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Angry Activists, Aggressive Policy

Climate change demands untold action...
 
A DEAR READER, Steve S., writes to us, says Bill Bonner in his Diary of a Rogue Economist:
"I read all of Bill's blogs. Obviously they are sarcastic and generally negative. Usually criticizing and pointing fingers. But I don't ever see the positive aspects.
 
"What exactly does Bill want? How would he fix the problems? What does Bill actually stand for?"
We're glad you asked, Steve.
 
We stand for nothing.
 
We only know what we like. Truth, rather than lies. Beauty, rather than ugliness. And freedom over slavery.
 
Even as to that, it is not so much that we care about "freedom"; we just don't like anyone telling us what to do.
 
And why should they? We know what we want better than they do.
 
Of course, we do not claim to know everything.
 
We admit, in fact, that we know very little.
 
We can take a fair guess about tomorrow's temperature...but as for 10 years from now, we know no more than the climatologists.
 
But man must have some way of guiding his actions. He makes his guesses...he puts 2 and 2 together...and he turns to the lessons learned over centuries:
 
Don't spend more than you can afford. Don't invade Russia. And if you find yourself in a spooky house, don't go down into the basement.
 
If we are "generally negative", it is because we are commenting on public policy...which is almost always an elaborate fraud, backed by brute force.
 
Wars...central planning...world improvement – can you give us one example of a large public policy that wasn't a scam, a waste of money, or a major screw-up?
 
The only ones that are even borderline worthwhile are those where we were fighting someone else's even worse public policy...
 
...such as World War II.
 
In the early 1940s, America mobilized in what was the biggest public policy move in US history.
 
Automobiles stopped rolling from the assembly lines; tanks took their place. Sixteen million men and women joined the armed forces. US debt soared.
 
It was probably wasteful and foolish in many respects, but under the circumstances, almost everyone agreed that it was the right thing to do.
 
But the World War II global catastrophe wasn't caused by the US, or by greedy corporations...or old white men...or by a lack of diversity on school boards...or by a virus or changing weather patterns.
 
As German Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt explained, it wasn't caused by "hate" either. It was caused by public policies initiated by politicians and administered by bureaucrats.
 
Could the problem be fixed? Probably not. People do jackass things from time to time...and think they're making improvements.
 
In the 1930s, Germany thought it could enhance its "Lebensraum". Japan wanted to increase its "co-prosperity sphere". Both looked to win by making weaker neighbors lose.
 
Adolf Hitler even drew a comparison with American pioneers, who took land from native tribes in order to develop their own Lebensraum, from sea to shining sea.
 
The world would be a better place, he argued, if Germans were able to more efficiently exploit the "under-used" lands to the East.
 
And who could say he was wrong?
 
The invaders might have treated the Poles well. They might have brought tractors and increased productivity and wages. They might have actually made the Steppes bloom and hearts glad.
 
In the evening, people walk their dogs in the park in front of our office. The dogs do what dogs do after being trapped in an apartment all day. And their owners bend over and pick up the canine excrement and put it in the trash.
 
There is a law that insists on it. But the law is almost never enforced. Still, people clean up after their pets because they recognize that it's the right thing to do...and they don't want to be seen not doing it by their neighbors.
 
Which leads us to another old lesson: Anything you have to force people to do is probably not worth doing.
 
In private policy, people normally respect the rules of civilized life. If they want land in Poland, for example, they have to buy it lawfully. No force required.
 
But in public policy, the sky's the limit...nothing is too barbaric or too preposterous. As we've seen, governments, in pursuit of public policy goals, will stop at nothing – neither murder, mass starvation, nor genocide.
 
Which brings us back to Saint Greta, the climate change activist.
 
She wants action. Not "blah, blah." She's angry...frustrated.
 
And the kind of action she wants is Big Time public policy action.
 
That is, she is not satisfied with reducing her own carbon footprint and persuading others to do the same. She wants to force other people to do things they don't want to do – on a scale not seen since World War II.
 
As John Kerry – America's special presidential envoy to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) – put it last week, the price tag will be trillions, not billions.
 
And we're talking about major changes – to the way we heat our homes, to the way we drive to work, and to the way we power our factories (if we have any left).
 
One climate change enthusiast, Louise Crabtree-Hayes, even suggested that we might have to outlaw private homes to meet the "emergency".
 
The cost – in money and inconvenience – will be huge. But it could be far worse...
 
In 1850, the pre-industrial economy supported only 1.2 billion people. Today, we have 7.8 billion people, almost all of whom depend on oil, gas, or coal.
 
Imagine the "supply chain disruptions" that could result from cutting off supplies of fuel.
 
And what is the truth of an "emergency" like the attack on Pearl Harbor? Do we tighten our belts, stiffen our backbones, and accept the sacrifices that will be required of us? Or is the whole thing a false alarm...or a scam?
 
If only we could read tomorrow's headlines today!
 
All we know is that billions of people have been borne up out of poverty by nature's stored-up energy. They've been able to live longer, more comfortable lives – with out-of-season fruits and vegetables, air-conditioning, and solar rooftop panels.
 
Meanwhile, the death toll from public policies in the 20th century – wars, government-caused starvation, concentration camps and the Gulag – was estimated by self-described atrocitologist Matthew White at 203 million, including 37 million soldiers, 27 million civilians killed as collateral damage, 81 million killed in purges and mass murders, and 58 million who were intentionally starved to death.
 
Saint Greta proposes more aggressive government action. But on this rudimentary evidence, the human race might be better off limiting public policies, rather than limiting the use of fossil fuel.

Bill Bonner has co-authored a number of New York Times Bestsellers including Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Markets and Messiahs. In his own opinion, Bill's most recent title, A Modest Theory of Civilization: Win-Win or Lose, is his best work yet. Bill also founded The Agora, a worldwide community for private researchers and publishers, in 1979. Financial analysts within the group have exposed and predicted some of the world's biggest shifts since that time, starting with the fall of the Soviet Union back in the late 1980s, to the collapse of the Dot Com (2000) and then mortgage finance (2008) bubbles, and more recently the election of President Trump.

See full archive of Bill Bonner articles

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