17966156_647081865488137_7517680791825620468_o Perspective: It’s Not a War on Science by Clark A. Miller puts forward the thesis that

What appears to be a war on science by the current Congress and president is, in fact, no such thing. Fundamentally, it is a war on government2. To be more specific, it is a war on a form of government with which science has become deeply aligned and allied over the past century. To the disparate wings of the conservative movement that believe that US strength lies in its economic freedoms, its individual liberties, and its business enterprises, one truth binds them all: the federal government has become far too powerful.

ATTP has some trouble with this idea, but I recognised – and largely agreed with – it immeadiately1. Naturally enough my attempts to put forward that viewpoint (see the comments) was not an outstanding success, as I knew full well they would not be. It is an Iron Law that, just as any discussion of GW with denialists will end up with the Climatic Research Unit email controversy, so any attempt to discuss regulation or government overreach with the committed left will end up with our children working in mines.

So the main point I’ll try to make – without, of course, any hope of success – is that just as the “right wing” doesn’t believe the “left wing” when they argue for “evidence based policy” – they simply read that as “you want more government control, run by bureaucrats you’ll aim to appoint” – the “left wing” doesn’t believe the “right wing” when they rail against over regulation and government over reach. They simply read that as “tax cuts for the rich and corporate welfare”. The two sides are quite different of course: the left is right about the science, when it comes to GW; but hopelessly illiterate when it comes to economics.

Refs

* Marching for science?
* The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression
* Is The Economist left- or right-wing? – a self-assessment.
* Over-regulated America – the Economist.
* Of course big business loves regulation – me
* Lawnmowing licenses: Crony capitalism in action

Notes

1. I don’t agree with everything he said, and he does get a bit lost in the middle. People can never resist over-elaborating what should be relatively simple arguments. And of course some of the denialists have become anti-science. Don’t get bogged down in detail.

2. Belated support comes from Nature: Beware the anti-science label; ht RS

Comments

  1. #1 willard
    contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com
    2017/04/26

    > the left is right about the science, when it comes to GW; but hopelessly illiterate when it comes to economics.

    Quite a powerful argument you got there.

  2. #2 Victor Venema (@VariabilityBlog)
    2017/04/26

    Before you pressed “publish” you accidentally deleted the arguments.

  3. #3 The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse
    2017/04/26

    I quite like the thrilling mix of false modesty and fair-and-balanced stereotyping.

    The “two solitudes” framing has a long tradition and all, but then, so does the fallacy of exclude middle.

    Anyway – WMC seems to completely miss the most important feature of transnational commerce – It’s always other people’s children that work the mines.

  4. #4 Screwfix?
    2017/04/26

    The ability to make coherent arguments does seem to have gradually deserted wmc. Maybe his mind is elsewhere?

    But at least there are still some frequently repeated (http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/?s=immeadiate) wmc spelling mistakes to discuss: immeadiate does not generally have two As.

    Is there a reason why it is regularly misspelt with the extra as’s?

    [Tradition -W]

  5. #5 Eric Lund
    2017/04/26

    The two sides are quite different of course: the left is right about the science, when it comes to GW; but hopelessly illiterate when it comes to economics.

    I agree with the first half of that sentence. But I’d like to see some evidence that the right wing (at least in the US–the situation may be different elsewhere) has any understanding of economics whatsoever. Because from what I have seen, they don’t. At least that’s the opinion of both Brad DeLong (who blogs on his own website) and Paul Krugman[1] (who blogs for the New York Times), both of whom are actual professors of economics (UC Berkeley and Princeton, respectively) and certainly know much more about the subject than I do. And they provide arguments–usually at a level I can follow–for why the people they are criticizing are wrong.

    Exhibit A on the above point: Many Republican economists at least implicitly support the (ironically appropriately named) Laffer curve. On one level, the Laffer curve is trivially true: under a basic theorem of calculus, an optimum (defined in this case by total tax revenues) must exist. However, that theorem only tells us that the optimum exists; it gives no information regarding the location of that optimum. In particular, the possibility that the optimum marginal rate is 100% is not excluded (it should be obvious that the anti-optimal rate is 0%). Proponents argue that tax rates need to be lowered because they exceed that optimum, but I have never seen anybody making that argument provide actual evidence for that claim.

    [I don’t understand your distaste for the LC. If you want evidence for its empirical max, you can look at e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve#Tax_rate_at_which_revenue_is_maximized -W]

    Most regulations exist for a reason: People died, or were badly hurt, because this regulation was not in effect.

    [Bent bananas -W]

    It’s one thing to argue that a particular regulation is bad for specific reasons–I’ll listen to that argument, and decide for myself whether or not I agree. But not all regulations are bad, so I’m much less inclined to trust somebody who makes blanket promises to get rid of regulations. Such people have a tendency not to do nuance.

    [1]For his trouble Krugman has earned the nickname Krgthulhu. Many US-based pundits seem to think that countering Republican arguments with facts is shrill.

  6. #6 Mal Adapted
    The barricades
    2017/04/26

    Clark A. Miller quoted in OP:

    What appears to be a war on science by the current Congress and president is, in fact, no such thing. Fundamentally, it is a war on for government

    FIFY.

    CAM:

    To the disparate wings of the conservative movement that believe that US strength lies in its economic freedoms, its individual liberties, and its business enterprises, one truth binds them all: the federal government has become far too powerful should give us the money and get out of our way.

    FIFY again.

    “To rule you, we fool you.” The so-called war on science is the familiar war on knowing enough about anything to think for yourself. The current offensive is but a renewed assault by the historical forces of obscurantism in the service of plutocracy. Am I wrong?

  7. #7 Phil
    2017/04/26

    > [Bent bananas -W]

    You should stop, your ignorance is showing

    Quote:
    Nothing is banned under the regulation, which sets grading rules requested by industry to make sure importers – including UK wholesalers and supermarkets – know exactly what they will be getting when they order a box of bananas.

    [You should know better than to trust the Graun on this kind of stuff. Indeed, the very piece you’ve quoted is self contradictory. Of course something is banned under the regulation. How could it not be? That’s the point of regulation. Anyway, we’ve done this stuff before. See-also wiki -W]

  8. #8 David B. Benson
    southeastern Washington state
    2017/04/26

    I suggest reading the Book of Matthew as a tract on primitive and practical economics.

  9. #9 Phil Hays
    Am
    2017/04/26

    “The two sides are quite different of course: the left is right about the science, when it comes to GW; but hopelessly illiterate when it comes to economics.”

    There are a lot of economically illiterate right wingers.

    [Indeed. Trump’s protectionism is illiterate, for example. OTOH, he hasn’t actually done that yet; whereas his current tax proposals, by luck or by judgement, seem quite sane -W]

  10. #10 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/04/26

    Massive tax cut for everyone, even more for the rich, along increased defense spending.

    Do explain how things get paid for.

  11. #11 Phil
    2017/04/26

    “Of course something is banned under the regulation. How could it not be? That’s the point of regulation.”

    The point of this regulation is to classify banana shapes and sizes so, as Andrew Dodds points out, produce can be divided into “classes” which are then sold at different prices. The regulation ensures that all produce has a potential market (if a buyer can be found), in that sense no item of produce is “banned”.

    I guess, you could say the trying to sell a “class 2” banana as a “class 1” one is banned, or at least the buyer has recourse to legal action since the good have been misclassified. But the point remains, as Andrew and the Guardian article points out, this is a regulatory scheme that is requested by wholesalers simply to ensure they know what kind of produce they will get when ordering different classes of produce. It represents a considerable time and money saving on any other way of ensuring quality. So your use of this regulation as a counter to Eric Lunds statement “Most regulations exist for a reason” seems wrong to me – there is a very good reason for it . The regulation exists to make the life of buyers (and very probably sellers) of bananas easier and cheaper, it gives them an idea about what they can expect and gives them legal recourse if the produce does not met the specified standard.

  12. #12 Russell
    East of the Pecos
    2017/04/26

    Some years ago the blog of Pete Dupont’s Texas pro-carbon think tank . an institution as rich in Evangelicals as analytically impoverished, let pass the observation that there wasn’t all that much politicization of science down their way, because it was hard to find folks with any idea of what it was that they were being paid to politicize

  13. #13 rconnor
    2017/04/26

    > “Bent Banana” – WC

    Delegitimize any regulation (or mitigation measure) you want using the easy-to-follow three step processes!

    Step 1: Hyperbolize the negatives! – WC seems to think that the regulation means that deformed bananas cannot be sold (“You are preventing poor people buying cheaper…bananas”). This is untrue – they can still be sold as Class II.

    Step 2: Ignore the benefits! – WC seems to ignore any possible benefit of the regulation. Admittedly, there isn’t much – but this example was handpicked for being an absurd and negative regulation. I’d wager a guess and say the reason why bananas can be much cheaper at discount supermarkets is because they purchase Class II bananas. This creates a discount market which gives the consumer more choice and allows producers to sell bad yields/batches. It also protects the consumer from being sold lesser quality bananas that are marketed as superior quality or bananas that are unhealthy to eat.

    Step 3: Ignore damages in absence of measure/regulation! – WC seems to ignore any damages that may occur in the absence of such a regulation. Again, the “damages” would be minimal if no regulation existed. One may be if spoiled or diseased bananas are found in a particular growing area, with the regulation you now have a means of tracking the origin of the bananas for a more effective recall. Without the regulation, you’d have no such protection.

    BOUNS POINT: “Won’t someone please think of the poor!” – WC says “You are preventing poor people buying cheaper…bananas”. Ding, ding, ding – bonus point! But this is wrong. In fact, you are creating a market for discount bananas so people that don’t care about the size or shape of the banana can buy them for cheaper than class I bananas.

    A perfect score for WC!

    (WC quotes from – http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2016/11/12/corruptissima-re-publica-plurimae-leges/)

    Of course this regulation is a little silly and its value is limited. Just as WC says he never said all regulations are bad, we have never said all regulations are good. But it’s not nearly as negative as WC makes it seem. And something about cherry picked, straw men.

  14. #14 izen
    2017/04/26

    @-“the “left wing” doesn’t believe the “right wing” when they rail against over regulation and government over reach.”

    Perhaps because it is only a small extreme fringe of the right-wing that rail. And then it is usually performance art.

    In most mature Western democracies the corporate rich long since gained regulatory capture.
    Less developed Nations still get by with bribery.

  15. #15 andrew adams
    United Kingdom
    2017/04/26

    The reason you got flack at ATTP is that you made a broad brush, question begging claim

    “I think it is regrettable that “the left” (is even that fair? Most people, actually) don’t seem able to see that the level of regulation we have is a problem.”

    and when challenged on it just resorted to sneering at people.

    Of course there is no danger of children being sent down mines nowadays (at least in the UK as we don’t have any mines left),

    [Exactly. And yet when I challenged that, I got flack. And no-one else challenged it. You’re partisan; face it -W]

    the point is that preventing the exploitation of child labour is something which is an obvious and uncontroversial example of where regulations are justified,

    [Actually, it isn’t. It may have been once, it isn’t any more. Not in The West. But that you live in a bubble where you can say such things is telling. You need to get out more -W]

    so you need to be specific about which actual regulations you are objecting to and demonstrate that they are a problem as a whole. The UK is actually not particularly highly regulated compared to other developed economies. The US obviously even less so).

    I don’t doubt there are examples of pointless regulations, but the bendy bananas one really isn’t a good example. It’s not considered onerous by those who it actually affects and is dishonestly misrepresented by the kind of right wing cranks which you really don’t want to associate yourself with.

  16. #16 Nathan Tetlaw
    2017/04/26

    I’d say that politics is about marketing, and that the game is not about reality. Doesn’t matter who is actually better, the Republicans just market themselves as so.

    We’ve had Right Wing Govts here in Australia that have done equally as poorly as Left Wing Govts economically. in fact they have done especially bad over the last 4 years – so much so that the myth that Conservatives are better financially is starting to wane here.

    I think you need some evidence for you claims. They’re pretty empty right now.

    also to focus on ‘Children in Mines’ is a cheap shot – Chris had numerous points in his response, and you chose to ignore them.

    [“Children in mines” was a ridiculously stupid example for him to use. So, why did he use it? Why, once I’d pointed out that it was stupid, didn’t he come back and say “oh, yes, you’re right, that was stupid”? And why is it only me pointing out the dribble: why do the rest of you give it a free pass. This is like comment threads at WUWT. As to the rest of his suggestions – yet more regulation. Hillary’s solution to every problem. and you wonder why some people don’t like her? -W]

  17. #17 willard
    contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com
    2017/04/27

    > We’ve had Right Wing Govts here in Australia that have done equally as poorly as Left Wing Govts economically.

    Beware that our Stoatness was referring to the Left in general. Which means he kinda forgot Piketty, to name one name, and that saltwater economics has yet to recover the recent crash. Blaming leftists for an employment crisis created by GRRROWTH bigots would be more than ironic.

    Considering that we’re still looking for an exact ways to estimate the size of programs, Freedom Fighters might be hard pressed to provide a non-controversial measure of government size.

  18. #18 Kevin Thomas O'Neill
    Eagle Lake, Wisconsin
    2017/04/27

    The Milwaukee Journal -Sentinel has an article today on a Bald Eagle spotted in Milwaukee sitting in a tree munching on a rabbit.

    That’s what the EPA and regulation can get you. If detractors of regulation had had their way 50 years ago these birds would likely be extinct today. Monckton has written extensively decrying the DDT decision. You’re on his side.

    [Sigh. This is WUWT level thinking. No, I don’t oppose *all* regulation. As I’ve said before. But you don’t listen, you prefer your strawman -W]

    That’s a circumstance that should always give one pause.

    The ‘no true Scotsman’ argument will follow.

    *** Note: in 1973 there were just 100 breeding pairs of Bald Eagles left in the state of Wisconsin. Today there are over 1500.

  19. #19 Windchasers
    United States
    2017/04/27

    > The UK is actually not particularly highly regulated compared to other developed economies. The US obviously even less so

    Nah, the US is starting to creep towards more regulation. Look at the happiest or wealthiest countries in the world, and many of them are less-regulated than the US. Switzerland, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand… even Denmark has less regulation than the US, although they have higher taxes.

  20. #20 Kevin Thomas O'Neill
    2017/04/27

    On a more philosophical note, our system does not generally take into account economic externalities. If one believes this is economically incorrect/inefficient, then one should approve of almost every regulation because they are the current mode of accounting for externalities.

    [No, one should not, because it’s a poor way of doing it. See Carbon Tax ad nauseam. You’re proving, once again, why the Repubs don’t like and don’t trust you. Like Hillary, your solution to every problem is more regulation -W]

    Yes, there are alternatives to regulation that could also account for the externalities , but do you see these being championed by the people that want to reduce regulations? No, they simply want the externalities to not be accounted for – they want a free ride.

    This is, of course, the blind spot that you have on this subject; you believe the conservatives have an ideological basis for their beliefs when the vast majority simply have greed as their keystone motivation. It’s no different than their proposed cure for any economic ill – cut taxes on the wealthy! Consider how many decades you have to go back to find a Republican tax plan that provided more in tax relief to middle or low income wage earners than upper incomes. That ship has sails on it.

  21. #21 Windchaser
    United States
    2017/04/27

    > “If one believes this is economically incorrect/inefficient, then one should approve of almost every regulation because they are the current mode of accounting for externalities.”

    *Sometimes* the externalities are badly accounted-for by regulation.

    For instance, I don’t see any real need for the state to demand certification from hairdressers and pedicurists. Nor to limit the number of liquor licenses that are sold in a town, nor tell me that I can’t buy beer before noon on a Sunday.

    It’s not regulation that I have a problem with, it’s *dumb* regulation. But then, I’m not a climate change denier.

  22. #22 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    2017/04/27

    @Windchaser #21:

    I don’t see any real need for the state to demand certification from hairdressers and pedicurists.

    I sincerely hope you are just being sarcastic.
    Sometimes, people come in to hairdressers with scalp infections or lice. To prevent that from happening, hairdressers are supposed to follow certain hygiene protocols. Their instruments must be sterilised between uses to prevent transfer of infections, and if a client has lice, they are to immediately stop the haircut and spray the area to kill the lice. Certification lets me know that any hairdresser I go to has been taught these techniques and that I am unlikely to leave the salon with an unwanted scalp infection, scabies, or lice.
    Just because you don’t understand the reason for a certification doesn’t mean there isn’t an excellent reason for it.

    [Disagree. There is no need for certification. Or if there were a need, it would be more uniform. The rules for certification of hairdressers are there to protect the interests of incumbents, not the public. You are arguing for the nanny state: that everywhere, and at all levels, people cannot make their own choices; they need a state to protect them. There’s a level where that is true, and a level where it isn’t. Hairdressers are below the level where it is true. We’re in the process, via Uber, of discovering that taxi drivers are also below that level -W]

  23. #23 BBD
    2017/04/27

    [No, one should not [regulate], because it’s a poor way of doing it. See Carbon Tax ad nauseam.

    Obvs there is a necessity for govt regulation to prevent the maximisation of profit through excessive externalisation of cost (eg environmental protection; product safety regulation).

    Bu in this sense, isn’t a carbon tax essentially a form of regulation?

    [If you like. But I don’t think arguing semantics is helpful. There is a clear difference in character between a carbon tax, and a federally mandated fuel economy standard, for example. One encourages less fuel use. The other encourages SUVs -W]

  24. #24 Kevin Thomas O'Neill
    United States
    2017/04/27

    WC writes: [No, one should not, because it’s a poor way of doing it. See Carbon Tax ad nauseam. You’re proving, once again, why the Repubs don’t like and don’t trust you. Like Hillary, your solution to every problem is more regulation -W]

    Did you fail to read the following paragraph?

    “Yes, there are alternatives to regulation that could also account for the externalities , but do you see these being championed by the people that want to reduce regulations? No, they simply want the externalities to not be accounted for – they want a free ride.”

    So, what is the alternative remedy for a hair dresser that ends up giving you scabies that you’re proposing in lieu of regulation?

    [If you are incapable of thinking of that for yourself, there’s no point talking -W]

    Or the barber that lads to almost an entire elementary school full of kids with head lice? Where is this being championed by those that lampoon the hair-dresser reg?

    They shoot horses, don’t they?

  25. #25 BBD
    2017/04/27

    [If you like. But I don’t think arguing semantics is helpful. There is a clear difference in character between a carbon tax, and a federally mandated fuel economy standard, for example. One encourages less fuel use. The other encourages SUVs -W]

    I don’t understand this. Both a carbon tax and a federally mandated fuel economy standard discourage the use of SUVs. Okay, I’m doubtless missing the point, but please clarify.

    [AFAIK, the original popularity and expansion of SUVs came from evading the fuel standards for cars. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicle#Origins for example; or http://www.autotrucktoys.com/suv-accessories/article-history-of-the-suv.aspx -W]

  26. #26 BBD
    2017/04/27

    Sorry, sorry – this SUV thing is the US vehicle classification loophole, of course.

    [Aha, yes, we crossed :-) -W]

  27. #27 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    2017/04/27

    @WMC:

    You are arguing for the nanny state: that everywhere, and at all levels, people cannot make their own choices; they need a state to protect them.

    No I wasn’t. Please stop making straw man arguments.

    [I disagree; and I don’t think it’s a strawman. If you’re down to regulating hairdressers, there’s precious little left below your “too trivial to regulate” level, so effectively you’re regulating everything -W]

    I was pointing out that part of the reason behind certification is safety. It is certainly possible to have safety without regulation, but without certification it can be very hard to tell if the person cutting your hair is following the correct protocols to avoid spreading lice or ringworm.

  28. #28 Nathan Tetlaw
    2017/04/27

    WMC

    “And why is it only me pointing out the dribble: why do the rest of you give it a free pass.”
    It has historical context. and there’s a lot of other crap that doesn’t get picked up.

    “and you wonder why some people don’t like her?”

    More people voted for her than Trump! Jeepers, don’t you think?

    “This is like comment threads at WUWT”
    And yet you offer NOTHING, but sit there like a sanctimonious fool accusing others of not thinking. At least share you wisdom; people have asked you repeatedly and you stay silent.

    At least make a testable claim.

    [http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/01/19/theres-no-light-the-foolish-ca/ -W]

  29. #29 dave s
    2017/04/27

    The bent banana jibe is symptomatic: the NYT of 6th October 1995 stated “The banana story began with a page-one article last week in The Sun, which reported that ‘Brussels bureaucrats proved yesterday what a barmy bunch they are — by outlawing curved bananas’.”
    It was soon pointed out that this was untrue: the EU regulations gave a list of quality standards for green unripened bananas, including “free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers”. For marketing, ‘Extra’ class had to meet most of the standards, Class I were allowed “slight defects in shape”, but Class II could have “defects of shape”. Gross hypocrisy from the Sun, as for years British retailers have focussed on appearance of fruit, while those Euroforeigners were happy with misshapen tomatoes that tasted better.

    Food standards weren’t new, British Standards go way back, and “International Standards for fruit and Vegetables” were established by the OECD in 1962, so hardly an argument against the EU.

    Despite this, the tale persisted and is now common myth to the extent that WMC merely has to refer to “bendy bananas”. It’s completely in line with stories fabricated by comedian Boris Johnson about the EU. Wonder how he’s getting on?

  30. #30 Nathan Tetlaw
    2017/04/27

    “http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/01/19/theres-no-light-the-foolish-ca/”

    What?

    Seriously?

    You claim Clinton wasn’t popular, but seem to forget she won more votes. Crikey.

    Look you have no basis for you claims that you can actually show us, so it’s just a pile of empty nonsense

    Jeepers mate, at least treat people who post here seriously.

    This post is a bent banana

  31. #31 Nathan Tetlaw
    2017/04/27

    “This is one of my favourite proverbs. I quite often find myself turning it over in my own mind as some particularly dense person fails yet again to see the bleedin’ obvious.”

    The funniest thing about this, is that you haven’t actually made a specific case. You case amounts to this:

    “The two sides are quite different of course: the left is right about the science, when it comes to GW; but hopelessly illiterate when it comes to economics.”
    Which is just bollocks.

  32. #32 verytallguy
    2017/04/27

    the point is that preventing the exploitation of child labour is something which is an obvious and uncontroversial example of where regulations are justified,

    > [Actually, it isn’t. It may have been once, it isn’t any more. Not in The West. But that you live in a bubble where you can say such things is telling. You need to get out more -W]

    The *reason* it’s not a problem in the West is that it’s *illegal* in the West.

    [No. You’re wrong. The reason it that it isn’t economic. When “going down the mines” meant hefting a pick or whatever, it took no training to make a child do something economically valuable. That is no longer true; you need a whole pile of training to be worth anything. So it is no longer worth anyone’s while to send children down mines -W]

    Or are you suggesting that laws making schooling compulsory should be abolished?

    [Probably, yes. If schooling is in people’s interests, why does it need to be compulsory? If it isn’t in their interests, why is it compulsory? -W]

    Try making a rational argument rather than making assertions and throwing insults.

  33. #33 Dunc
    2017/04/27

    So, what is the alternative remedy for a hair dresser that ends up giving you scabies that you’re proposing in lieu of regulation?

    [If you are incapable of thinking of that for yourself, there’s no point talking -W]

    No, seriously, what’s your proposed remedy? Scabies takes two to six weeks to show symptoms, so by the time you realise you’ve got it you’ve got no idea where it came from. How the hell are you even supposed to figure out what the source was?

  34. #34 verytallguy
    2017/04/27

    “That is no longer true; you need a whole pile of training to be worth anything. So it is no longer worth anyone’s while to send children down mines”

    If he was allowed, Mike Ashley would have them in his warehouse in a split second. And on far less than the regulated minimum wage, once you’ve abolished that.

    [AFAIK MA doesn’t run any mines -W]

    You really, really do need to get out more. The UK economy (and Western in general) is not a universal high skill, high wage environment.

    “Or are you suggesting that laws making schooling compulsory should be abolished?

    > [Probably, yes. If schooling is in people’s interests, why does it need to be compulsory? If it isn’t in their interests, why is it compulsory? -W]”

    1) It’s in the children’s economic interests, not the parents
    2) It benefits the whole of society
    3) Life is about more than economics
    4) etc

    [children’s economic interests… more than economics – why have you suddenly introduced the qualifier “economic”? I didn’t -W]

  35. #35 The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse
    2017/04/27


    [Actually, it isn’t. It may have been once, it isn’t any more. Not in The West. But that you live in a bubble where you can say such things is telling. You need to get out more -W]

    WMC still does not realize that where cheap labour is concerned, there is no “The West”.

    [Errm, yes, I do. We could perhaps almost define “the West” as that part of the world where child labour isn’t economic -W]

    To use his own argument form:
    If child labour has no economic value, why then are there are there 170 million child labourers??

    [Because they aren’t in the West -W]

    Talk about bubbles.

    May I suggest that one reason why the Montréal Protocol on CFCs has been successful is that it was the first universally ratified treaty in United Nations history?

    Apparently, WMC would have had Rowland and Molina giving carefully-worded powerpoint presentations in the boardrooms of DuPont and the Precision Valve Corporation instead.

    [That would be a bad idea -W]

  36. #36 The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse
    2017/04/27


    [Errm, yes, I do. We could perhaps almost define “the West” as that part of the world where child labour isn’t economic -W]

    Again – you miss the point. Child labour in the non-West contributes direct economic benefits to the West. You seem to assume that the economies of the West and the Not-West are somehow distinct. Go to Walmart or Tesco and read some clothing labels, will you?

    [Of course they are distinct. They are interlinked, however. Whether child labour should be prohibited in the non-West is a matter for them, not us, however. It isn’t at all clear that they should prohibit it -W]

    Thanks for the Gettysburg Powerpoint link, though.

  37. #37 Dunc
    2017/04/27

    [Errm, yes, I do. We could perhaps almost define “the West” as that part of the world where child labour isn’t economic -W]

    Really?

    [Apart from sexual exploitation, children can be trafficked in many ways. They are employed in illegal activities, such as working on cannabis farms and in street crime. Sometimes they are used as accessories in benefit fraud… These are all illegal anyway. You don’t need anti-child-labour laws -W]

  38. #38 The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse
    2017/04/27


    Whether child labour should be prohibited in the non-West is a matter for them, not us, however. It isn’t at all clear that they should prohibit it -W]

    OK – I get that you do not give a shit about the welfare of others’ children so long as they are far enough away. Your choice.

    [It’s more a matter of cultural imperialism. You think that your morals are, self-evidently, correct. Not just for you, or your nation, but for everyone. And you want to impose your morals on everyone, regardless of whether they agree or not. You are more advanced than them, so how could you not know better than them? I am rather more modest. I am prepared to believe that other people are also capable of thinking, even if they are brown, and may possibly have valuable opinions that we should listen to. Especially when those are opinions are about the trade-offs they face in their daily lives. This, too, is in Hayek -W]

    Curious, though – Do you think that slavery or the legal and political enfranchisement of women in the Not-West is only a matter for them?

    [The theory of morals is not complete. Most people recognise that morals are not entirely absolute, but are at least partially relative. But most people have a hard time deciding that murder is merely relative. Drawing a sharp line between what is absolute and what is relative is not, AFAIK, a solved problem -W]

    More generally – Do you think that nation-state boundaries, most of which were drawn up in the 19th century, delimit the current scope of our morality?

    [That the boundaries are new isn’t particularly relevant so I don’t know why you mention it. Actually the entire question seems merely a subset of previous questions -W]

    [Incivility redacted. If you don’t want your posts held in moderation, try to be polite enough that the dumb wordpress sw doesn’t trigger -W]

  39. #39 Marco
    2017/04/27

    “child labour isn’t economic”

    Isn’t economic for whom?

    And why isn’t it economic?

    [Did you read what I wrote? -W]

  40. #40 Race to the bottom
    2017/04/27

    Human rights? or , more specifically the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Unnecessary cumbersome regulations?

    [AFAIK, “human rights” don’t count as regulations; they don’t directly affect stuff. They are merely inputs to legal decisions. But IANAL so I could have got that wrong. In general, I’d say they are a slippery concept. After all, who could possibly object to something as nice-sounding as “human rights” – just the name makes them good, doesn’t it? And yet, it must actually matter what they say, not what they’re labelled as -W]

  41. #41 Hank Roberts
    ka-ching!
    2017/04/27

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2017/04/27/somehow-the-trump-administration-is-still-debating-climate-change-at-least-a-decade-after-the-debate-ended/
    ____________
    excerpt:

    … The Trump administration is thinking it over. This is simply one more preposterous aspect of this group of power-holders that we are somehow supposed to accept as within the bounds of normal governing. It’s not. It is an example either of criminal-level disregard for human welfare, or outright insanity. Let’s leave open the possibility that it’s both.

    While the media has (sort of) been catching up to the known, measurable crisis that is an absolute, terrifying fact, it is still way behind on the terrifying part.

    In what other universe would the coming inundation of Florida be so thoroughly ignored? Even here in this account, an effort seemed to be required to frame it as a story about real estate prices…..

  42. #43 Hank Roberts
    and yeah, W is right ...
    2017/04/27

    ” To understand where the Heartland Institute is coming from, consider a recent comment by its president, Joseph Bast, who called global warming “another fake crisis” for Democrats “to hype to scare voters and raise campaign dollars.”

    The book was first published in 2015, to coincide with the Paris climate conference and influence policy makers. The second edition was released this year with an instructional DVD.

    Public school teachers are not the only ones on the institute’s mailing list. College educators are getting copies of the book, too….”

  43. #44 Dunc
    2017/04/27

    These are all illegal anyway. You don’t need anti-child-labour laws -W]

    The use of children for illegal labour tends to indicate that legality is the key factor. You initially seemed to be arguing that child labour laws were unnecessary because their labour is worthless in the modern “Western” economy. (“When ‘going down the mines’ meant hefting a pick or whatever, it took no training to make a child do something economically valuable. That is no longer true; you need a whole pile of training to be worth anything.”) This clearly indicates that that is not the case. If children are being used for illegal labour, it seems reasonable to assume that the only thing preventing them from being used for legal labour is the existence of child labour laws.

    There are still plenty of jobs which are economically valuable but which do not require much in the way of training. Many of those jobs would traditionally have been done by children, and only stopped being done by children when we made it illegal.

    [It’s an argument, but I don’t think I believe it -W]

  44. #45 Hank Roberts
    except when he's wrong, of course
    2017/04/27

    from the thread above:

    >> what is the alternative remedy for a hair dresser
    >> that ends up giving you scabies … in lieu of regulation?

    > [If you are incapable of thinking of that for yourself,
    > there’s no point talking -W]

    Translation: if your first response isn’t “sue the jerk” you’re not thinking like an ibertarian.

    No, seriously, we’ve managed to build a very technically complicated civilization here, in which almost every facet has aspects that will do longterm harm if not done right.

    Letting people f*ck up then hiring a lawyer is not smart. Especially when done on a global scale. Lawyers like it tho.

    Taking precautions is smart.
    “Precautionary principle” is smart.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=late+lessons+early+warnings

    For crapsake, we could easily have lost the ozone layer a decade or more before the tech existed to discover why we had a problem with CFCs. Using chlorine instead of bromine was a lucky coin-flip economic choice, when persistent organic compounds were commercialized. You do remember Crutzen’s Nobel speech, don’t you?

    Every technology we have has been developed to the point where seemingly arbitrary choices can have devastating consequences the uneducated worker won’t understand.

    A few years back I worked in a San Francisco office building where the cleaning crew couldn’t read, and their manager fucked off and didn’t bother. They discovered that the toilets got much cleaner if they mixed ammonia and bleach. Oh, but it made this yellow fog that pervaded the office floor they were working on and had a sharp funny smell.

    Now imagine a crew cleaning out a railroad car.

    Stuff happens. Education is precautionary, nowadays.

    “A stitch in time saves nine” is wisdom from the early years of the technological society.

  45. #46 The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse
    2017/04/27


    You are more advanced than them, so how could you not know better than them? I am rather more modest. I am prepared to believe that other people are also capable of thinking, even if they are brown, and may possibly have valuable opinions that we should listen to. Especially when those are opinions are about the trade-offs they face in their daily lives. This, too, is in Hayek -W

    Nowhere did I suggest that brown people are not capable of thinking. Cheap shot.

    The fact that other people think for themselves does not preclude that they might not face the same range of freedom-of-choice that we do in the West. In fact, I’ve been trying to suggest that the appetite for cheap goods in the West is partly to blame for the very same “trade-offs they face in their daily lives” that you mention.

    Sorry – but I do think that some moral principles are universal.

    [Actually, I think everyone does. Or almost everyone. However, the “some” is a problem. As I said, almost no-one thinks *all* moral principles are universal. So saying “here is a moral principle, so it must be universal” doesn’t help you. For each moral principle you’re trying to apply, you need to clearly state if you think it is universal or not, and if you think it is, why and/or whether you think there is universal agreement on this or not -W]

    I think kids everywhere deserve good meals, good hospitals, and good educations. I think slavery is wrong. If you want to call that “cultural imperialism” so that you can feel good when you buy the cheapest clothing on the planet, then I guess I shall live with that.

    And, Hayek? FFS.

    [Hayek] advocated mandatory universal health care and unemployment insurance, enforced, if not directly provided, by the state.” Bernard Harcourt says that “Hayek was adamant about this.”

    In the 1973 Law, Legislation, and Liberty, Hayek wrote:

    There is no reason why in a free society government should not assure to all, protection against severe deprivation in the form of an assured minimum income, or a floor below which nobody need descend. To enter into such an insurance against extreme misfortune may well be in the interest of all; or it may be felt to be a clear moral duty of all to assist, within the organised community, those who cannot help themselves. So long as such a uniform minimum income is provided outside the market to all those who, for any reason, are unable to earn in the market an adequate maintenance, this need not lead to a restriction of freedom, or conflict with the Rule of Law.

    [The devil may quote scripture to his own ends. Or, less obscurely, be careful about picking out fragments. Yes, Hayek does argue for an insurance against extreme misfortune may well be in the interest of all; or it may be felt to be a clear moral duty of all to assist, within the organised community, those who cannot help themselves; and I agree with him. But that’s within a society. He doesn’t argue for it globally -W]

  46. #47 Dunc
    2017/04/27

    [It’s an argument, but I don’t think I believe it -W]

    Oh, well, that’s persuasive.

    Look, I can give you some specific examples if you like… There’s still plenty of unskilled agricultural labour out there – a great deal of that always used to be done by children. “Going down the mines” may no longer mean hefting a pick, but there was a chap hefting a pick on the pavement outside my office this morning, so pick-hefting hasn’t actually gone away. Hell, just the other day, I literally passed a child who, couldn’t have been more than 12, in a hi-vis vest and hard hat, carrying one end of a sheet of plasterboard into the hotel round the corner that’s being renovated. (I guess it was take-your-kid-to-work-day or something…) There are still lots of domestic-type jobs (hotel chambermaid, kitchen porter, domestic cleaner, and so on) that children could do perfectly well. I’ve personally done factory work that children could do, and in a previous century they most certainly would have. You don’t need training or education to be a warehouse picker. Do you imagine that fish are gutted by robots or something? No, it’s a simple, monotonous, and moderately hazardous manual job that, until fairly recently, was almost always done by children. I could go on almost endlessly here.

  47. #48 Russell
    East Toontown on the Charles
    2017/04/27

    Let us have a moment of silence for the first if Eli’s relatives to perish of airline deregulation, or maybe jet steam chilling , or something on the United Airlines steerage menu:

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-hindenberg-is-looking-better-and.html

  48. #49 The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse
    2017/04/27


    But that’s within a society. He doesn’t argue for it globally -W

    Have you heard of this thing called the internet?
    Have you ever been to the world’s biggest container port, Shanghai?
    Welcome to the 21st century.
    Society IS global, dude.

    [Not really, no. the safety net we provide for our own citizens is not extended globally -W]

    It’s kinda like the climate in that respect.

    Marks and Spencer get this.
    Rowland and Molina got it.
    Not sure why you can’t.

    Your convenient parsing has now become boring.

  49. #50 Hank Roberts
    browsing the Code of Federal Regulations for you here
    2017/04/27
  50. #51 izen
    2017/04/27

    @-“Whether child labour should be prohibited in the non-West is a matter for them, not us, however. It isn’t at all clear that they should prohibit it -W”

    The child labour about which you are so relaxed in the brown people nations, is imposed by their linkage to the global commodity market.

    [I don’t think I believe that. I think it pre-dates said GCM -W]

    It is not a freely chosen option. Both at the nation-state level and the individual family/child level the autonomy available is MUCH less than it is in the west. Not least because the business enterprises they are ‘linked’ to are often much richer and more powerful than their client goverments and employers.

    When the industrial revolution in the West pulled the population of the land a similar process occurred. Children who might previously had some traditional role in the family helping in agricultural work, were then marshalled into a dawn to dusk industrial worker role. If you look at the history of why it took till after the first world war to regulate against such child labour you will see why it is damaging to both the community and individuals to allow child labour and why it was abolished.
    And how business interests opposed the elimination of child labour every step of the way. An approach they are repeating in any nation of brown people where goverments attempt to regulate child labour for the same motives as drove the Victorians.

    [I think your perspective is shallow and one sided and overly prescriptive. I think having children go to school rather than work is good, and indeed a societal good. But I think that having that so, rather than having them at work, can’t simply be mandated. The economic forces at work, are at work. In the UK they aren’t. In the poor world they are. You can’t wave a majic regulatory wand and solve the problem. But you can make things worse -W]

  51. #52 Marco
    2017/04/27

    Yes, I read what you wrote, and it’s not true.

    [Ah. then rather than asking the questions, it would make for a less laboured conversation if you’d say that directly -W]

    You may want to look into jobs related to vegetable sorting, or mushroom farming. Especially the latter is by necessity manual labor and can, with certainty, be taught to children (I was in high school with a kid whose dad had such a farm, and he already helped him since he was around 10 years old).
    There’s probably a non-trivial lower limit for children to be used in stocking shelves in supermarkets, but I know they sometimes use 12-year olds in several places. You’ve got dishwasher jobs advertised literally in the tens of thousands (in the US), where it is mainly the size of the equipment used + the height of the sink that determines how ‘old’ you’ll have to be to do that job.

    It’s really not so hard to see there are plenty of jobs for children out there. Unless a company would be forced to pay everyone the same salary, it may be well economically very much viable for them to hire a child, rather than an adult. Why do you think so many supermarkets already now are looking for 14-15 year olds? It’s not because they are so much more competent, they are much cheaper. But they can’t hire even younger one’s, because the child labor regulations make it very difficult to use them when they need them (like during the evening/night/early morning/school hours).

    And let’s not forget the entertainment industry. Some child actors could have had 24/7 jobs, if it weren’t for the child labor laws. No one doubts that it would be economically very profitable for those who employed the child actor and their parents if those labor laws didn’t exist. Maybe you think that’s fine, because, well, who is hurt by that? The child, of course.

    [It isn’t clear to me that a child is better off for being in school, rather than making oodles of money from acting and being tutored. It also isn’t clear to me that outside Moral forces should make that choice for them. it just doesn’t seem to be necessary -W]

  52. #53 MMM
    2017/04/27

    As with many here, I have a number of disagreements with several of your assertions. Certainly, many laws and/or enacted regulations are less than economically optimal, but I think that the “left” is currently closer to the economic optimum than “the right” (at least in the US).

    I happen to think that there are a number of ways in which externalities, information asymmetries, monopolistic behaviors, transaction costs, and macroeconomic behaviors lead to cases in which government taxes & regulations can be more efficient than what Econ101 would lead you to believe.

    On the current administration 1-pager tax “proposal” that you evaluate as “quite sane”, I disagree. Let’s start with the fact that it has no actual details, which is where, as we all know, the devil lives. Then, generally, the list is very much skewed towards cutting taxes for the rich which in my opinion won’t have much or any positive impact on the vast majority of Americans (see, e.g., Brownback tax cuts and Kansas). Maybe doubling the standard deduction is okay. But no-go on eliminating the highest tax bracket, the estate tax, the AMT, or counting pass-through income as corporate. And the childcare credit is going to be skewed towards the wealthy, particularly in a universe with a doubled standard deduction. If I trusted the Republican party, I might be behind restructuring the corporate tax code to drop the top rate in return for eliminating loopholes & tax breaks that aren’t providing useful incentives. But I don’t trust them in the slightest to do anything that isn’t centered on increasing the incomes of the very richest, or reducing protections for the poorest, women, and minorities. Oh, and in an ideal world I’d reduce the cap on the home ownership mortgage deduction (1 million dollars?!), but I guess we’re protecting that one.

  53. #54 The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse
    2017/04/27


    [Not really, no. the safety net we provide for our own citizens is not extended globally -W]

    Indeed.
    But our economic activities are extended globally.
    Citizenship is almost beside the point where the flow of capital is concerned.

    You may really believe that your local business transactions have no moral consequences to people that do not vote in the same elections that you do – but that belief, IMHO, is a flimsy rationalization for being a provincialist.

    As in:

    The economic forces at work, are at work. In the UK they aren’t. In the poor world they are.

    Same money. Same forces.

    I find it quite amazing that you cannot acknowledge that the immense transfer of wealth TO the West, and the immense transfer of external costs FROM the West, that has occurred over the last decades has some moral relevance.

    [Over recent decades, due to globalisation, the world’s poor have got massively richer. See the Branko Milanovic curve; e.g. at http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21707219-charting-globalisations-discontents-shooting-elephant -W]

    Well, sure, the West has added the great majority of GHGs to the (global) atmosphere while making piles of money in the process. But that the West should actually be morally obliged to help the world’s poorer economies to deal with the consequences of those same GHGs? – not “our own citizens” so not “our” problem, eh?

    This is simply the tragedy of the commons expressed in terms of electoral districts.

    I feel I should not want to ever share a life-boat with you, WMC.

    Oh, wait – I already do.

  54. #55 Hank Roberts
    and follow the links
    2017/04/27

    There’s been an exception in the child labor laws, at least for the UK, for the entertainment industry, since the Victorian period.

    But per the Daily Mail India, that’s no longer true:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2195404/No-pain-child-stars-Entertainment-industry-gets-jitters-government-nod-ban-child-labour.html

  55. #56 Kevin Thomas O'Neill
    United States
    2017/04/27

    WCwrites: “[Sigh. This is WUWT level thinking. No, I don’t oppose *all* regulation. As I’ve said before. But you don’t listen, you prefer your strawman -W]”

    Two sentences afterwards you find I wrote, “The ‘no true Scotsman’ argument will follow.”

    Prophetic. This is not the regulation you were looking for.

    Asked twice for the alternative hairdresser remedy we hear?

    Crickets.

  56. #57 rconnor
    2017/04/27

    WC,

    > ““Children in mines” was a ridiculously stupid example for him to use. So, why did he use it? Why, once I’d pointed out that it was stupid, didn’t he come back and say “oh, yes, you’re right, that was stupid”?” – WC

    ”[Bent bananas]” was a ridiculously stupid example for [you] to use. So, why did [you] use it? Why, once [we] pointed out that it was stupid, didn’t [you] come back and say “oh, yes, you’re right, that was stupid”?

  57. #58 izen
    2017/04/27

    @-W
    “I think your perspective is shallow and one sided and overly prescriptive.”

    I would welcome any direction you could indicate that would deepen it.
    But I did not intend to prescribe anything, I was attempting to be purely descriptive. If I implied an ought from is it was inadvertent.

    @-“The economic forces at work, are at work. In the UK they aren’t. In the poor world they are. You can’t wave a majic regulatory wand and solve the problem. But you can make things worse -W”

    I have no wish to wave a regulatory wand and would not expect it to solve anything. Regulation emerges from the interaction of the various groups that have an interest and the power to evolve them.

    There is an excluded middle or something between ‘solve the problem’ and ‘make things worse’
    Apart from the question of make things worse for whom?

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/04/martin-luther-kings-letter-from-birmingham-jail/274668/

  58. #59 Russell
    2017/04/27

    Bipartisan opposition to further regulation is best served by attributing the giant rabbits’ cargo hold death to Fred Singer’s service as Chief Scientist of the Department of Transportation.

  59. #60 Chris
    2017/04/27

    This is incredibly silly :) I wrote a couple of long posts on the ATTP thread including the one containing the part sentence that has offered this display of contrived (I hope!) indignation.

    I was really trying too get you to say something specific about what regulations you considered were a problem William…. and for whom. I choose a range from the extreme (children in mines!) to what might be considered less controversial regulatory circumstances.

    Regulation is important although obviously it should be considered in the context of the contemporary setting. After all it wasn’t until the UK Mines and Collieries act of 1842, that children (and women) under 10 were prohibited from working underground in mines. That seems like a pretty good regulation to me although I am speaking with the benefit of a modern perspective.

  60. #61 dave s
    2017/04/27

    Regulations provide the modern framework for successful trade and commerce, you’d have to go a long way back to get an age before guilds and laws set quality standards.

    A classic right wing attempt to remove regulation was the Thatcher administration’s removal of the Building Regulations, a small volume with lots of useful “deemed to satisfy” tables which saved having to calculate simple structures, and minimum areas for houses, with regulations as a very short pamphlet.
    Which said buildings were to comply with a code of practice, much larger and more expensive than the old regs, giving less useful guidance and replacing house space standards with diagrams of the bare room needed to swing a cat.

    Still regulations, but excitingly houses could now be considerably smaller, giving purchasers much more choice! A trend which has continued.

  61. #62 dave s
    2017/04/27

    oops, meant to say replacement of the Building Regulations.. small volume….. with regulations as a very short pamphlet + the large “code of practice”.

    Should probably be quality controls to ban posting too late at night.

    [I’m not familiar with the example, but it sounds like T was right. Private people should be able to build houses for sale to other private people as they like. There is no reason for the govt to intervene -W]

  62. #63 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/04/27

    “The two sides are quite different of course: the left is right about the science, when it comes to GW; but hopelessly illiterate when it comes to economics.”

    We seem to disagree on the clue factor for the right wing and economics.

    Perhaps it would be more fruitful to discuss GW.

    Personally, as a centrist, I’d accept a wide range of policies, with the sole qualification that the policy needs to work. Yes, even a carbon tax. I’d wish you might accept more approaches to the problem, but if all we have is a hammer, we will need to hammer in the screws.

    What will it take to change the right’s opinion about GW?

    [Fewer comments like the one just below, #64? An acceptance that not every problem should be solved by more regulation? Actual full support for a carbon tax? “the right” doesn’t trust you, for reasons that I have tried and failed to explain in this post and elsewhere. That you fail to even understand the problem is part of the problem: Sun-Tzu again -W]

    I’m not seeing any movement, not even a hint of a movement. Sure, some old politicians back from the days when the GOP was sane proposed a carbon tax. But the real GOP today does not and will not accept anything like this.

    [Indeed. I was going to point you at http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2017/02/15/the-conservative-case-for-carbon-dividends/. So “no hint of a movement” is wrong -W]

    The longer we wait the more expensive the problem gets.

  63. #64 Steve Bloom
    SF Bay ARea
    2017/04/28

    Government? Nah. It’s all about a dislike of checks on greed.

    Must be the job.

  64. #65 Russell
    A city of 140,000, with almost as many byelaws
    2017/04/28

    Chris , it is tempting to say any regulation as crisply described and universally compelling as your example should be allowed, but regulators are even more frenzied turf builders than the legisators who supposedly represent us.

    Those un-elected souls who tend to get paid by the word have been adding tens of thousands of pages a year to the list of things ignorance of which is no defense.

    This tends to make voters fire those they hold responsible for regulatory mission creep, many of whom are creeps to begin with. And that’s how Trumps get elected

  65. #66 Marco
    2017/04/28

    “It isn’t clear to me that a child is better off for being in school, rather than making oodles of money from acting and being tutored. It also isn’t clear to me that outside Moral forces should make that choice for them. it just doesn’t seem to be necessary ”

    Good, so the child makes oodles of money (well, most will not)…for their parents. And then the child gets tutored…well, actually, it will be tutored at least in part because that’s mandatory, and part of child labour laws (oh, oops).

    But indeed, maybe the child does not need to have any schooling. Of course, if the child has good parents, he will indeed have been schooled and will be able to be a part of normal society after his career ends (and for many that will be in their early- to mid-teens). Others won’t, and not just because they have not had much schooling: there are quite a lot who end up addicted to drugs and alcohol, because they cannot handle all the pressure. Now imagine a situation where regulations are gone.

    That said, no comment on all those other jobs I mentioned that also in our Western society can easily be done by children, and may well be if child labour laws were not in existence?

  66. #67 verytallguy
    2017/04/28

    […Private people should be able to build houses for sale to other private people as they like. There is no reason for the govt to intervene -W]

    Yes, there is very good reason.

    1. Without BRs there is an information mismatch – it allows buyers to be deceived, thereby undermining proper operation of a free market. Buyers cannot readily examine foundations, but enforcement of a building code assures they are of good standard.

    2. There are externalities with, just for instance, poor insulation leading to higher carbon emissions over the lifetime of the building.

    This is simple, basic economics you don’t seem to have any grasp of.

  67. #68 Chris
    2017/04/28

    That’s an interesting perspective Russell (that Trump got elected because of “regulatory mission creep”). I haven’t lived in the US for quite a while, but that doesn’t ring true to me.

    I would have thought some of the drivers for Trump’s election relate more to economic hardships and disparities amongst a large proportion of the electorate (see e.g. the paper by Chetty et al in today’s Science “The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940”; Science 356, 398), populist tactics of demonisation (Mexican immigrants, spectres abroad, and opponents at home) and appeals to a glorious recent past that might be revisited if only we bellow loudly enough about drawing round the wagons and disengaging from collective efforts worldwide (“Make America Great Again”).

    This is going on in a somewhat related manner in the UK (withdraw from the EU; demonise immigrants; appeal to a great and self-sufficient past) although typically we’re not as outspoken about it as in the US – Brexit does show that we can still make gloriously self-defeating decisions tho!

    The “anti-science” thing is more about the “demonising one’s opponents” part of that (in the US) I think, as well as ensuring support of agendas (industrial, religious, sociopolitical) whose interests are threatened by scientific findings. In the UK things are a little different and we could discuss why.

    I gave my two-pence worth on this here (I managed to write these without mentioning children in mines!):

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/the-war-on-science-not/#comment-94652

    and here:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/the-war-on-science-not/#comment-94670

  68. #69 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/04/28

    “So “no hint of a movement” is wrong -W”

    As I pointed out, the direction of movement for the right is away from a carbon tax, at least in the USA. The conservative-case-for-carbon-dividends is from the past of the GOP, from people that no longer represent the current state of the GOP. I do wish them well, but they have zero support from anyone in the mainstream of the GOP. The GOP is no longer old line conservatives.

    The nature of the right in the USA has changed a lot over my lifetime. The GOP is no longer the party of business and science.

    “An acceptance that not every problem should be solved by more regulation?”

    The regulations establishing a system of units and measures makes markets a lot more efficient.

    [But this is the std.silliness. Flipping from all to nothing. How many times do I need to say that no-one is proposing abolishing all regulations before you’ll stop making these pointless strawman argument? All you’re doing is disrupting the conversation, throwing up squid ink. Why? -W]

    Wanting to buy a kilogram of something is a lot easier than trying to figure out exactly what the package holds some other way, like bringing your own scale to the food market. Agree? If so, then we might discuss when regulations make sense, and when they don’t. Regulations establishing weights and measures make markets work better. As do regulations defining the difference between a class 1 and a class 2 banana. As do building regulations. Blind anti-regulation orthodoxy isn’t helpful.

    If you want efficient markets, then you want regulations that make the markets work well.

    “Actual full support for a carbon tax?”

    You mean like signing the petition to get a carbon tax on the ballot, donating money, and voting for a carbon tax? Even though closer analysis showed the details of said carbon tax were very badly flawed? What more do you want from me?

    [I wasn’t talking about you personally -W]

  69. #70 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/04/28

    So some regulations are acceptable for reducing CO2?

    If yes, then is the USA’s “Energy Star” regulations something you might support?

    This is a voluntary regulation: the government publishes what a manufacturer would need meet in terms of energy use to be allowed to put the Energy Star service mark label on the product. If the manufacturer doesn’t want to, they can still sell the product, they just can’t put the Energy Star on the product. As a consumer, I don’t need to be an expert on appliance energy usage, I can just look for the Energy Star. This is a way of making markets work better. If a reasonable fraction of consumers look for the Energy Star, and they do, the manufacturers will want to meet the standard.

    As a voluntary program, it has suffered some by fraud: some manufacturers would claim that they pass the standard, but they actually didn’t. The government mostly doesn’t verify compliance, but leaves that to outside organizations. Some of the cheaters have got caught and repented, some have been caught, sued and then repented. Fraud charges could apply, but I couldn’t find any such court cases. The USA spends a very modest amount of money setting up the standard, and the world benefits. Around $60 million per year. Ok, actually the service mark is registered in Australia, Canada, European Union, Japan, New Zealand, and Taiwan. Not quite whole world. Post Brexit England?

    Trump wants to kill Energy Star, as the USA pays and people outside the USA gain. Unless Europe pays for it. Or was that something he wanted Mexico to pay for…There is some talk about trying to make it a private service mark, much like UL, if Trump kills it. It would be fairly cheap to set up and run. Saves customers about $30 billion a year in energy costs, several percent of CO2 emissions.

    [ES sounds reasonable. As you point out, it is voluntary. If you want to fight against a more reasoned argument against regulation, try the Economist article I added to the refs -W]

  70. #71 Russell Seitz
    Cambridge MA
    2017/04/28

    Chris
    While large and lawyered-up corporations can deal with unbridled regulation , the growth of the Federal Register decimates small businesses and alienates voters who loose their jobs in consequence- when a rust belt car wash gets closed down because an EPA mass spec counts several molecules of benzene in its run-off, those who lose their window washing jobs have good cause to vote against the Agency’s boosters.

  71. #72 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/04/28

    You accept the Chinese hoax of Global W, the excessive regulation of Energy Star and call for a carbon tax?

    You are no Republican.

  72. #73 The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse
    2017/04/28

    I must have not seen all those “End Regulatory Mission Creep” T-shirts because they were blocked by all the “No More Gerrymandering” signs and “Reform The Electoral College” banners…

    As a mere Canadian, I can only stand in awe of the recent tsunami of Yankee performance art that seeks to depict the ascendency of Trump as the consequence of rational deliberations.

    And really – Who doesn’t like a bit of benzene in their water supply?

    Since the “rust belt” itself exists as a monument to the modern transnational portability of production, we should explain: “That’s not the taste of a carcinogen – That’s the taste of ‘Make America Great Again!'”

  73. #74 izen
    2017/04/28

    @-“If you want to fight against a more reasoned argument against regulation, try the Economist article I added to the refs -W”

    The Economist advocating deregulation reads as a self assessment that (sorprise sorprise!) results in a very positive framing of their position. It is not a very deep perspective of the issues.

    One polemical shibboleth is the idea that the Right wing is ANTI-regulation, and the Left wing is PRO-legislation. That is only arguable if you have a very restrictive definition of ‘legislation’. There are many examples of RW enthusiasm for legislation, and LW campaign against legislation.

    The claim that the RW is against regulation is only supportable if the definition restricts to that legislation which is re-distributive. The most obvious example is the dislike of taxation.
    The RW is often in favour of regulation that is normative, or better imposes constraints on re-distributive processes or changes in social mobility.

    I have already given an example of what might be called LW opposition to regulation in the US civil rights movement. Removing the Jim Crow laws was a major social campaign AGAINST State Government regulation. Regulation that was supported by the majority population as well as strong economic interests.

    Regulation emerges as an inherent quality of complex social systems. If it doesn’t, then the social system does not stay complex for long. It is neither the anathema of the Right nor the holy grail of the left. Just the inevitable logistics of how the wealth and power in that society is managed.

    I must admit to a lack of imagination these days, when faced with abstract discussion of concepts (regulation, freedom, liberty) I find I want a credible working extant or historical example of the idea discussed.
    A working society that has the least government that imposes the most minimal regulation would be a good backing for any claims about the advantages of such a political approach.
    If an example existed.

  74. #75 rconnor
    2017/04/28

    WC,

    > “If you want to fight against a more reasoned argument against regulation, try the Economist article I added to the refs”

    The author doesn’t argue against regulation but against overly complex regulation. See, for example, the Dodd-Frank example – the author seems to agree with its necessity, in some form, but only argues against its complexity, in its current form. But “WE NEED SMART, SIMPLE* REGULATIONS!”, which the article ends on, is such a vapid truism. Of course we do! No one disagrees with that! (*a small caveat – simpler doesn’t always mean better but Occam’s razor applies) But how do we achieve that? The author offers nothing to answer that, nor do you.

    His suggestion of independent assessments and expiration dates on regulations may (debatably) lead to better regulations but they certainly add their own cost and complexity to the process. Furthermore, the latter would make it very difficult on industry as regulations would constantly be in a state of flux. More importantly, neither of them address the author’s core issue of the complexity of a regulation – an auditor or re-assessment period don’t make regulations simpler.

    Here’s the issue – regulations are never perfect. There will always be loopholes and unintended consequences. Sometimes there is a trade-off between simplicity and accuracy. But at the same time, without regulations the situation can be much worse. The question becomes – is the absence of any regulation (on a particular thing) better or worse than imperfect regulations?

    You can’t answer this by playing the regulation(/mitigation) “skeptics” three step game plan of (1) hyperbolizing the negatives of the regulation, (2) ignoring the benefits of the regulation and (3) ignoring the damages that will occur in absence of the regulation; rather, you have to honestly examine the positives and negatives of the regulation and the damages in absence of the control. Thus far, you seem incapable or unwilling to do so (ex. bent bananas).

    And that has to be done on a case-by-case basis. The concept that “more regulation is bad” is stupid – the only correct response is “ummm, not necessarily. It depends on what the regulation is.” The inverse, “less regulation is good”, is equally stupid. The concept “more good regulation and less bad regulation is good” is a useless statement (hence why the article was pointless).

    As Izen points outs, “Regulation emerges as an inherent quality of complex social systems…It is neither the anathema of the Right nor the holy grail of the left. Just the inevitable logistics of how the wealth and power in that society is managed.” (very well put Izen!) As such, they should not be categorically rejected or accepted but must be evaluated on their own merits and faults.

  75. #76 Mal Adapted
    Northwest of Pecos
    2017/04/28

    Izen:

    In most mature Western democracies the corporate rich long since gained regulatory capture.

    Yes, for far longer than there have been mature Western democracies. It’s simply good business to externalize as much of your production costs as you can get away with. Any pushback from the external payers can be at least co-opted, to minimize its impact on your net.

    This is the best argument IMHO against regulation to reduce externalities: it won’t accomplish its ostensible goals because it will inevitably be “gamed”, so the externalized costs it’s aimed at are merely re-socialized by passage through red tape.

    When a lower-bound estimate of marginal externalized costs is available, taxes (including tax credits) nudge the Invisible Hand more directly; and the closer to the source of the dis-economy, the more subtle the nudge can be. Taxes can be gamed too, though, as long as no one’s paying attention. Corn ethanol, anyone?

    It’s more accurate to say that anything that can be gamed, will be gamed. KISS! The more dependent clauses any collective intervention in the energy market has, the more opportunities for graft, and the lower its chances for success.

    To me, a primary appeal of CF&D with Border Adjustment in its simplest version is its simplicity. Much of the bureaucratic apparatus for collecting it is already in place for excise taxes and import duties, which also streamlines collection of the BA; and the path between the fee or BA collection point and the dividend check can be audited to ensure $revenue = $dividend X number of dividend checks. The effect on fossil carbon emissions can trivially be tracked by the fee receipts. Some modifications to basic CF&D may be desirable, but KISS!

  76. #77 angech
    2017/04/28

    One could always let one’s hair grow longer*

    Why?
    A heartfelt cry.
    The thought of any reduction in regulation seems to produce a feeling of he is taking all my rights away from me rather than he is removing some of my restrictions from me (actually giving some rights back).
    Why?
    Regulations are the means of preventing global warming. If you advocate for any reduction in regulations you become evil.
    Just like a person putting children in mines , for example.

    The fact that some regulations are obsolete, ineffective , counter productive or excessive and should be removed is an obstacle to imposing the right regulations now.

  77. #78 See Noevo
    2017/04/28

    Sounds about right.

  78. #79 David B. Benson
    southeastern Washington state
    2017/04/29

    Ah, its not only hairdressers who must obtain licenses for reasons of public health, but also servers in bars and restaurants:
    http://lcb.wa.gov/mastrvp/mandatory_alcohol_server_training

    Why is that,do you suppose?

  79. #80 bill h
    UK
    2017/04/29

    [Over recent decades, due to globalisation, the world’s poor have got massively richer. See the Branko Milanovic curve; e.g. at http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21707219-charting-globalisations-discontents-shooting-elephant -W]
    William, despite a scientific training at one of the world’s top universities,

    [I most certainly did not. I studied mathematics, which is an art -W]

    you are still confusing correlation and causality.Yes, economic globalisation may well be a major factor in improved living standards, but you don’t get it from the graph, even if the graph happens to be published in The Economist.

  80. #81 Marco
    2017/04/29

    “The thought of any reduction in regulation seems to produce a feeling of he is taking all my rights away from me rather than he is removing some of my restrictions from me (actually giving some rights back).
    Why?”

    What you seem to think people think, may not be what people think, angech. Many people consider that regulations are (sadly!) necessary to create an orderly and safe society. If only all people were rational, law-abiding citizens, we’d very likely need very little regulation. But reality shows this isn’t the case.

    There is no doubt there are regulations that are obsolete, ineffective, counter-productive, or excessive. But taking away regulations just to take away regulations is not good policy. Handwaving away any objections isn’t either.

    For example, it is *possible* that Uber and the like show that the old taxi regulations are no longer necessary. However, the highly variable experiences with the effects of removing taxi regulations in many different countries indicate that you’d better think about it very, very carefully. Seattle tried it for 4 years in the 1980s. It was a total disaster, and the deregulation rolled back.

    [{{cn}}. https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/1983/12/v7n6-6.pdf suggests your characterisation isn’t entirely accurate -W]

    Japan hasn’t seen much positive effects either from its deregulation in 2002, among others taxi drivers earned less and had to work much more (note: we’re talking Japan here, which already sees crazy work hours) than before, and thus tightened controls again. In Sweden, the effect of deregulation has been both positive and negative. Waiting times have gotten much shorter, but prices have increased far faster than the consumer price index.
    I am sure deregulation proponents will argue that all this is because there wasn’t enough deregulation, because that’s the usual cop-out when something doesn’t work as intended: it must then have been done the wrong way.

    I repeat: deregulation just for the sake of deregulation isn’t good policy.

  81. […] has prompted some of the more extended series of comments on a variety of […]

  82. #83 Marco
    2017/04/29

    “suggests your characterisation isn’t entirely accurate”

    The American Enterprise Institute’s journal says my characterisation isn’t entirely accurate?
    http://www.taxi-library.org/seattle-dereg-rereg-2001.pdf

    As it notes:

    “Seattle’s experience with taxicab deregulation was very similar to that of most other cities. One study examined more than 20 U.S. cities that deregulated taxicab entry or rates or both prior to 1983 and summarized the results as follows:

    1. A significant increase in new entry;
    2. A decline in operational efficiency and productivity;
    3. An increase in highway congestion, energy consumption and environmental Pollution;
    4. An increase in rates;
    5. A decline in driver income;
    6. A deterioration in service; and
    7. Little or no improvement in administrative costs.34

    According to the author of this study, the expected benefits of deregulation – especially lower rates and faster service response times – never materialized because the taxicab industry, “fails to reflect the perfect competition model described in micro-economic textbooks.”35 ”

    [fails to reflect the perfect competition model described in micro-economic textbooks sounds to me a near-perfect tag for “the writer does not understand economics”. In this case, yes, your own now-provided reference doesn’t support your initial characterisation. And no, I don’t think the Seattle city regulators are unbiased, any more than the AEI is -W]

  83. #84 Russell the Stout
    From Latin regula
    2017/04/29

    Which is less expensive, the regulation or, in its absence, the cost of adjudicating every tort arising from the damages it addresses?

    Are some regulations complex because of schemers’ and their lawyers & accountants eternal attempts to cheat and weasel out (gulp) of the original, simpler regulations?

    [I’ve been away for a few days; but I’m back now.

    You have discovered the obvious: that regulation leads to more regulation, and the interested parties from left, right, indeed quite irrespective of their politics have an interest in writing regulation; aka co-opting the power of the state to their particular cause. The temptation to “make the world better” is always there; and obviously you as a good person know how to make the world better, and obviously rather than the long slow tedious business of convincing the public to your cause, a more efficient shortcut is to force the public to your cause. And if they disagree with the regulation that you, a good person, wrote: why then they must be bad. How could it be otherwise? -W]

  84. #85 izen
    2017/04/29

    A look inside the sausage factory…

    http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/periods/tudors/elizabethan-social-and-economic-legislation

    “Social and economic legislation occupied a great deal of time in Elizabethan Parliaments…. Hundreds of bills were initiated concerning industries such as the manufacture and trade of cloth, leather, and iron; poverty, unemployment and vagrancy; agrarian regulation of land use especially for grain and timber; and the enforcement of morally acceptable behaviour. While some such measures were official in origin, many others arose from particular local issues or were promoted by interested parties, especially companies and corporations, who lobbied for advantageous changes to the law.”

    Delve a little deeper into Elizabethan regulatory governance and you find in the early years at court many aristocrats became rich and powerful by sponsoring regulation proposed by the merchant guilds and landowner who desired to exploit the growing level of trade and commerce. Or regulations intended to control the social disruption and harms the new economy was bringing. English society started to leave behind feudal serfdom with local warlords and developed much more internal, and expanding external trade.

    However a few years later and the complaint went up that all the regulation so welcomed before was now an impediment to certain trades and interests. Lord at court became rich and powerful by sponsoring the repeal of regulations.

    A classic example were the sumptory laws that had regulated what clothes all the new rich traders could wear. The intention was to prevent conspicuous consumption that might allow a mere merchant to look richer than a Lord.
    The milliner and haberdashery guilds found this restricted the sale of all the new. expensive, foreign garments now available so the regulations had to go…

    Later the pendulum swung back again as new trades and new opportunities created new advantages and threats.

  85. #86 Hank Roberts
    and follow the links
    2017/04/29

    Hmmm …. (Koch, Koch …)

    https://www.google.com/search?q=how+trustworthy+is+cato.org?

    PDF]Reflections on Trusting Trust – CMU (ECE)
    https://www.ece.cmu.edu/~ganger/712.fall02/papers/p761-thompson.pdf
    by KEN THOMPSON – ‎1984 – ‎Cited by 729
    To what extent should one trust a statement that a program is free of Trojan horses? Perhaps it is more important to trust the people …

  86. #87 Russell
    Downwind of the Kennedy School
    2017/04/29

    Those whose indignation focuses on the revolving doors of the Pentagon & The White House should note that just as lawyers drum up ever more legal business by becoming legislatores and passing laws, all too many academic schools of government and centers for the environment serve as Business Schools for wannabe Federal Regulators whose employment prospects , like those of environmental lawyering, would culminate were the EPA elevated into a Department of Government.

    These are great days for the revolving door business !

    Is preemptive disbarment for life too much to ask of the public-spirited lawyers who aspire to our legislatures?

  87. #88 Ken Fabian
    2017/04/29

    The banana example looks to me as predictable as the children in mines. I think it’s interesting and ironic in this context that consistency of product appearance through grading standards probably arose as something the large retailers of fresh foods sought, rather than something imposed by a blind “left” influenced bureaucracy.

    [If you have just discovered that Big Business is as likely as The Left to write regulation to it’s own interests when it can, then welcome to the real world -W]

  88. #89 CIP
    United States
    2017/04/30

    >>the left is right about the science, when it comes to GW; but hopelessly illiterate when it comes to economics.

    Maybe in the UK, where you actually have a socialist left. Utter nonsense if you think it applies in the US. Here evolution, geology, and cosmology as well as climate science are right wing targets, and the right is the master of voodoo economics, and completely in the thrall of discredited pseudo science, like the supply side nonsense you seem to be fond of.

    [I’m afraid I don’t even know what supply-side is -W]

  89. #90 izen
    2017/04/30

    @-Ken Fabian; re- bendy banana regs.
    “I think it’s interesting and ironic in this context that consistency of product appearance through grading standards probably arose as something the large retailers of fresh foods sought, rather than something imposed by a blind “left” influenced bureaucracy.”

    IIRC at the time the suspicion was that this was just the public expression (Sun performance art) of an internal conflict between UK and EU regulators that the UK lost. The banana grading was intended to prevent the UK from becoming a gateway for cheap bananas from its past colonial assets (Caribbean) from undercutting the bananas from the Spanish past colonial regions in S America.

  90. #91 Hank Roberts
    and follow the links
    2017/04/30

    Another example for the precautionary principle file: two superficially harmless chemicals that combine — in the body — to make insoluble crystals:
    https://www.chem.tamu.edu/rgroup/hilty/img/melamine.pdf
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070501105514.htm

    Feeling sick? Call an ‘ibertarian lawyer ….

  91. #92 dave s
    2017/04/30

    On those building regs, the main point is that Mrs. T superficially simplified the regs, but making them larger and more complex at the same time as shifting the complexity into a “code of practice” rather than keeping it conveniently to hand in the regulations booklet.

    There were still regulations about space standards in houses, but they introduced new loopholes allowing smaller homes. Or, as we used to call them, slums.

    Building regulations predate capitalism – in the 12th century, they required stone London houses for fire safety, and in the 15th century wooden chimneys were outlawed. Pleasingly, in 1698 buildings in Edinburgh were restricted to five storeys, distressing purchasers who wanted to walk up more storeys..
    http://www.fire.org.uk/history-of-fire-safety.html

    @Izen #90, my recollection was that bendy South American bananas were resisted by the Traditional British Banana importers, who got larger and straighter bananas from The Empire.
    Irrelevant to the EU regulation, which merely restricted classification of grossly misshapen bananas, and left precise curvature to national regulation.

  92. #93 Hank Roberts
    except when he's wrong, of course
    2017/04/30

    https://theintercept.com/2017/04/28/how-a-professional-climate-change-denier-discovered-the-lies-and-decided-to-fight-for-science/

    Cato? Piffle.

    “…. Jerry Taylor, whose job as president of the Niskanen Center involves turning climate skeptics into climate activists.

    It might seem like an impossible transition, except that Taylor, who used to be staff director for the energy and environment task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and vice president of the Cato Institute, made it himself….”

  93. #94 Hank Roberts
    2017/05/01

    Shorter: Cato and ALEC managers, who believe that any “science” argument is actually part of a political conspiracy, make up fake science claims leaning on the side of their own political views. Jerry Taylor checked the science claims that he had been repeating in public argument, and found them bogus.

  94. #95 Kevin Thomas O'Neill
    United States
    2017/05/01

    WC writes: [Sigh. This is WUWT level thinking. No, I don’t oppose *all* regulation. As I’ve said before. But you don’t listen, you prefer your strawman -W]

    Actually it’s you who can’t read. …. hence the ‘no true Scotsman’ reference. I predicted you would make this defense and you did.

    To date I’ve seen you actually point to two regulations — and both are fails – on your part. ‘Bendy Bananas’ you seem to have bought into the right-wing myth and ignored reality. Hairdressers you appear to just be ignorant of the safety concerns.

    And even though I stated there are alternatives to regulations to account for the externalities I also pointed out that the people who scream about regulations are NOT proposing any alternatives — they just want a free ride. You NEVER answered that argument in the general (i.e., is the GOP offering any plan to cover the externalities from the regulations being removed?
    No.) and you refused to answer it in the specific (alternative to regulating hairdresser) that will similarly cover the cost of externalities. Again, it seems you’re simply endorsing free-riders. But that’s no surprise because that’;s always been at the heart of libertarianism.

    Given that there’s a salon on every block near me it must really be an onerous regulation /sarc.

  95. #96 dave s
    2017/05/01

    @ izen #90, the banana dispute I recalled is over [[Lomé Convention]] IV in 1993 when the “Caribbean’s many smallholder banana farmers argued for the continuation of their preferential access to traditional markets, notably the United Kingdom.[1] They feared that otherwise the EU would be flooded with cheap bananas from the Central American plantations, with devastating effects on several Caribbean economies.”
    The EU agreed with the UK (hurrah for the EU!) but “In 1995, the United States government petitioned to the World Trade Organisation” which ruled against the Lomé Convention (boo!! undermining traditional Big British Bananas).

    Somehow, if izen is right, the Sun translated this into the EU stopping us from getting those tasty wee curly Belize Bananas. As the local proverb has it, do they think we came up the Clyde in a banana boat?

  96. #97 izen
    2017/05/01

    @- dave s
    Thanks for the actual details on the bendy banana stuff. As the host has observed by perspective is shallow on these things.

    So it was an internal fight, but the US was the bad guy?!

    I also seem to effoniously remember that as a cloned monoculture the banana was in danger of extinction or something… probably a greater threat than conflicts over where it is financially viable to grow them.

  97. #98 dave s
    2017/05/01

    @ izen #97, who was good and bad is a matter of sentiment or ideology.

    To clarify what I wrote, the UK had a longstanding deal favouring Caribbean banana producers such as Jamaica, in the 1993 Lomé Convention IV the EU included support for this UK deal.
    In 1995 the US took the Convention to the WTO, which ruled that in favouring African, Caribbean & Pacific States, the Convention was a subsidy against WTO rules.

    Win for unsubsidised free markets, lose for the British Commonwealth countries and more small curly bananas from South American countries such as Belize on UK supermarket shelves.
    Thus, obviously, right wing British tabloids would blame the EU.

  98. #99 matt
    2017/05/01

    > [Because they aren’t in the West -W]

    They are.

    US
    https://news.vice.com/article/child-workers-are-getting-nicotine-poisoning-on-us-tobacco-farms

    UK
    “There are at least 5,000 child sex workers in the UK, most trafficked into the country. ”
    https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/modern-slavery-united-kingdom

    [That’s not what is usually considered “labour”. Nor is it at all clear that your quote is reliable. Did you attempt any verification, or did you merely seize upon something that supported what you wanted to say anyway? -W]

  99. #100 Hank Roberts
    2017/05/01

    “… new [NYT] op-ed column by former Wall Street Journal writer Bret Stephens. On Friday, … published “Climate of Complete Certainty,” a dreadfully argued piece contending that … well, the point is buried in false starts, bogus reasoning and imprecise writing.

    May it suffice to say, however, that the many, many people who care passionately for the planet found it an exercise in climate-change denialism, even though Stephens argues that it’s a real, documented thing….”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2017/04/30/new-york-times-editor-pens-weak-vague-response-to-critics-of-bret-stephenss-op-ed-on-climate-change/

  100. #101 Ken Fabian
    2017/05/01

    Mm. I’d be surprised if large retailers had no say in banana appearance standards – here in Australia the supermarket chains don’t like bananas too large so those don’t get graded as “A”..So it was less about retailer desires and more about nationalism in the EU case was it? But was it leftist nationalism??

    There is regulation such as product standardisation that will be more about what large commercial interests actually want and there is regulation that imposes the responsible behaviour that has not been adopted voluntarily. Then there is the regulation that serves little or no real function. It’s a common practice in opposing the regulations that serve a real need – climate responsibility for example – to bring up examples of regulations that serve none and assert they are much the same.

    In any case it’s kind of a distraction from the assertion that opposition to climate action is principally because of dislike of government and/or regulation. Sort of it is but sort of isn’t too. Certainly it can get dressed up like that but I think the libertarian anti-government ideology post dates dislike of regulation. Invoking the too much regulation objection comes with a kind of political home advantage, as anyone engaging in any project or enterprise encountering regs and requirements won’t like it, yet those regulation often impose the responsibility that comes with those activities but is not practiced willingly. Like dumping toxic liquid waste into drains, because the bottom line is “better” by the avoidance of the costs of waste management.

    I suppose Common Law would cover a lot of irresponsible practices but it doesn’t always work well – and only for those with the financial resources to use it. Yet precedents under Common Law often form the basis of specific regulations. Climate, by spreading the responsibility so widely and diffusely – and over multi-generations – is not easily dealt with by common law remedies.

    No, I think it’s not a government avoidance exercise, it’s a responsibility (and thereby, cost) avoidance exercise – an exercise that uses the discrediting of the knowledge based foundations that climate responsibility is built on to provide a legitimate seeming justification.

  101. #102 Russell the Stout
    Word salad dressing aisle
    2017/05/02

    I had two points. The first was that if legal proceeding is less expensive than regulation, then the regulation likely can be dispensed with. The lice-transmitting hair dresser might qualify.

    The second had to do with complexity. I suggested that the regultators may not bear the moral blame for the complexity. I will easily grant that that might be irrelevant.

  102. #103 matt
    2017/05/02

    @W,

    I merely seized upon something that supported what I wanted to say. I do not think the quantity (unless it’s 0) affects my argument – child labour exists in the West. But happy to ignore 2nd link completely.

    [If your argument is that at leas ton e child worker exists in the West, then I agree. But I think that is uninteresting, for the obvious reasons -W]

    What about the first (tobacco farming)? Are you arguing that it exists, but the numbers are not high enough to warrant regulations on the use of child labour?

    [I think so; I can’t claim to be particularly familiar with the situation. I notice that the HRW report, which the Vice report seems to be based on, is rather coy about the immigration status of those doing the work -W]

    Doesn’t this example also contradict ” it took no training to make a child do something economically valuable. That is no longer true; you need a whole pile of training to be worth anything”.

    [I accept that there is at least one child doing economically valuable work in the West. I disagree that this makes an obvious case for regulation -W]

  103. #104 David B. Benson
    southeastern Washington state
    2017/05/02

    In case William is keeping track of examples of regulatory overreach:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/30/business/traffic-light-fine.html

    Hope that the protagonist wins his court case.

  104. #105 Hank Roberts
    except when he's wrong, of course
    2017/05/02
  105. #106 Hank Roberts
    except when he's wrong, of course
    2017/05/02

    Slave labor mentioned in this story on Amazon soybean plantations
    _____excerpt follows______link at end_______

    … the Amazon Soy Moratorium (ASM), the first major voluntary zero-deforestation agreement achieved in the tropics. In the pact, 90 percent of companies in the Brazilian soy market agreed not to purchase soy grown on land deforested after 2006 within the Amazon biome, and also to blacklist farmers using slave labor.

    […] The question today: has the ASM truly played a key role in stemming Amazon deforestation, and was it ever designed to achieve that result? Or has it largely served as an industry PR tool that distracts global consumers from the environmental and social harm being done by large-scale Brazilian soy plantations?

    [2]https://news.mongabay.com/2017/03/amazon-soy-moratorium-defeating-deforestation-or-greenwash-diversion/

  106. #107 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk, again
    2017/05/02
  107. #108 Hank Roberts
    2017/05/02

    So what’s the point of keeping the grid up through a solar storm, when the ‘ibertarian answer is to sue them after it fries?

    Of course, you can’t sue the Sun ….

  108. #109 Li D
    Australia
    2017/05/02

    #12
    “…as analytically impoverished… ”
    Hahahahahaha

  109. #110 Hank Roberts
    Lost in a browse
    2017/05/03

    “… it goes back to this split between the fundamentalists and the modernists [that took place in the early 20th century]. Fundamentalists said, essentially, you can’t improve the society — what you can do is convert people one by one, and that will improve the society — whereas the modernists, which are now the mainline denominations, believed in social justice and in the regulation of institutions, economic institutions and governmental institutions, as well as the conversion of individual.”

    — from, er, somewhere

  110. […] Anyway, what of the bloody text itself? It starts very badly, with “Decision scientists” but we must try not to laugh. The next silliness is not to mention the most recent US presidential campaign, which resulted in the victory of a candidate who has declared climate change a hoax. Trump has said any number of things he doesn’t take seriously. Taking them all seriously is foolish. Why hasn’t the new ‘science of science communication’, achieved more? Because it’s a load of toss, probably. The greatest enemy of effective science communication is the tyranny of the plausible. Oh, bullshit. The greatest enemy is the failure to understand the people you’re trying to talk to. […]

  111. #112 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/05/08

    “The industry is self-regulated, without government oversight.”

    And clogging sewer systems worldwide.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/10/are-wet-wipes-wrecking-the-worlds-sewers/504098/

  112. #113 Mal Adapted
    The bully('s) pulpit
    2017/05/08

    Hank Roberts:

    — from, er, somewhere

    George F. Will’s quote boy probably wouldn’t help you, Hank, but I will even though I suspect you don’t actually need it. Because that’s just the kind of guy I am.

    Your quote is from an NPR interview with Frances FitzGerald, author of The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America.

  113. #114 Mal Adapted
    still there
    2017/05/08

    Also, if you haven’t already, you’ll probably find the The New Evangelical Moral Minority interesting and up to the usual high New Yorker standard.

  114. #115 Hank Roberts
    and follow the links
    2017/05/10

    What became of that fully informed person in free markets?
    He’s been profiled:
    ——————
    “…
    “I don’t think anyone could have predicted how sophisticated these algorithms have become,” says Robert Dolan, a marketing professor at Harvard. “I certainly didn’t.” The price of a can of soda in a vending machine can now vary with the temperature outside. The price of the headphones Google recommends may depend on how budget-conscious your web history shows you to be, one study found. For shoppers, that means price—not the one offered to you right now, but the one offered to you 20 minutes from now, or the one offered to me, or to your neighbor—may become an increasingly unknowable thing. “Many moons ago, there used to be one price for something,” Dolan notes. Now the simplest of questions—what’s the true price of pumpkin-pie spice?—is subject to a Heisenberg level of uncertainty.

    “Which raises a bigger question: Could the internet, whose transparency was supposed to empower consumers, be doing the opposite?

    “If the marketplace was a war between buyers and sellers, the 19th-century French sociologist Gabriel Tarde wrote, then price was a truce. And the practice of setting a fixed price for a good or a service—which took hold in the 1860s—meant, in effect, a cessation of the perpetual state of hostility known as haggling….”
    ———————-
    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/05/how-online-shopping-makes-suckers-of-us-all/521448/

    [Timmy wrote about this a few weeks back. We don’t return to haggling, obviously, but what does or might happen is the vendor being able to capture more of the difference between the price you’re prepared to pay as an individual, and the price that they the seller are obliged to offer in order to hit the general market -W]

  115. #116 Hank Roberts
    except when he's wrong, of course
    2017/05/10

    From my recent experiences, what we return to is bait-and-switch (take the money and fail to deliver a low-priced item). I’ve had that happen from big Chinese sellers like BangGood and GearBest and from the many sources operating under the AliExpress and the “fulfillment from Amazon” umbrellas. Buy at the low price point and it’s funny how often the product was “lost in shipping” or something cheaper, wrong and unwanted shows up in the shipping box. Blame the warehouse people.

    Interesting to read that the same-price-for-everyone approach grew from Quaker religious principle. I’d thought that was an outgrowth of the fair market/equal opportunity/fully informed notion.

  116. #117 Hank Roberts
    except when he's wrong, of course
    2017/05/10

    > wipes
    “… Wyoming, Minnesota, is one of the first American cities to take on the flushable-wet-wipe industry. In 2015, the city filed a class-action suit against Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, Nice-Pak, and three other wet-wipe manufacturers for fraudulently promoting their products as flushable.”

    There ya go, the ‘ibertarian approach at work.

    Apropos that, don’t use Kleenex either.
    Test: put a piece of proper toilet paper in one bowl of water and a piece of Kleenex in another. Check back in a while and see which falls apart and which doesn’t.

  117. #118 Hank Roberts
    except when he's wrong, of course
    2017/05/11

    Or, eh, this piece on pricing that explains:

    “… why Comcast and its buddies are angry with Cable One. By using its own little monopoly to raise prices, it’s exposing the unconstrained power of the entire sector over something that feels like a utility to most Americans. The small company is making the case that the telecom industry needs oversight.

    “That’s why all the smoke and furor about “net neutrality,” all the Verizon statements about “standing by strong open internet principles,” all the Comcast blather about “supporting a free and open internet,” all the Pai nonsense about a “dynamic” internet access market, all the DC Circuit mumbling in dissent about the speech rights of internet access providers, is all completely beside the point.

    “What really matters is whether, someday, we’ll take on as a country the issue of the dismal state of high-speed internet access in America. If the Title II reclassification holds, it’s more likely that we will take that step sooner. And the carriers know that.”

    https://backchannel.com/how-one-little-cable-company-exposed-telecoms-achilles-heel-480e49b648bf

  118. #119 Hank Roberts
    ... brain ... trust ....
    2017/05/15

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/15/donald-trump-fake-news-238379

    K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, had given Trump a printout of two Time magazine covers. One, supposedly from the 1970s, warned of a coming ice age; the other, from 2008, about surviving global warming, according to four White House officials familiar with the matter.

    Trump quickly got lathered up about the media’s hypocrisy. But there was a problem. The 1970s cover was fake, part of an internet hoax that’s circulated for years. Staff chased down the truth and intervened before Trump tweeted or talked publicly about it….