Or, The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government3. From Tacitus, Annals.

I wanted to say something about the Trump victory over Hillary2. I find that writing down what I actually want to say is difficult, because my thoughts are not entirely clear on the matter. But – searching for a latin proverb about the weather, since today’s Fours Head looks to be rather damp1 – I ran across this, which whilst not covering in breadth everything that needs to be said, does I think have depth.

Coming soon: what Hayek and Hobbes have to say on Brexit, and funny quotes from the Times.

Notes

1. I didn’t make the crew, tee hee. But best wishes to Stephen, Conor, Simon L, Dan; and Mr T.

2. In case there should be ambiguity, if I’d had a vote I would have held my nose and voted for Hillary.

3. Or, in the Penguin edition translated by Michael Grant that I’m now reading, “Corruption reached its climax, and legislation abounded.” Which does to some extent reverse the sense: corruption has caused law, rather than law, corruption.

Refs

* Only in America… because there is – would you believe it? – a Dem Governor called Chickenlooper! Actually you shouldn’t believe it, I added a letter, but the principle remains.
* Timmy offers wise advice about what to do if you fear Donald Trump running global surveillance network
* Timmy, under the heading “India’s Demonetisation – Larry Summers Thinks It’s A Bad Idea”, points out why a certain amount of black-market money is good, but not too much.
* It’s Straight Bananas That Made Me Support Brexit Too – Timmy
* Vox: Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed 2016 Campaign. Ignore the infighting bit, read the “what was her message, what was her vision?” bit.

Comments

  1. #1 Hank Roberts
    head in sand, body at beach
    2016/11/12

    Well, is there any form of government that doesn’t end badly?
    Pointer welcome.

    [You have perhaps missed my point. Which, admittedly, I didn’t make clearly. But if you have, so will many others, so I’ll expound a little more clearly:

    Hillary is the side of more government, more regulation, more rules. Trump is the side of less. This is a crude over-generalisation of course, but failure to abstract is a failure. Whilst many of Trump’s “positive” policies are stupid, his apparent dislike for burdensome regulation will be welcome to many (so, even within that small space, notice that while his first point is sensible his second one is stupid). I see nothing similar from Hillary; her solution to any problem is always and automatically more regulation.

    And this meshes with the “tired old establishment” (Hillary) versus “outsider / insurgent” (Trump) no matter how absurd it may seem for a billionaire to be cast in such a role. Hillary is the archetype of present-day government; Trump, perhaps, if I were to continue the analogy, would be the archetype of present-day business (I don’t actually believe that latter).

    To conclude with my own opinion, which I began hesitantly to expound elsewhere under the guise of Hayek: we have far far too much regulation -W]

  2. #2 Hank Roberts
    meanwhile
    2016/11/12

    We may be about to see if gutting the Environmental Protection Agency makes the US government less corrupt.

    What would you think will happen, any prediction?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/science/myron-ebell-trump-epa.html

    [Ter be ‘onest guv I know little about him. He is Obviously an Evil Arch Ultra Villain because everyone tells me so, but I find I’ve read lots about him but very little by him. Perhaps I should remedy that? It might be entertaining. Judging by the piece you link he has a sense of humour, which is welcome -W]

  3. #3 Hank Roberts
    2016/11/12

    I think you’ll find his science amusing.
    And his philosophy teacher’s as well: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/oakeshott/

  4. #4 Hank Roberts
    2016/11/12

    Also perhaps timely:

    http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/EHP358/
    “Based on the available scientific evidence, the TENDR authors have identified prime examples of toxic chemicals and pollutants that increase children’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders. These include chemicals that are used extensively in consumer products and that have become widespread in the environment…. we assert that the current system in the United States for evaluating scientific evidence and making health-based decisions about environmental chemicals is fundamentally broken. To help reduce the unacceptably high prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders in our children, we must eliminate or significantly reduce exposures to chemicals that contribute to these conditions….”

  5. #5 Ned
    2016/11/12

    > Hickenlooper

    Yeah, OK. And during the 1990s two of the Republican leaders in Congress were “Doolittle” and “DeLay”

    But people who live in glass houses and all that…

    Derek Honeybun
    Lulu Popplewell
    Nimmy March
    Anne Trickelbank
    Prunella Scales
    Arthur Nightingale
    Joan Dainty
    Royston Munt
    Laurence Luckinbill
    Felix Pickles
    Pip Torrens
    Fionnula Tambling-Goggin
    Mervyn Pinfield
    Vincent Brimble
    etc etc etc

    All allegedly from BBC credits

  6. […] has been drawn to my attention that Myron Ebell will be Mr. Trump’s lead agent in choosing personnel and setting the direction […]

  7. #7 Ned
    2016/11/12

    Lots of amusing ones here, too:

    http://www.anglotopia.net/ultimate-list-of-funny-british-place-names/

    Not far from me there’s a body of water named Ticklenaked Pond. I think it derives from an Abenaki word like “teckenecket”.

  8. #8 Mal Adapted
    2016/11/13

    Travel writer Paul Theroux, upon hearing an Englishwoman gleefully exclaim “They are funny, the Yanks!”, wrote of the Brits:

    They wallpaper their ceilings! They put little knitted bobble hats on their soft-boiled eggs to keep them warm!…They love candy and Lucozade and leftovers called bubble-and-squeak! They live in Barking and Dorking and Shellow Bowells! They have amazing names, like Mr. Eatwell and Lady Inkpen and Major Twaddle and Miss Tosh! And they think we’re funny?

    Only in England… ;^)

  9. #9 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk, again
    2016/11/13

    While I can’t hand you a cite offhand, I’ll be looking for what I remember from a couple of decades ago — the observation by a big-law partner that the proliferation of regulations is caused not by the original law and regulation but by the work of lawyers and lobbyists who take the final rule and nitpick to claim loopholes that work for a while, until the rule is amended. “All the great fortunes are made in ways that eventually are made illegal” was his summary.

    [All law and all regulation will inevitably have loopholes. It is the foolishness of our times – well, foolishness is not the word – to imagine that piling yet more words on top of words will somehow close the loopholes. The error is to try to solve all problems by yet more regulation. I asserted that this is Hillary’s solution to all problems; I noticed you haven’t quibbled with that. But nor have you accepted the obvious: that many people hate this situation and the people that foster it; like she does.

    The other obvious point is that regulation favours large companies, which are better able to deal with its burdens, over small ones -W]

    The interests that have a competitive advantage from loopholes cut to fit are not going to eagerly see the removal of those barriers to competitors.

    E.g.: https://www.google.com/search?q=law+regulation+loophole+proliferation+lobbying

    E.g.: http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreilly/2016/10/06/if-donald-trump-exploited-supreme-court-approved-loophole-what-does-it-mean/

    Don’t assume my points of view fall within the usual 3-D liberal-conservative, strong-weak, libertarian-authoritarian space that are used to define most political positions.

    “Individual thinkers since the days of Ezekiel and Isaiah have asserted that the despoliation of land is not only inexpedient but wrong. Society, however, has not yet affirmed their belief. I regard the present conservation movement as the embryo of such an affirmation. An ethic may be regarded as a mode of guidance for meeting ecological situations so new or intricate, or involving such deferred reactions, that the path of social expediency is not discernible to the average individual.”
    — Aldo Leopold, 1949

    “We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.”
    — Donald Trump, 2016

    “Biologically rational decisions may not be politically possible once investment has occurred.”
    — Elizabeth Skewgar, P. Dee Boersma, Graham Harris, Guillermo Caille
    Science 05 Jan 2007: Vol. 315, Issue 5808, pp. 45
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1135767

  10. #10 Hank Roberts
    2016/11/13

    P.S.:
    http://e360.yale.edu/feature/insect_numbers_declining_why_it_matters/3012/
    06 Jul 2016
    Insect populations are declining dramatically in many parts of the world

    “If one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of creation, it would appear that God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles.”
    — J._B._S._Haldane

    Ecopoiesis — we’re doing it wrong.

    [Yes. But I think you’ll find it hard to persuade the “skeptics” of this, so much so that it isn’t even worth trying. or will be “common folk” find it persuasive -W]

  11. #11 Hank Roberts
    2016/11/13

    > The error is to try to solve all problems by yet more regulation.

    Oh, I agree. Examine each question.
    It’s an error to try to solve all problems. Period.

    “… simply this: quit thinking about decent land-use as solely an economic problem.
    Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as
    what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity,
    stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

    “It of course goes without saying that economic feasibility limits the tether of what can or cannot be done for land. It always has and it always will. The fallacy the economic determinists have tied around our collective neck, and which we now need to cast off, is the belief that economics determines all land use. This is simply not true….”

    — Aldo Leopold, 1949

    [The “constitutionalists” will not accept you making law on the basis of what is aesthetically right. You are determined on that; they are determined on property rights. I don’t see either side coming to any intellectual agreement, so you’re left fighting it out, and right now you’ve lost -W]

  12. #12 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk, again
    2016/11/13

    > aesthetically right

    And there you have it.
    Ecology viewed as decoration rather than foundation.

    [It was your word, not mine -W]

  13. #13 David B. Benson
    United States
    2016/11/14

    I pump for Hank Roberts. I have no truck with the sociopaths who run corporations.

  14. #14 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk, again
    2016/11/14

    ‘esthetically’ is one word out of context from the bit I quoted from and linked above, with the hope as always that those who don’t already know the work would read more than the little bit I quote.

    [I used the word in context -W]

    I’m sure you express Trump’s view there, by focusing on that one word.

    [There is no reason to be rude, I think -W]

    Try this — I’ll give you a bit of a quote in hopes you read the page and perhaps the article and maybe even this issue of the journal. It’s a critique of the current endangered species regulation, not from the “wise use it up now” and “drill and burn it all” side but from the side of thinking scientists who appreciate complexity and understand that we can’t “leave a little bit” of the natural world and still live here ourselves, as we grow on that foundation.

    http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol18/iss1/art12/
    ====quote====

    In all of these cases, the act has been used by legal advocates to gain political power and push other agendas such as the ultimate goals of removal of dams in western rivers, or well-meaning, but misguided, notions of biodiversity conservation (such that no intervention is the best thing for conservation). While political power and politics are ingredients in the debate about ESA and adaptive management, at the heart of the debate is a fundamental disagreement about how to manage uncertainty.

    How to resolve uncertainty is one of the key barriers between the ESA and adaptive management. Adaptive management suggests that effects of federal actions cannot be totally understood or predicted before the fact (Walters 1986). In other words, the impacts of a dam on humpback chub populations (Coggins et al. 2006) or the cutting of old growth forests on spotted owls cannot be predicted with any precision. Yet, when the ESA is invoked, the uncertainty about actions and effects usually ends up in a court of law or administrative hearing with an end result of scientists seeking spurious certitude rather than testing the effects in the field. …
    ===== end quote=====

    Sounds like climate science, doesn’t it?

    [Why have you changed the subject? The point was, you wanted to make decisions based on what is aesthetically or morally right. Your “opponents” want to make decisions based on the law. You are, naturally, sure that you are right. They, too, are equally sure that they are right. How are yo going to go about convincing them that you are correct? Will you, perhaps, try listening to some of their arguments in return? -W]

  15. #15 Hank Roberts
    head in sand, body at beach
    2016/11/15

    > aesthetically or morally right

    You remembered it wrong.

    Look at it again, read the whole sentence and the one after:

    “Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity,
    stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

    Those words are defined in the 1949 Land Ethic piece — from which that bit was taken.

    I’d like to see the regulations move toward adaptive management —decisions based on actual results, “testing the effects in the field” — rather than policy based on law that’s based on political theories about what must be right.

    No, I don’t have any particular hope that 1949 piece will even be read let alone understood by political thinkers.

    I doubt there’s anyone trained in ecology who hasn’t read and understood that piece and many subsequent that cite it.

    It’s a gap in understanding, that lets the dark in.

    In other news about possible new regulations:

    http://en.rfi.fr/france/20161114-sarkozy-proposes-carbon-tax-us-goods-if-trump-scraps-paris-climate-pact

  16. #16 Robert Parson
    2016/11/16

    Two words, William: Montreal Protocol. The ozone hole is finally shrinking, and this is entirely due to top-down regulations negotiated in 1989.

    [Yes, indeed. I agree. But by saying that I think you miss the point. I’m not saying that all regulation is bad -W]

  17. #17 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk, again
    2016/11/16

    Yep.

    But how do you distinguish bad from good? I’ve suggested:

    “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity,
    stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

    Counter-example, please, if you have one.

    [Are you talking about regulation, in general? If so, I think your test is too narrow, and too hard to apply. Consider the many states that have regulations concerning the requirement for a license to bead hair (http://learn.org/articles/How_Can_I_Get_a_Hair_Braiding_License.html). How would you apply your proposed test to such regulations? -W]

  18. #18 Russell the Stout
    In the briar patch
    2016/11/16

    As clever people leverage the possibility of technology into new products and services, complexity increases. This is seen as progress via free markets.
    As complexity increases, some people say that regulation must be decreased; it’s too complicated; it leads to corruption.
    What is wrong with that belief?

    [I’m not sure that the increase in regulation has a great deal to do with complexity. Witness hair-braiding, or banana curvature -W]

  19. #19 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk, again
    2016/11/16

    “Eleven states, including Arizona, California, Kansas, and Mississippi, specifically exclude hair braiders from licensing rules. Seven states, including Colorado, Iowa, and Oregon, require hair braiders to obtain a cosmetology license, which requires roughly 1,000 hours of education. There are 22 states that do not have specific laws on the book about hair braiding, and ten that have specialty licenses for hair braiders.”
    http://www.beautyschoolsdirectory.com/faq/ethnic-hair-braider#license-requirements

    No biodiversity implication, assuming no problem spreading lice or MRSA or the like — which you’d have to look into. Assuming that’s not an issue, it’d be down to economic expediency.

    US states vary. How about the UK/EU?

    Counterpoint, regulation of TENORM.
    https://www.epa.gov/radiation/tenorm-oil-and-gas-production-wastes

    Worthwhile?

    [Not easy to say from a quick skim, but probably not. I’d say there should not be specific regulations for this situation / industry; rather, there should be more general regulations on the production of radioactive materials -W]

  20. #20 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk, again
    2016/11/16
  21. #21 Vinny Burgoo
    2016/11/16

    ‘US states vary. How about the UK/EU?’

    Here’s the fourth chamber of the EU court agreeing with French law that French citizens shouldn’t operate as hairdressers in France without the relevant French hairdressing qualification (le brevet professionnel de coiffure) on the grounds that the relevant EU directive on hairdressing (Council Directive 82/489/EEC of 19 July 1982 laying down measures to facilitate the effective exercise of the right of establishment and freedom to provide services in hairdressing*) doesn’t preclude EU citizens operating as hairdressers in France without the relevant French hairdressing qualification but that the French citizens in question had not operated as hairdressers elsewhere in the EU for long enough to get past French law:

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A61994CJ0029

    Or something like that, anyway. It’s a long read.

    ===

    *Part of the preamble:

    Whereas, pending such coordination, it is nonetheless desirable and possible to facilitate the mobility of hairdressers within the Community, by recognizing as sufficient qualification for taking up the activities in question in host Member States which have rules governing the taking up of such activities, the fact that the activity has been pursued in a self-employed capacity or as manager of an undertaking in the Member State whence the foreign national comes for a reasonable and sufficiently recent period of time to ensure that the person concerned possesses professional knowledge equivalent to that required in the host Member State;

    It’s a minefield, EU hairdressing law. If you mow your own hair at home with one of those clippers, it’s prolly best that you close the curtains before you start. But do it in stages. Nothing too obvious. Perhaps close them a fifth at a time over several hours. Just to be safe.

  22. #22 Willard
    2016/11/17

    > Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges

    The problem with this libertarian claptrap is that without identity conditions on what’s one lege, it’s hard to say when there’s more or less leges. So the latin saying is atoned by another one according to which there’s no entity without identity.

    The problem with the meme that Reds deregulate while Blues regulate is that it’s false.

  23. #23 Andrew J Dodds
    United Kingdom
    2016/11/17

    Regarding bananas..

    http://www.europarl.org.uk/en/media/euromyths/bendybananas.html

    To simplify trade, someone has to say what constitutes a ‘Class 1’ or ‘Class 2’ banana, because they’ll command different prices. Having these regulations in place and in law is a LOT simpler then having traders personally inspect each batch; instead they can relay on a batch of Class 1 bananas having certain properties and sue the supplier if they don’t.

    It’s not ‘red tape’, it’s ‘rules by which we all do business’. And whilst those rules can no doubt be improved, the idea that there can be a big clean out and we’l all suddenly be better off is a bit childish, to be honest.

    [That’s a typical view, certainly. I don’t share it. I, in turn, regard your apparent naive enthusiasm for excess regulation as “a bit childish, to be honest” -W]

    And it goes without saying that defining this stuff at EU level makes far more sense than having 27 member states all having their own banana standards. Indeed, the more EU-level regulation there is, the less national level regulation is required. Which is something that we in the UK will find out soon enough.

    [I think the mistake you’re making is seeing a need to forbid retailers from selling certain shapes of bananas at all. There is simply no need for such a regulation. Customers are perfectly capable of deciding if they wish to buy a certain shape of banana or not for themselves, without the help of bureaucrats -W]

  24. #24 Andrew J Dodds
    United Kingdom
    2016/11/17

    Well, let’s see.

    We’ve slashed all the regulations on bananas. Hurrah! Freedom has prevailed and all.

    But wait. As a trader wishing to buy a shipment of bananas, I now have no metric to price them by.

    [I don’t believe this. Neither you nor I has any experience importing bananas – or anything else – but I don’t think this is how things work. Most of the large supermarkets have direct contacts with foreign suppliers. They have their own metrics for price; they do not need the silly regulations, which just get in the way. And since these exist to lead and supply “price metrics”, no-one else needs them either -W]

    I could draw up a complicated contract specifying what they should look like, and inspect on this contract, but that’s expensive and bureaucratic – and the supplier now has to try and satisfy multiple customers each with their own standards.

    This has very little to do with individual consumers choosing bananas. Although since a supermarket almost certainly knows that, for instance, 78% of ‘Class I’ bananas will sell before going off, it makes life easier for them as well. And the savvy customer saves by buying deformed class II bananas.

    [You are preventing poor people buying cheaper, but perfectly good, “deformed” bananas that better off people don’t want. And you are preventing poor farmers from selling these. Why you want to do this remains mysterious -W]

    Now, if we all obtained bananas by flying over to the Caribbean and buying them straight from a roadside stall, haggling over price and quality, then things would be different; no regulation needed. But it would make the weekly grocery shop at tad inconvenient.

    Basically, if these standards didn’t exist they would have to be invented. And giving them legal force means that you can sue anyone who tries to sell class II as class I.

    Regulations don’t come about because someone is having a laugh, you know. There are undoubtedly nefarious and/or hobby-horse regulations out there, but the majority are just really boring stuff that help markets to function.

    [I think that’s naive. Regulations often come about through creeping bureacratisation, and often have no real purpose; or have a purpose that reflects a political ideology that can reasonably be disagreed with.

    Unbeknownst to you, you have neatly illustrated why some people hate Hillary and love Trump, and why you totally fail to understand why -W]

    Of course, if you want a really fun example of deregulation, try the whole BSE case. We bravely cancelled the inspections of rendering plants and dropped legislation that would have banned diseased animals from getting into the food chain. ‘Cause why regulate this at all? Customers know best..

    If BSE had been marginally more infectious to humans, we could have lost half the population of the country. Buy hey, all this red tape stuff is bad, you know?

    [Why are you being stupid? I’ve already said that not all regulation is bad. But I can turn this around: *despite* the vast weight of regulation of which you are so fond, the problem still occurred. To use your example: regulation doesn’t work -W]

  25. #25 Russell the stout
    Not far from the bar
    2016/11/17

    Sue? Of course they should. That’s the only way to have freedom, instead of silly regulations. The courts must be funded to begin the lawsuits of roughly 5 billion people each suing, one at a time, all the other 5 billion, for various torts.

    That’s the reductio ad absurdum argument, of course. Are regulations really for the sake of reducing courts’ caseloads?

  26. #26 Phil Hays
    Trumped
    2016/11/17

    So what do you think about The Donald’s love of NDAs?

    Private companies love them as well. But The Donald really loves them. Wants every one in government to sign one.

    Gotta prevent anyone from telling the truth about The Donald.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/16/trump-can-t-legally-make-new-staff-sign-ndas-yet.html

    [NDA’s are as a general principle bad -W]

  27. #27 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk, again
    2016/11/17

    One more time: original laws are simple. First round regulations are somewhat simple and broad. Then the elaboration starts, nitpicking and loophole-crafting.

    You can look up the history of TENORM as an example.
    http://www.wmsym.org/archives/2001/56/56-1.pdf

    “…TENORM arisings occur in huge quantities; two to three orders of magnitude larger than those used in European studies on recycling in the nuclear industry. The activity levels in such arisings are generally the same as in very low level nuclear waste.
    Their occurrence in a large number of industries, as well as their activity levels and quantities, have not been generally known, even to regulatory authorities, until fairly recently. Thus the regulation of TENORM is in its early stages.”

    https://www.google.com/search?q=very+low+level+nuclear+waste

    Good luck with that. Remember the “very low level” designation is about handling risk, not dumping risk — it doesn’t take into account the biological concentration that occurs after dumping. Because biology is natural, so unregulated.

    Oh, wait …. this is how regulations become complicated.

  28. #28 Obstreperous Applesauce
    The streets of Lostplots, senility to be my constant companion?
    2016/11/17

    Having spent some time in a bureaucracy, I observed some of the exotic ecology of SOPs, regulations and the like; how they often grow from ad hoc responses to problems and become layered into complex ecosystems. They evolve, sometimes they die off becoming quaint fossils or they disappear altogether. Strange beasts.

    I’ve also seen the messes that can be made by ignorant reformers and will here hypothesize before your very eyes that if Donald Trump attempts to fix bureaucracy, he will do it in the worst possible way and leave the world a much sadder place for it.

    [That seems all too likely, especially if he tries to do it himself. But we might get lucky; he might appoint someone competent. Perhaps Our Timmy might be interested? -W]

    Watch. We’ll see what happens…

  29. #29 rconnor
    2016/11/17

    How to “justify” climate change mitigation measure skepticism, in three easy to follow steps:

    1 – Hyperbolize the negatives, without any attempt to understand their true probability or magnitude. State “they’ll only make things worse!”.
    2 – Understate or ignore the benefits. State “they’ll never work!”.
    3 – Understate or ignore the probability and magnitude of damages that would occur in their absence. State “they’re not needed in the first place!”.
    BONUS POINTS – Because you ignored the damages in 3, that tend to adversely impact disenfranchised people more, and hyperbolized the negatives in 1, state “Won’t someone please think of the poor people!”.

    Works really well for regulation skepticism as well.

  30. #30 Obstreperous Applesauce
    Drowning in stroppysauce.
    2016/11/17

    Oligarchy or not:

    https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

    …it’s been a weird election.

    Strange things do happen in government. Trump could appoint someone competent for the better (I assume we’re talking about one or another agency here, not the whole government — and probably not the military).

    In any case, this is now a Republican government, including the “drown it in a bathtub” lot. And Trump… reminds me of an east coast wise-guy.

  31. #31 Hank Roberts
    meanwhile
    2016/11/19

    “… We now live in a world where ignorance of a very dangerous sort is being deliberately manufactured, to protect certain kinds of unfettered corporate enterprise. The global climate catastrophe gets short shrift, largely because powerful fossil fuel producers still have enormous political clout, following decades-long campaigns to sow doubt about whether anthropogenic emissions are really causing planetary warming. Trust in science suffers, but also trust in government. And that is not an accident. Climate deniers are not so much anti-science as anti-regulation and anti-government….”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/climate-change-in-trumps-age-of-ignorance.html

    [Hmmm: “active disinterest” raises my hackles: this is not an author who is careful with words and their meanings. “his notion of climate change as a Chinese hoax” – as I’ve already said, I think this is a misreading. “my professors seemed to have little interest in people outside… Why was there so little interest in what they thought or believed?” – this is a really strange question. He’s in the history of science dept, not the sociology dept. “science as an instrument of popular deception” – this too is a very odd thing to say. He doesn’t justify it at all. He wurbles about the influences of fags, yada yada, but that’s not science.

    So in answer to “why do we live in an age of ignorance?” I’d say part of the answer is that folks like RN Proctor are being given space in the NYT to write what looks to me like rubbish.

    Your quote from your man looks like yet more of the “blame someone else” culture that I so dislike. “We’d all be good if it was for the evil capitalists” is wrong, and excuse-making. See e.g. this post (and ctrl-f “evil”). The fossil fuel lobby certainly isn’t helping, but it is fooling a willing constituency that is happy to be fooled -W]

  32. #32 Hank Roberts
    oh, did you want a snippet before clicking?
    2016/12/05

    “Federal Conservative leadership hopeful Chris Alexander said he felt “uncomfortable” during a rally at the Alberta Legislature this weekend as the crowd chanted “lock her up” in response to his comments about Premier Rachel Notley’s leadership.

    “The former immigration minister was a speaker at the rally on Saturday, which was hosted by the right-wing Rebel Media group to protest the NDP government’s plan to impose a carbon tax in January.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/edmonton/chris-alexander-lock-her-up-chant-anti-carbon-tax-1.3880911

  33. #33 Hank Roberts
    meanwhile
    2016/12/05

    The contentious catfish inspection program is back in the Capitol Hill spotlight. On Wednesday, House Energy and Commerce’s health subcommittee holds a hearing on the “Waste and Duplication in the USDA Catfish Inspection Program.” … inspection used to be an FDA thing until Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) got a provision into the 2008 farm bill that moved it to the USDA. The effort was seen as a way to protect U.S. catfish production from Asian imports of similar fish. But now catfish has the distinction of being the only fish inspected by USDA, and many lawmakers and processors point to it as a sign of government waste. Details of the hearing are here.

    http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-agriculture

  34. #34 Hank Roberts
    meanwhile
    2016/12/17

    from the ‘ibertarian spam apparently from someplace called “laissezfaire books” arriving in my email lately:
    http://d2fdrq23ypws1n.cloudfront.net/reports/LFL/gmo_0714/CC.jpg

    (it’s all about Obama, Monsanto, and GMOs

    [I’m not sure of your point. The picture, on its own terms, is obviously stupid. But divorced from context I’m not sure what to make of it -W]

  35. #35 Hank Roberts
    specular
    2016/12/17

    “… The European Union even investigated the FDA’s faulty approval process and concluded that the hormone’s safety had never been proved.

    Canadian scientists also analyzed the FDA’s approval process and wrote a lengthy and scathing report. If you google “Gaps Analysis Report”, you can read it online.

    The report recounted omissions, contradictions, weaknesses, and gaps in the FDA’s approval process….”

    Turble, just turble.

  36. #37 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk, again
    2016/12/18

    > I’m not sure of your point.

    The appeal for better regulation is amusing, being justified by the example of Canada and the EU having taken action.
    Ya never know, they could possibly have it right this time.

    [No, I’m still not getting it, sorry. Its just a context free graph. Perhaps you have a link to the page that uses the graph that might explain it? -W]

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