Saturday, December 01, 2007

Why is business support for warming hysteria surprising?

Andrew Sullivan has his issues and he’s always rather sanctimonious regardless of any position he takes. He has been spectacularly wrong before but that doesn’t even cause him pause along the way to his next campaign. I find him so self-satisfied and self-indulgent that when I agree with him I end up rethinking my position on the assumption that such agreement is a good indication that I got something wrong along the way.

One of Sullivan’s pet peeves is “climate change” -- it’s a big issue in the circles where he wants to be worshiped. That Sullivan has not even come close to ever presenting an argument on the issue doesn’t matter.

Often he seems to have some intern just link to something with a bit of the “told-you-so” humility for which he is famous (that is sarcasm). Recently he had a short sentence of two headlined “Capitalists Against Climate Change.” Now the headline itself is absurd but Sullivan is the master of the absurd. Being against climate change is like being against the tides or wanting to make wind illegal. Climates change and even a cursory reading of the history of climate makes that abundantly clear to anyone not drinking deep at the well of sanctimonious “green activism”.

Sullivan's point is “Companies with net worth of over $4 trillion” have signed on to the climate hysteria campaign. No doubt. Anyone who understands economics (Sullivan doesn’t) or history (ditto) will quickly realize that climate hysteria is big business. It is worth trillions of dollars in subsidies, tax rebates, and mandatory products. There are all sorts of big business leaders who make massive sums of money redistributing wealth to themselves through the climate hysteria.

We have touched on this briefly here in the material on ethanol. Agribusiness and Big Energy exploit the slogans of the Sullivans of the world to rip off the world’s poor, drive up food prices and starve the developing world while pocketing billions in subsidies as profit for themselves. The amount of money to be had selling “climate change” snake oil is astounding.

The reason is simple: politics. If climate change were simply an issue people wanted to “do something” about there would be some profit in it but not as much as there is when politicians get involved. Politicians use the panic they help create in order to redistribute wealth to groups that help politicians. So big business gets lots of money. And certain academics rely entirely on the funding to “study” the issue. And the way funding goes, the academics who are in panic mode get lots of state funding, and those who aren’t in a panic get little or none. After all politicians want to solve “problems” and studies that indicate the problem is either not solvable or not a problem strips them of their power. There is no reason to fund that sort of argument.

Any issue government studies is most likely to conclude that there is a problem and that more “study” is necessary. Along with the additional studies they will find it necessary to “address” the issue with more bureaucrats, more agencies, more regulations and more spending. That means more taxes and more power for the state. The inclination of any government agency is to find problems where they don’t exist and to inflate problems that do exist.

Only naive conservatives think big business is out to better the world. They aren’t. They are out to make a profit. In a free market they do that by bettering the world. But in a politicized market they can also do it by catering to politicians and corrupt governments -- in other words they can make everyone, but a few politicians, worse off and still profit from it. They can do it by imposing regulations that hamper competition -- which is the origin of antitrust laws and the like, all pushed through by Big Business and naive progressives. They can do it using the State to line their pockets through the process that economists call “rent seeking”.

What would be truly unusual would be the lack of Big Business support for “climate change” messages. Business and naive progressives have repeatedly joined forces to rip off the little guy. Progressives do it because they are utterly stupid when it comes to economics. Business does it because they find government markets more profitable than competitive, free markets.

That Sullivan doesn’t understand that, and that he thinks Business lining up with warming scaremongers is indicative that the scare is real, just shows how the self-absorbed Sullivan is so easily confused and tricked. For generations Big Business has pushed for government privileges, contracts and even restrictions and regulations (that hamper the competition more than it costs them thus increasing their profit while they appear “benevolent” demanding restrictions on themselves). And the warming scare is no different than the Commie scare or any other fear campaign, it is an opportunity to use the hysteria to push legislation which, at the core, is about increasing their profits through political means.

We can see this use of politics in the "chastity" industry that the lunatic Religious Right has created. Hundreds of millions in federal funding, pushed through by the Theopublicans, created a profit opportunity by preaching chastity to bored high school students. And within a short time every second rate fundamentalist ideologue had set up "consulting" companies seeking "faith-based" support to preach their theology regarding sexuality all at taxpayers expense. What the Right has done with their chastity campaign the Left does with global warming. They create profit-making opportunities for those people who politically connected. Big business is always well connected no matter who is in power. And most big business money these days goes to the Obamas and Clintons in the political world.

Politicians will always talk about the poor and the powerless when running for office. But in office they will almost always distribute wealth to the rich and powerful. And they will do so at the expense of the very people they claim to represent. Warming fears is one perfect way of accomplishing that. As long as politicians have the power to redistribute billions of the economic pie you can bet that they will be redistributing it to the rich and powerful most of all. There simply is not sufficient benefit in actually helping the poor.