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Monday, December 28, 2009

Subjective Warming

Let's say that scientists determined with certainty that pistachio is the best flavor for ice cream. Pistachio ice cream lovers everywhere would no doubt scream, "I told you so!" and many people might switch to eating only pistachio ice cream. Those of us who dislike pistachio ice might be a little skeptical of the settled science, but we probably wouldn't much care and would continue to enjoy other flavors. The pistachio ice cream lovers might then call us skeptics or deniers and look down on us from their moral high ground.

None of this would much matter, unless pistachio ice cream lovers and scientists latched onto politicians (or vice-versa) to have the government ban (or at least tax and regulate) all flavors of ice cream other than pistachio. This clearly crosses an important line since one group is now limiting the subjective choices and opportunities of the second group. Yet nobody was ever stopping anyone from eating pistachio ice cream.

Now substitute "something should be done about global warming" for "pistachio is the best flavor for ice cream". The substitution, while having elements of absurdity, works surprisingly well.

Even if one accepts that global warming is happening with certainty, and even if one accepts that the scientific consensus is that something should be done about it, once that group forces its subjective preference for doing something on the rest of us, a very serious line is crossed.

It's the line of oppression and totalitarianism.


erp said...

Pistachio ice cream with tons of hot fudge is tops on the chart of earthly pleasures, but I get your point.

Bret said...

And your welcome to it, as long as I can have my chocolate ice cream.

Harry Eagar said...

Come on, I am the original denialist, but oppression and tyranny?

By that standard, doing anything about anything becomes oppression and tyranny. Building a dam, f'instance.

I am reminded of Talleyrand: 'It is worse than a crime, it is a mistake.'

So was repealing Glass-Steagall.

David said...

I'm with Harry (other than on the Glass-Steagall nonsense). Democratic government implies that, within limits not relevant here, the majority gets to do what it likes, which opens up the possibility that lots of people get to be unhappy.

And if AGW were really threatening imminent disaster, we really wouldn't have much choice but to try to use draconian regulation to avoid it.

Bret said...

The problem is that the definition of disaster is subjective. Is a reduction in polar bear population disaster? How about the extinction of dozens of species of slime mold? The displacement next century of some of the population of Bangladesh?

Many people consider the above disasters. I do not.

Does the majority really get to decide? Why can't the majority just reduce their carbon footprint and donate their own money? Why do they have the right to force those that view the definition of disaster differently to fund their pet project?

People now claim that 300,000 people per year are already dying from climate change. What if I don't believe those numbers?

If I'm forced to live my life according to other's beliefs, it's tyranny.

erp said...

Bret, the problem is the majority isn't deciding. It's a small demented minority of tree huggers and other moonbats who think they know what's best for the rest of us and won't get any better until we all remember that we're a free people -- not a bunch of scared rabbits.

BTW - Happy New Year from sunny Florida.

Harry Eagar said...

Bret, I have to subsidize churches by giving them tax exemptions.

Suck it up. It's a democracy. People agree to do stupid things.

Do you know you are still paying for a 2-inch oil pipeline from the Upper Midwest though Canada to Alaska? It cost as much as the Manhattan Project.

(That is not a typo. Two, count 'em, 2, inch diameter oil pipeline.)

Hey Skipper said...

Do you know you are still paying for a 2-inch oil pipeline from the Upper Midwest though Canada to Alaska?

I don't know about inches, but I do know this: the pipeline is to be for natural gas, not oil.

David said...

Good and constitutional are not synonyms. The majority is allowed to do dumb things that really bug us.

erp said...

True enough, but it's particularly galling when it's a small minority that's doing it.

Bret said...

Oppressive and constitutional are not mutually exclusive. Neither are tyrannical and constitutional.

Yes, the majority can do anything it wants. Truly anything, since the constitution is amendable.

So being constitutional is no guarantee that something isn't oppressive and tyrannical.

Taking away substantial opportunity from people is oppressive whether or not constitutional, and whether or not necessary to avoid "disaster".

David said...

Exactly. No deus ex machina is going to step in and stop us from being foolish self-governors. The only route open to us is to win the argument about why certain policies are foolish and why certain areas of life, those having to do with personal preference, should be beyond regulation.

The problem with the welfare state is that, for example, once we're paying for everyone's health care, then we have an interest, and a say, in how they live their life. No ice cream for anyone, it costs too much to scrape the fat out of their arteries.

Harry Eagar said...

Skipper, not the new pipeline, the one built during World War II.

The remains of it and the machinery used to build it are still scattered across the prairie provinces. it cost 2 billion 1944 dollars.

It's one of the more amazing stories of military incompetence I have ever encountered, which is saying something. Innovations in Science & Technology magazine did a photo feature on it a few years ago.

David, you're so right about the welfare state, but how is that different from the moralizing state under which we have lived most of our history until recently? I have been given a copy of Ian Buruma's 'Taming the Gods' which I think you will find very interesting on this point. However, the publication date is not till March and I am not sure I can say much about it yet.

David said...

Harry: The difference between moralizing and law is that you can thumb your nose at the moralizers.

Harry Eagar said...

Actually, you can't. Or, you can, but only if the moralizers are in a majority.

I grew up where they were in the majority, and it took a lot of gumption -- and an independent income stream -- to stand up against them.

Harry Eagar said...

First 'majority' should be 'minority.'

erp said...

Harry, I assume those moralists of whom you speak are Christian evangelists who may have had some influence at one time in a limited area of the south.

The minority of moralists I'm talking about are the Kool-Aid drinking far left whose lunatic ideas are sending us into financial disaster.

Few in the non-blog-reading majority know anything about this. If it was spelled out for them, the moonbats would be out-of-business pronto.