Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Climate Language - Watch your Wallet

Investment - it's one of those words that sounds good. Evokes images of squirrels hiding nuts for the winter and saving for Fundbaby's college education. It sounds a helluva lot better than "huge tax increases giving elected politicians and government bureaucrats lots of money to pass around to campaign supporters and rent-seeking business people" which is what it usually means when people talk about government investments.

See governments don't make money and then invest it. They take our money and then spend it. Now one of the biggest debates in economics is whether or not the effect of government spending is good or bad for an economy depending on the context and way it's spent. Folks like Keynes and Paui Krugman think that's possible and support it. Conversely folks like FA Hayek say that such initiatives are a bad thing to be avoided because the government doesn't do a particularly good job of spending other people's money and typically just gives the money to special interests.

The Greenies have been the kings of language. They say things like "green jobs" and "investment" and "climate change" rather than "heavily subsidized jobs" or "wasteful government redistributive spanding" or "variations in dynamic systems that potentially show little causal effect." It's just like shopping at Whole Foods and paying 14 dollars for a 5 ounce bag of baked organic root vegetable chips, which makes you feel good about yourself, but makes little economic sense and even less environmental sense.

But I think that Climategate, which I've blogged about a little and the right wing blogosphere has been covering extensively, along with the economic downturn has had a pretty big impact on even MSM coverage of Copenhagen. Take for example this Time article examining the costs of a climate change deal. The author focuses on how expensive it's going to be, qualifies the apocalyptic predictions, and notes that carbon trading is going to be really, really expensive.

As long as folks like Fox News stop posting stupid survey data about opposition to global warming and de-legitimizing folks who have genuine concerns about the costs and benefits of this project I think we may, MAY be heading in the right direction.

1 comment:

  1. Language is a very powerful thing. At its root, it is packaging. And packaging like all superficialities is seldom designed to do more than deceive (even if subtly) those it encounters. Where ever discourse is destroyed, one needn’t look far to find those hoping to package their view as incontrovertible. Attention to rhetoric and consumer skepticism are the only antidote to its insidious nature.