The Hosue of Blair

Tim Blair links to some interesting articles in this week’s Bulletin. First up is a page on John Howard with the intriguing title “The hosue of Howard“. It’s a fearless, hard hitting complete suck up to Howard. Apparently, after a decade of power and privilege as prime minister, Howard hasn’t lost touch with the common folk. Why not? Because he owns a regular, simple house. He doesn’t live there or even in the Prime Minister’s official residence — he lives in a mansion with multi-million dollar harbour views, but just owning that house is enough to stay in touch with the little people.

Next we have Blair’s own column, where he takes a swipe at Tim Flannery:

And what of environmental activist-author Dr Tim Flannery, who believes climate change to be “the greatest threat facing humanity”, yet who is able to put aside his worries about human-driven ecological destruction long enough to conduct a 20-city US tour promoting his latest book about climate change?

I used a calculator linked from Flannery’s site and found that Flannery’s tour would release about 6,000 kg of CO2. Flannery says that we’ll have to reduce our emissions of CO2 by about 70% to stabilize the climate. That’s 17,000,000,000,000 kg less CO2 per year. This is somewhat more than 6,000, so if Flannery did not go on the trip it would not solve the global warming problem. If Flannery on his tour is able to persuade a few people to reduce their emissions the reduction will be much more than 6,000 kg.

And I wonder if Blair ran this next passage past The Bulletin‘s lawyers, because Blair sure seems to be implying that Flannery is lying:

Just for fun, let’s hook Flannery up to a polygraph and test the extent of his belief that climate change is indeed “the greatest threat facing humanity”, among other enviro-questions.

Could be expensive for The Bulletin.

But that’s not what I wanted to blog about. No, I want to discuss a piece of voodoo criminology by David Frum. Jonathan Dursi took a meat axe to a previous clueless article on crime by Frum, but this one is, if anything, worse. Frum argues that Australia should reintroduce the death penalty:

Between 1995 and 2005, the number of murders in the United States dropped from nearly 25,000 a year to under 15,000. An American was less likely to be murdered in 2005 than in 1960. And the total rate of criminal victimization tumbled to its lowest level since records began in 1974.

It would be rash to credit the death penalty alone for this triumph. But it would equally be wrong to deny capital punishment its share of the credit.

Frum doesn’t mention that not all states in the US have the death penalty and the ones without the death penalty also experienced large reductions in crime rates. Presumably it would be wrong to deny capital punishment its share of the credit for the reduction in those states.

Frum continues:

It is striking that Britain has imported many of the best US crime-fighting methods (but not the death penalty), only to see its rates of crime and violence continue to deteriorate.

Actually, what is striking is the fact that crime and violent crime in Britain peaked in the early 90s and has since plummeted, just like in the US. It would be wrong to deny capital punishment in the US its share of the credit for the reduction in crime in Britain.

So does Australia need the death penalty? Clearly not. It is, by Frummian logic enough for the US to have the death penalty and then crime will fall here. Wait, it has been falling! Sweet.

Update: After three days, The Bulletin finally noticed that “house” was misspelled on nine different pages and corrected it. Well done!

Comments

  1. #1 euan
    March 1, 2006

    “Hosue”??

  2. #2 Alastair
    March 1, 2006

    Coincidentally, the Divine Miranda is also taking a swipe at Tim Flannery, this time claiming conflict of interest. Or something. This was published in the Smage, and AFAICT contains nothing that hasn’t already been refuted a dozen times both here and elsewhere.

    However it is mildly amusing that Blair claimed in his article that “Saturday editions of The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourneďż˝s The Age routinely feature environmental alarmism in their news sections”. Interesting bit of cherrypicking, that. I suppose Devine’s column wasn’t published in the news section, or perhaps not in the Saturday edition.

  3. #3 z
    March 1, 2006

    No it’s true; when circumstances required my move from Massachusetts, with no death penalty, to Connecticut, with a death penalty, I had to shelve all my plans for murder, as it would be just too time consuming to drive all the way back to Massachusetts just to commit a murder. So you see, it is an effective deterrent.

  4. #4 Robert McClelland
    March 1, 2006

    The crime rate has similarly fallen in Canada too. Wow, that is one powerful deterant. Maybe if the US just goes ahead and executes all its criminals, even the ones who commit minor offences, the crime rate will plummet to zero in our nations.

  5. #5 Bill O'Slatter
    March 1, 2006

    Here’s another error
    “When John Howard steps out each dawn on his ritual power walk, it is as if half Australia sighs contentedly, satisfied that all is right with the world, while the other half wakes in fright and fury ….”
    In what must be regarded as objective research Wilson and Meagher
    http://www.australianreview.net/digest/2006/02/meagher_wilson.html
    stated that the Howard Government has failed to make Australians more conservative, and that the weakness of Labor accounts for much of the Howard Government’s electoral success. Voter loyalty to the Labor Party has plunged. Voters identifying as Labor supporters dropped from 49 per cent in 1987 to just 32 per cent in 2004.

    So it is at most one third who see the lying spinmeister for what he is , ans Blair merely follows the leader and doesn’t confuse any argument with facts.

  6. #6 Johnno
    March 1, 2006

    Actually I’m also bemused by the amount of air travel taken by green evangelists. It seems high priests can call on others to make sacrifices, just not themselves. A lot of little transgressions add up, hence the notion ‘think global, act local’.

  7. #7 David Heidelberg
    March 1, 2006
  8. #8 Bill O'Slatter
    March 1, 2006

    Update to the analysis of the lying spinmeister is this brilliant analysis of his various strategies .
    http://www.australianreview.net/digest/2006/02/tiffen.html

  9. #9 Ian Gould
    March 2, 2006

    >the weakness of Labor accounts for much of the Howard Government’s electoral success.

    And luck – such as winning re-election in 1998 with under 49% of the vote and going to an election in 2001 in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 – played a significant part too.

  10. #10 Ian Gould
    March 2, 2006

    >Actually I’m also bemused by the amount of air travel taken by green evangelists. It seems high priests can call on others to make sacrifices, just not themselves. A lot of little transgressions add up, hence the notion ‘think global, act local’.

    It’s a fair cop – a few years bak I attended a dinner at the annual conference of the Australia & New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics. The restaurant served shark’s fin soup – and out of 100-odd guests I think i was the only person who sent it back.

    Conversely though, maybe Flannery et al pay for tree plantings to offset their emissions?

  11. #11 Barry
    March 2, 2006

    Johnno, that was already covered previously, and would be obvious to anybody with common sense.

  12. #12 Steve Munn
    March 2, 2006

    I read Tim Flannery’s book “The Weather Makers” and I did not one appalling clanger. He accuses Fred Singer of being a member of the Moonies. I e-mailed Singer and he replied saying: “Certainly not! But it beats being called a “tool of the oil industry” — equally untrue.”

    I liked Flannery’s book and it is a great pity that the claim he made about Singer could now be used against him to make him look silly.

    And yes, I do know that the Moonies have funded Prof Singer’s SEPP along with other right wing outfits.

  13. #13 snuh
    March 6, 2006

    Between 1995 and 2005, the number of murders in the United States dropped from nearly 25,000 a year to under 15,000. An American was less likely to be murdered in 2005 than in 1960.

    on it’s own terms [i.e., absent refutation by corresponding drops in crime in non-death penalty nations] this argument makes no sense. in each of 1995, 1960 and 2005 there were executions in the united states. in each of these years it was possible in some states to be executed for murder, and rather more possible in 1960 than in 2005 [and yet, oddly, the murder rate is lower now].

    the death penalty in the US was effectively nullified by the supreme court in 1972 [prior to which no executions had actually occured since 1967] and reinstated in 1976 [which fact, incidentally, frum gets wrong by saying it was 1974], and yet murder rates in these years are nowhere mentioned. strange.

  14. #14 Jack Strocchi
    March 9, 2006

    Frum doesn’t mention that not all states in the US have the death penalty and the ones without the death penalty also experienced large reductions in crime rates.

    Surely capital punishment, if it is a deterrent at all, is a deterrent against capital crimes (murder, terrorism etc) rather than crimes per se. What was the state-by-state functional relationship between an active capital punishment and the capital crime rate.

    I am inclined to think that the death penalty does deter some murderers. But so would improved policing, sterner juries and mandatory life sentences. Capital punishment is simply cheaper which is why it appeals to cost-conscious state officials.

    NB I oppose the death penalty, since it causes what it is meant to curtail: premeditated death. But I support stronger, tougher and more expensive forms of police and correctional systems, including invasive forms of punishment and control, to deter and defeat life-threatening criminals.

  15. #15 sean morris
    March 31, 2006

    I am going to sue you buggers if the climate does not get much warmer soon, we have had our coldest winter for 10 years and I have only seen the sun 4 times since November 1st.

    My parents home on the coast in Formby, Merseyside was flooded 3 times in high tides in my childhood, since 1991 it has not been flooded once, and if you ask me the tide is going further and further out, so wheres the melting ice hearlding the start of sunnier times.

    Yours hopefully

    sean. Sheffield. UK

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