UN’s climate change chief acknowledges 17-year pause in global temperature rises!

These people have no shame. From The Australian:

THE UN’s climate change chief, Rajendra Pachauri, has acknowledged a 17-year pause in global temperature rises, confirmed recently by Britain’s Met Office, but said it would need to last ’30 to 40 years at least’ to break the long-term global warming trend.

Plain and simple, in his view we will have to wait another fifteen years to see if global warming hysteria is a fraud and a con. Meanwhile, continue to ruin your economies just in case. The harm such people have done is immense. And what does he say to all this:

Overall, Dr Pachauri said, ‘we aren’t doing all that well’ in global attempts to combat climate change.

I would say, instead, that we have done really well since even he agrees that temperatures have stopped rising. What a bag of wind. What a fraud and a con this global warming has been, in exact keeping with all of the other socialist idiocies of the past century or two.

Meanwhile, in a bit of grandiose condescension, in the caption under the picture we read:

Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said in Melbourne yesterday everyone has the right to question science.

Will they give him the flick at the UN. You must be kidding. He gets to keep his job, travel the world in first class luxury and live in air conditioned hotel suites at our expense.

The politics of the surreal

An article, “Brave New World”, by Victor Davis Hanson. Final para, but read all the paras that come before:

Panta rhei — ‘everything is in flux’ — Heraclitus says. The world we knew is not the one we wake up to after a short nap. January 2009 now seems like a far-off dream, in a way that 2016 may be a nightmare.

A surreal journey through recent times. If I hadn’t been there myself, it would be impossible to believe it was true.

Making people richer at differential rates

Richard Epstein has put together an article, In Praise of Income Inequality, which scissors to ribbons the notion that making people richer at differential rates is somehow contrary to our social good. Here is the core of the issue:

Consider two hypothetical scenarios. In the first, 99 percent of the population has an average income of $10 and the top 1 percent has an income of $100. In the second, we increase the income gap. Now, the 99 percent earn $12 and the top 1 percent earns $130. Which scenario is better?

This hypothetical comparison captures several key points. First, everyone is better off with the second distribution of wealth than with the first—a clear Pareto improvement. Second, the gap between the rich and the poor in the second distribution is greater in both absolute and relative terms.

The stark challenge to ardent egalitarians is explaining why anyone should prefer the first distribution to the second. Many will argue for some intermediate solution. But how much wealth are they prepared to sacrifice for the sake of equality? Beyond that, they will have a hard time finding a political mechanism that could achieve a greater measure of equality and a program of equitable growth. The public choice problems, which arise from self-interested intrigue in the political arena, are hard to crack.

The reality is that people do make inter-personal comparisons. And not only that, there are some people who really would prefer that others were made worse off even if it would mean they were made worse off themselves. Envy is the single largest driver in economic and social relations. But we should recognise it, not by succumbing to the desires of some to crash the whole apparatus because they hate the success of others. We should instead call them out on it and make them justify ruining the prospects of us all so that they can indulge in their vicious attitudes towards success.

The large problem is that those who harbour these anti-social beliefs, but who are also in a position to infuse those attitudes in policy, are doing all right for themselves since if they are able to influence policy they have, by definition, achieved a position of power. It is a problem for everyone that someone can make a really good living by representing the envious and worm eaten by pretending they are really in favour of equality and fair dealing. They never seem to think they themselves should suffer the reduction in living standards they impose on others. No good ever comes of having these people in power but how to fight them off remains a perennial problem.

Scholars do not always change their minds – the Keynesian case

I noted in an earlier post Menno Rol’s characterisation of the epistemology of Charles Sanders Pierce. There has now been a very insightful reply from Altug Yalcintas who takes this much further along.

Menno Rol wrote: ‘The heart of the epistemology of Pierce can be formulated as the claim that sticking to old beliefs is a man’s normal inclination and that this is in fact rational.’

I agree. However, Menno Rol also wrote: ‘In order to learn, we update old beliefs with a certain unwillingnessin the face of counterevidence, facts that we stumble upon daily. The updating process runs via hypothesis making: inference to the best explanation. What counts as the best explanation depends not only on the newly encountered facts, but just as much – or even more – on our old beliefs. Again, this is rational.’

I disagree with Menno Rol here because scholars, who run into counter-evidence or refuting reasoning, do not always change their minds or update their beliefs. I think the reason is that ‘epistemic costs’ in scholarly life are significantly high.

Epistemic costs, to my understanding, refer to the costs involved in operating the various scholarly arrangements such as collecting data, drafting papers, arguing with other scholars, and replicating the results of old models. Epistemic costs are sometimes so high that, for example, errors that scholars made in the past such as plagiarism and deterioration of data are not always remediable today. As a consequence, scholars sometimes keep reproducing erroneous models. There are at least two reasons for this: (1) there is almost no reward in the academy in going back to the models and explanations of older generations and (2) it is sometimes impossible to replicate what older generations wrote. This suggests that the scholarly world is a world of positive epistemic costs in which negative externalities are not always and perfectly self-corrective. Perfect solutions do not come about so easily because scholarly mechanisms, such as refereeing and reviewing as well as the ethics of scholarly behaviour and certain codes of act, including the issue of liability, that help increase the productivity of scientific processes, cannot fully correct or cure the harmful consequences of individual scholarship. The problem of epistemic cost is that we do NOT ‘update old beliefs’ in the face of counter-evidence and errors frequently remain uncorrected.

Reminding the SHOE-List Ramzi Mabsout’s original question: would anybody suggest any cases in which old habits of thought prevent scholars from changing their minds despite the fact that there is sufficient evidence to abandon a refuted paradigm?

In its own way this is a longer version of economic theory advances funeral by funeral. As he argues, “there is almost no reward in the academy in going back to the models and explanations of older generations”, part of the reason that the history of economic thought remains so far outside the mainstream. And given how difficult it is to even get people to look at evidence from the past, he is surely right where he wrote, “we do NOT ‘update old beliefs’ in the face of counter-evidence”. He finally returns to the original question, “would anybody suggest any cases in which old habits of thought prevent scholars from changing their minds despite the fact that there is sufficient evidence to abandon a refuted paradigm”.

The example of Keynesian macroeconomics, and especially the notion of aggregate demand, ought to be ripe for refutation but this has not been even remotely the case. The straightforward fact is that government policy now not only ignores macroeconomic theory but acts precisely in the opposite direction. From The Australian we have this summary of the communiqué issued by the G20 just this week:

In a carefully worded final statement, G20 leaders said at the weekend they were committed to ensuring ‘sustainable public finances’ and stood by their prior commitments to halve their budget deficits by this calendar year and stabilise their debt levels.

And we are not talking about economies that have begun to find their way back but economies at the bottom of the cycle and in many ways still trending down. These are economies in deep recession with high unemployment, the very conditions for which Keynesian theory was supposedly designed. But they have tried the Keynesian solution and it not only has not worked but has unambiguously caused economic conditions to deteriorate. Yet there are no major articles within the profession arguing on the need to abandon Keynesian theory. This is a conundrum to myself and you really do have to ask why that is.

Product differentiation

What a laughable story that the Greens and Labor have just had a parting of the ways. This is the start of the story in The Australian:

GREENS Leader Christine Milne says Labor has effectively walked away from its minority government alliance with the Greens, and the minor party will operate ‘beyond the agreement’ for the remainder of the current parliament.

Yeah, sure, walked away. Under Gillard, so far as policy has been concerned, the ALP has been blended into the Greens. Gillard is in fact a Green and would have been where Milne now is had things been a bit different in 1995. If there is a difference of any significance on anything, I cannot think what it has been. Global warming, the mining industry, logging, growth, border protection, foreign policy, public spending, taxation, you name it, we have seen our first Green government in Australia. A perfect shambles but that is not the surprise. That no one has recognised who the senior partner has been is the odd part, possibly because most of the journalists who might have been asked to comment are more or less indistinguishable from the Greens themselves.

This separation of convenience in the lead up to the election is necessary for both but particularly for Labor. It must run its own race, be seen to be strong, make faces at Green policies and try to look different. Since some Labor people are actually anti-Green – mining and forestry unions, say – there needs to be a pretence made that for all practical purposes the two are not actually one and the same. It is nothing more than a strategic decision to gather in the highest number of votes for each on their own and for both together.

Of course, some parts of the ALP are so lacking in any appreciation of what just took place that they have actually tried to deny it. From the story:

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said Senator Milne was only doing a bit of product differentiation.

‘We are the ones who brought in a carbon price successfully and we are the ones who have made major breakthroughs in Tassie forests and the Murray-Darling.’

Exactly so. The ALP are the Greens. Take one, choose the other. Whichever way you go, it’s the same thing, you are picking exactly the right party to ruin this country and darken its future.

Low-information voters

A low-information is someone who fulfills at least one but possibly both the following criteria: ignorant and stupid. If you start stupid at an IQ of 95 or less, and ignorant which begins by encompassing the products of our education system but then moves on to include anyone who never reads a newspaper and gets most of their political news from the TV, then we are looking at a very large part of the voting population. It’s bad news territory for people of the right.

The post I have just been looking at has introduced me to another website called Upworthy which is designed by the American left for the low-information voter in the US, that is, for the ignorant and stupid which by no means excludes the highly educated. The title of this post is “Upworthy — or, How we are losing the internet to lowest of low information young liberals”. Here is the central para in the post but if you are interested in politics and how to affect the future, you need to read the whole thing:

There is this website called Upworthy which is one giant liberal activist social media machine which creates viral social media memes in the cause of liberal political activism.

Unless you are a direct beneficiary of all of the spoils of the socialist apparatus – a bureaucrat somewhere, a member of the “helping professions”, a welfare recipient, an educator or perhaps a journalist of some sort – the main reason anyone is actually on the left is because they are too shallow or too lazy to bother to think things out. The young are typically on the left but it is hardly because they are “idealistic”. It is because they know virtually nothing about how anything works so all they have to base their judgments on is some vague infantile notion of right and wrong. The people at Upworthy understand this perfectly well and are determined with the passage of time to turn these same young fools into middle aged fools and then into older fools after that. Some of these will drop out over time as they see and learn through life, but in the meantime, the very people whose lives are being blighted the the greatest extent by the Obamas and Gillards along with the rest of the unproductive socialist class are being conned into believing how clever and sophisticated they are when I’m afraid they are not.

The reality is: if you vote for a party of the left, you’re not cool, you’re not savvy, you’re not with it. You are a jerk. And not only do I think so, so do the people you are voting for. If you think Obama or Gillard have a high opinion of the people who vote them into office you are a product of one more delusion to go with all of the rest.

The classical theory of recession in pictures

And then from nowhere, this.

The back story is to explain why there were so many pictures of the meteorite which was because virtually every driver in Russia has a dashboard camera since the legal system is about as trustable as you might expect.

It is that the unexpected can happen in so many ways that makes being in business so chancey and the management of economies so difficult. An economic system that is built on the recognition that things will happen out of nowhere, some good most bad, is the only way to make the best of a very difficult job. Peeling the hands of governments back from their various attempts to “run” things once the rules of the road have been put in place is the best you can hope for.

Here, by the way, is a video of that meteorite:

[Via Instapundit]

When is enough enough?

I suppose the positive bit of this news is that in spite of what many women think about Tony Abbott’s views on women, they will vote for him anyway to become the next Prime Minister. That this mysogynist notion carries any weight at all is a disgrace – to the question is Tony Abbot a misogynist, 25% say “yes” with another 31% “uncommitted” – but the politics of tribalism and personal identification remains as one of the most powerful forces in modern democracies. Perhaps it was ever thus, but if so it was ever problematic.

The data show the Coalition ahead of Labor 53%-47% amongst women which seems near enough the male ratio. For me, however, those 47%, male or female, are a conundrum that passes all understanding. We have the most incompetent government in our history led by the most incompetent Prime Minister in our history and even in spite of everything, virtually half the population would be willing to return these people to government. And with the certainty that when an election is really called it will only get closer, I do not leave a close result out of the equation and even leave room for that small but by no means insignificant possibility that these people could come back again for another three years.

I wish someone would run a poll about what these Labor voters are worried about should a Coalition Government actually be elected. Are they afraid that abortion will become unavailable? That contraceptives will be banned? That the welfare state will deprive them of some of those goodies they are accustomed to? That they will actually have to work for a living and not sponge off the rest of us? That union power to wreck our livelihoods will be diminished? That entrepreneurs will make more money? That profits will rise? That the boats will stop coming? That the government will stop spending our money on unproductive activities. Just what is it? This I would like to know because nothing is obvious even when paying attention to those media types who cannot stop their anti-Abbott rants. They never make either the case against Abbott or the case for Labor. Just tribal and infantile but no substance that I can see anywhere.

And in discussing this, let me mention something I came across this the other day about the Pragmatic philosopher, Charles Sanders Pierce.

The heart of the epistemology of Pierce can be formulated as the claim that sticking to old beliefs is a man’s normal inclination [a woman’s too, I’d imagine] and that this is in fact rational. In order to learn, we update old beliefs with a certain unwillingness in the face of counterevidence, facts that we stumble upon daily. The updating process runs via hypothesis making: inference to the best explanation. What counts as the best explanation depends not only on the newly encountered facts, but just as much – or even more – on our old beliefs. Again, this is rational.

By all means stick to old beliefs until circumstances force you to re-evaluate and think things through again. But unless one has a positive death wish for our economic prosperity and the continued good fortune of this country, I cannot for the life of me see why anyone would even consider voting these people back in again.

Fixing Europe’s problems

The bow is under the waves and what will happen next will be somewhat slow motion but it is hard to see a good outcome any time soon. I’ve come across this article a couple of times but its first para really is incredible:

EU GDP drops huge. In 2012, they didn’t have a single quarter of growth.

Then this a bit deeper into the article:

The debts they have accrued are eating them alive. Their economies cannot grow fast enough to keep up. They have entered what is known as the death spiral. Because of the heavy government interference in markets, and the artificial low interest rates the EU Central bank is imposing, capital is locked. It doesn’t turn over and won’t cannot be allocated through the marketplace to more productive resources.

The answer to these problems is right there in the para but who can do it? They need to encourage private sector to grow which means public sector spending has to be cut back with a chainsaw. Regulation has to be pared to the bone and then a little more after that. Interest rates need to rise (yes, rise!). Business taxes have to fall. Governments have to show they love their entrepreneurial class.

There, fixed it. Now you just need to get someone voted in to do it and things will be back to normal by around 2016.

But let’s not be too pessimistic. A fall in GDP is not necessarily a sign of doom and devastation. Cuts to useless, wasteful public spending show up in the national accounts as exactly that, as a fall in GDP. The process of getting the structure of production right is to redirect resources into value adding activities. I don’t live there and pay not that much attention to the detail but recovery must start with less public spending while business is enticed out of the bunker after five years of an incredible battering. Recessions don’t go on forever. Recoveries do come, and often when least expected. For the moment government spending does not appear to be going up and may even have begun to fall as a proportion of total output. It will be interesting to see where things are a year from now.

You want insane, I’ll show you insane

The title is “Germany’s Green Nightmare”. It is an article that can only be described as surreal. Read it for yourself but while you do, keep the following in mind as you try to work out how we have entered the world we have entered.

New federal elections are scheduled by the end of 2013, and in view of the overwhelming popularity of ‘renewable’ ideology in the populace, all political parties that have chances to form the next government are intensely committed to continue their vigorous support for the ongoing ‘energy transition’.