https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ffansoffreelancer%2Fphotos%2Fa.10150111355746512.278048.353386506511%2F10154854686586512%2F%3Ftype%3D3&width=300 Or, “world is not as I like it shocker; villain must be found!”. Again; sigh.
[Note: the link above is a mangled version of an iframe. WP auto-mangles it “for security reasons”. See the stoat archive if you want the original.]
In this case the normally sensible Graham Readfearn in the Graun has picked up the unfortunately not very sensible Nancy MacLean‘s “Democracy in chains”2 and run with it. GR is sad about cynicism about the motives of public servants, including government-backed climate scientists and so is attracted to “reasons” why this might be so; and of course he like all right-thinking people hates the very word “Koch”; the combination is irresistible.
If you read GR’s article is is fairly clear that he isn’t familiar with what he’s talking about; he says frankly at one point In an interview at the Brisbane writers festival, MacLean told me… and it looks like much of the “information” is just parrotting MacLean. If you’re actually interested in the history of Mont Pelerin, then you’re better off reading The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression; or in the rather-more-likely event of you not feeling up to it, just my report on it. If you’re interested in public choice theory then you’re better off reading the Wiki article than the caricature in GR’s article. OTOH, if you don’t like Libertarians or their ilk but do like having your prejudices confirmed, by all means stick with the Graun.
What “public choice theory” actually does is recommend considering politicians (and other “public servants”) as human beings like any others, rather than as idealised nobility. To some this is anathema; as GR’s article quotes, Prof Steven Kelman, at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy school of government, wrote that Buchanan’s view was a “terrible caricature of reality” and belied the public spirit of elected representatives and government officials. This is akin to the level of discourse in the UK, where nurses are always “angels”1.
So all of GR’s point boils down to Suggesting that climate scientists are pushing a line about global warming because their salaries depend on it is a popular talking point that deniers love to throw around… But to suggest global warming exists only because climate scientists need the money, you need to ignore… [all the obvious things]. But (just like NMcL’s duff book) GR has failed to make the connections. There’s no connection made between PCT and denialism. The logical level is “PCT would tend to suggest X, denialists say X, therefore denialists are led by PCT”. This is simplistic to the point of silliness. Denialists aren’t sophisticated enough to be led by PCT; but they do possess the very minimal level of intelligence required to copy someone else’s obvious idea that it might be possible to smear scientists motives.
This is Exxon type thinking all over again. “Our problems are caused by super-villains” type stuff. They aren’t. They are caused by a whole complicated interlocking problems amongst which ranks highly the self-interest of the vast bulk of the populace; and our broken political systems. And PCT points towards the underlying problems with said broken political systems; and we won’t fix them by denying it.
1. Until they get convicted, at which point they become “angels of death” :-). This is not to say that public officials are never motivated by a spirit of service. Many are. But many are not; and treating the entire system as though it was composed of those who are so motivated is an error.
2. I wasn’t intending to argue about the book here unless you want to. I do need to point out that The book documents how wealthy conservatives… with the objective, MacLean says, of undermining the functions of government in the United States is a fundamental error. MacLean’s enemies3 certainly want to organise things differently to her; but are more nearly constitutionalists. It isn’t clear to me if NMcL is just using the std.propaganda technique of lying about her enemies, or simply doesn’t understand them. If you want the rebuttals to the book, the obvious source I know of is Don Boudreaux.
3. As in, “people she regards as her enemy”.
* The World Turned Upside Down (and what to do about it)
* Win for Climate Science and the AAUP: Today the Arizona Court of Appeals rejected attempts by a “free market” legal foundation to use public records requests to compel faculty members to release emails related to their climate research.
* The left has a problem with public choice economics.