that I think that the Dem nominee cannot win, but I do think there are enough Democrats who hope whomever it is does not win.

And while the tweet below is a bit old, it is dead on for me.

The Harding recovery of 1921

From The Mises Institute: “The Forgotten Depression of 1920” by Tom Woods. At the height of the GFC in 2009 as public sector spending to cure the recession was moving into high gear, he wrote:

Little, if any, public mention is ever made of the depression of 1920–1921. And no wonder — that historical experience deflates the ambitions of those who promise us political solutions to the real imbalances at the heart of economic busts.

So what did Harding do, and how did it all work out?

The conventional wisdom holds that in the absence of government countercyclical policy, whether fiscal or monetary (or both), we cannot expect economic recovery — at least, not without an intolerably long delay. Yet the very opposite policies were followed during the depression of 1920–1921, and recovery was in fact not long in coming.

The economic situation in 1920 was grim. By that year unemployment had jumped from 4 percent to nearly 12 percent, and GNP declined 17 percent. No wonder, then, that Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover — falsely characterized as a supporter of laissez-faire economics — urged President Harding to consider an array of interventions to turn the economy around. Hoover was ignored.

Instead of “fiscal stimulus,” Harding cut the government’s budget nearly in half between 1920 and 1922. The rest of Harding’s approach was equally laissez-faire. Tax rates were slashed for all income groups. The national debt was reduced by one-third.

According to economist Benjamin Anderson quoted by Wood, a name you will not know, but an active anti-Keynesian from the 1940s:

“In 1920–21,” writes Anderson, “we took our losses, we readjusted our financial structure, we endured our depression, and in August 1921 we started up again.… The rally in business production and employment that started in August 1921 was soundly based on a drastic cleaning up of credit weakness, a drastic reduction in the costs of production, and on the free play of private enterprise. It was not based on governmental policy designed to make business good.”

Harding had done what he said he would do. More from Tom Woods:

In his 1920 speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination, Harding declared,

We will attempt intelligent and courageous deflation, and strike at government borrowing which enlarges the evil, and we will attack high cost of government with every energy and facility which attend Republican capacity. We promise that relief which will attend the halting of waste and extravagance, and the renewal of the practice of public economy, not alone because it will relieve tax burdens but because it will be an example to stimulate thrift and economy in private life.

Let us call to all the people for thrift and economy, for denial and sacrifice if need be, for a nationwide drive against extravagance and luxury, to a recommittal to simplicity of living, to that prudent and normal plan of life which is the health of the republic. There hasn’t been a recovery from the waste and abnormalities of war since the story of mankind was first written, except through work and saving, through industry and denial, while needless spending and heedless extravagance have marked every decay in the history of nations.

Wood goes on:

Many modern economists who have studied the depression of 1920–1921 have been unable to explain how the recovery could have been so swift and sweeping even though the federal government and the Federal Reserve refrained from employing any of the macroeconomic tools — public works spending, government deficits, and inflationary monetary policy — that conventional wisdom now recommends as the solution to economic slowdowns. The Keynesian economist Robert A. Gordon admitted that “government policy to moderate the depression and speed recovery was minimal. The Federal Reserve authorities were largely passive.… Despite the absence of a stimulative government policy, however, recovery was not long delayed.”

Australia, by the way, did the same with the same result in the 1930s. Who remembers? Unless it’s true in theory it can never have been true in practice.

Why is Robert Skidelsky speaking at Mont Pelerin??

I’m off to the regional meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in Palo Alto which is the meeting of the remnants of the last few remaining supporters of market economies not only as the means to prosperity, but also as a necessary element in the preservation of political freedom.

So imagine my astonishment to see this as one of the sessions being on offer:

1:15 pm – 2:30 pm Lessons Learned from History for the Future of Freedom
Gabriel Calzada, Universidad Francisco Marroquín (Chair)
Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover Institution
Amity Shlaes, Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation
Robert Skidelsky, Warwick University

This is from Robert Skidelsky’s Wikipedia page:

In September 2015, Skidelsky endorsed Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign in the Labour Party leadership election, writing in The Guardian: “Corbyn should be praised, not castigated, for bringing to public attention these serious issues concerning the role of the state and the best ways to finance its activities. The fact that he is dismissed for doing so illustrates the dangerous complacency of today’s political elites. Millions in Europe rightly feel that the current economic order fails to serve their interests. What will they do if their protests are simply ignored?”

As a minor matter next to this, but not minor to me, is that he is the most prominent defender of Keynesian economics, along with Paul Krugman, anywhere in the world. There is also a fact virtually unmentioned on his own Wikipedia page but mentioned here in relation to a disgraceful book he published at the start of the GFC: Keynes: The Return of the Master.

Keynes: The Return of the Master is a 2009 book by economic historian Robert Skidelsky. The work discusses the economic theories and philosophy of John Maynard Keynes, and argues about their relevance to the world following the Financial crisis of 2007–2010.

I’m not surprised he is reluctant to have the book mentioned. Want more? From the same source:

Chapter 8 sums up Keynes’s relevance to the current age as of 2009. The author suggests that Keynes would likely advise us to rethink macroeconomic policy, with a greater emphasis on balanced growth and with a somewhat large role for government in ensuring there is a smooth flow of investment to help protect the economy from unpredictable shocks. Macroeconomics should be reformed so that it again recognises the role of uncertainty and so it draws on other areas of knowledge such as history and International political economy, with a less central role for maths. The global savings glut needs to be addressed. Ethics should once again have a role in guiding capitalism, as should Keynes’s vision of harmony, where differences are cherished rather than pressured to conform, as can be the case with current concepts of “social cohesion” and “consensus”.

Why is such an out and out socialist being allowed to speak at Mont Pelerin? And on that minor matter of Keynes, this is the most recent cover description for my next book which I have just sent to the publisher.

Classical Economic Theory and the Modern Economy’

Steven Kates

Economic theory reached its highest level of analytical power and depth in the middle of the nineteenth century among John Stuart Mill and his contemporaries. This book explains classical economics when it was at its height, followed by an analysis of what took place as  a result of the ensuing Marginal and Keynesian Revolutions that have left economists less able to understand how economies operate.

Chapters explore the false mythology that has obscured the arguments of classical economists, clouding to the point of near invisibility the theories they had developed. Kates offers a thorough understanding of the operation of an economy within a classical framework, providing a new perspective for viewing modern economic theory from the outside. This provocative book not only explains the meaning of Say’s Law in an accessible way, but also the origins of the Keynesian revolution and Keynes’s pathway in writing The General Theory. It provides a new look at the classical theory of value at its height that was not based, as so many now wrongly believe, on the labour theory of value.

A crucial read for economic policy-makers seeking to understand the operation of a market economy, this book should also be of keen interest to economists generally as well as scholars in the history of economic thought.

 

Swarbrick [swȯrbrɪk] noun – a believer in cataclysmic anthropogenic climate-change

Reprinted in The Oz from The Economist was an article on how English lags behind in climate change word creation. It’s about how across many linguistic groups but unlike in English new terms are being coined in relation to climate change. There we find this:

Van Dale, a dictionary publisher, lets the Dutch-speaking public vote on its word of the year (in separate contests in Belgium and The Netherlands). For 2019 Belgians chose winkelhieren, or “buying local”. The Dutch went with an imported word that has a good case for being the winner in English, too: “boomer”.

As Chloe Swarbrick, a 25-year-old member of New Zealand’s parliament, was giving an impassioned speech on the impact of climate change on her generation, she coolly dismissed a heckling older MP with a curt “OK, boomer”. The phrase was already an internet meme; Swarbrick made it the talk of the offline world as well.

I’m not sure I can actually think of anyone lower on my list of authorities on anything than “a 25-year-old member of New Zealand’s parliament” but let that be. And myself being one of these baby boomers, whose generation has done so much to lower the collective common sense of the planet, I will remind Ms Swarbrick that what she thinks she knows she learned from us, from us baby-boomers, her teachers and professors at every step along the road of her education.

But what struck me even more in the search for a collective term to describe “a believer in cataclysmic anthropogenic climate-change”, now all so common everywhere, is that in her honour such people should be referred to as a “swarbrick”. It’s the brick part that I find so accurate, as in “thick as a brick”, but also because of how lacking in melody and sweetness the term itself seems to be. You’re just a swarbrick, you climate change ninny. Like Victoria was turned into “Victorian”: we would have swarbrick turned into “swarbrickian” in its adjectival form.

I imagine that Ms Swarbrick would take this usage as a badge of honour.

Learned ignorance page after page

Went into a bookshop today and went to the politics section and this was a part of the selection of what I found. There must have been around a dozen books on American politics, that were all were desperately anti-Trump and with many of them turned towards us potential readers to ensure we saw what there was.

Nothing will apparently educate the “educated”. Their ignorance is invincible. Their shallowness knows no depths. The incapacity to learn from actual real world experience is capacious. It is truly frightening how much they don’t know about so much, but worse, the extent to which they will close their ears and eyes to alternatives.

I find it the same in discussing economics with many of these so-called experts. The American economy may never have prospered as it now is. Jobs numbers are increasing while real wages at the bottom of the income distribution are rising for the first time in decades.

PDT foreign policy is another area where one success follows another. I am sickened at the thought that Iran could just blow an airliner out of the sky. Seriously, whose side are they on? It’s not yours.

The consistency of the left

No one can be more consistent than the leaders of a modern left-side party. Policies are irrelevant – they just do or say whatever will lead them to power. Take this for an example: Oppose Iran sanctions, but support BDS against Israel?

Contrary to the claims of some of its apologists, the purpose of BDS is not to pressure Israel’s government to change its policies. As the founders of the movement and its leading advocates in the United States have repeatedly made clear, its goal is to eliminate Israel.

So if you support BDS against Israel but oppose sanctions against Iran—a brutal theocracy that oppresses its own people, seeks to impose its brand of Islamist tyranny on others via terrorism, and is dedicated to the goal of destroying Israel—then you are not merely being hypocritical. Singling out Jews for treatment that you think not even one of the worst governments on earth deserves is a form of bias that is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism.

Then there’s this:

Donald Trump and the mythmakers from Caroline Glick.

For the past 40-odd years, two narratives have guided American Middle East policy. Both were invented by the Carter administration. One relates to Iran. One relates to Israel.

Both narratives reject reality as the basis for foreign policy decision-making in favor of delusion. Over the past two months, President Donald Trump has rejected and disavowed them both. His opponents are apoplectic.

As far as Iran is concerned, as journalist Lee Smith explained in Tablet online magazine this week, when Iranian “students” seized the US Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, they placed the Carter administration in a dilemma: If President Jimmy Carter acknowledged that the “students” weren’t students, but soldiers of Iran’s dictator Ayatollah Khomeini, the US would be compelled to fight back. And Carter and his advisers didn’t want to do that.

So rather than admit the truth, Carter accepted the absurd fiction spun by the regime that Khomeini was an innocent bystander who, try as he might, couldn’t get a bunch of “students” in central Tehran to free the hostages.

 At the base of their decision to prefer fantasy to reality in regards to Iran was the hope that Khomeini and his “students” would be satisfied with a pound or two of American flesh and wouldn’t cause Washington too many other problems.

So too, as Smith noted, the Carter administration was propelled by guilt. The worldviews of many members of the administration had been shaped on radical university campuses in the 1960s. They agreed with the Iranian revolutionaries who cursed Americans as imperialists. They perceived Khomeini and his followers as “authentic” Third World actors who were giving the Americans their comeuppance.

Khomeini and his “Death to America” shouting followers got the message. They understood that Washington had given them a green light to attack Americans in moderate and, as Smith put it, “plausibly deniable” doses. it. For the next 40 years, Iran maintained its aggression against America. And from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, every president since Carter accepted and kept faith with Carter’s decision not to hold the Iranian regime responsible for the acts of aggression and war it carried out against America through proxies.

Which continues:

This then brings us to President Trump. Trump’s decision to kill Qassem Soleimani – who as commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force was the head of all of Iran’s regional and global terror apparatuses – destroyed the Carter administration’s Iran narrative.

Soleimani was killed in Baghdad along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the commander of one of the Soleimani-controlled Shiite militias in Iraq. Iraqi protesters, who have been demonstrating against Iran’s control over their government since last October claim that Soleimani was the one who ordered al-Muhandis to kill the demonstrators. More than 500 demonstrators have been killed by those forces in Iraq over the past three months.

By killing the two together, the Americans exposed the big lie at the root of 40 years of American deliberate blindness to the reality of Iranian culpability and responsibility for the acts of terror and aggression its surrogates have carried out against America and its allies.

By killing Soleimani, Trump made clear that the blank check for aggression the previous six presidents gave Tehran is now canceled. From now on, the regime will be held responsible for its actions. From now on US policy towards Iran will be based on reality and not on escapism.

At least from now on until the next post-modernist clown, looking to preserve every possible constituency, takes over, which must happen eventually.