Covid, 'Climate Change,' and the Theory of Everything

Since classical physics seemingly clashed with quantum mechanics, scientists have tried to find an overarching theory. Searching for the Theory of Everything is the catchiest way to describe the grand quest. My quest is more base than grand, being steeped in political calculation. Yet it has a commonality of sorts with the theory of everything. I’m after a common factor which explains the loss of public support for three political leaders. Each quite different from one another.

My three subjects are Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, and Scott Morrison. According to the polls, support for each of them has plummeted since they were elected. If elections were held today each of them and their respective parties would be routed.

On the political spectrum, Biden has gone from (supposedly) moderately left to green-new-deal junkie. Johnson has gone from an irreverent, freedom-loving Brexit hero to a tax-raising, Covid-panicking, climate zealot. Morrison, true to expedient form, has embraced net-zero to appease wets among his colleagues, to assuage corporate carpetbaggers and, so I understand, to please Scandinavians.

Nobel Peace Prize here we come.

In the past, the issues of the day were more bread and butter than they are now. Generally, the state of the economy determined whether a government was returned or kicked out. "It’s the economy stupid," used to be the theory of everything.

Clearly, inflation is affecting the popularity of Biden. A touch of the past there. But that certainly isn’t playing out in the U.K. or in Australia to nearly the same extent. Nor does the dreaded Wuhan virus tip the balance either way in my view.

My impression is that those seeking safety, and astonishingly they are in their legions, are happy enough with their government. That’s because all three leaders have reacted with feckless paranoia at the least sign of sickness. Moreover, those hardy folk who are prepared to take a risk or two for freedom’s sake have largely been battered into submission by media and government propaganda machines. Being constantly told that your freedom poses a deadly risk to the vulnerable is unnerving.  Who wants to be accused of recklessly killing grannies and grandpas? No one. Game, set and re-election.

Biden has a border problem, as does Johnson to a lesser extent. This undoubtedly affects their popularity. But among which voters? That’s key, as I’ll come to.

Australia has the advantage of being an island continent. It’s easier to keep so-called asylum seekers out. Boats have to travel a fair way. Still, you have to be prepared to turn them back. Under Tony Abbott, prime minister from 2013-2015, they were turned back. If they scuttled their boats, hoping to be rescued and brought ashore, they were provided with life boats and pointed seaward.

As foretold by prophecy.

Of course, the usual suspects were outraged. However, no political party, except the delusional Greens, has ever risked going to an election promising to overturn the policy of turning back boats. They would like to. But they sniff the votes. The votes they’re sniffing are not those of the inner cities, the professional and corporate types, the public servants, the educators. They’re all now overwhelmingly left-cum-green voters. The votes at risk are in blue-collar outer suburbia, and in regional and rural towns.

John Howard, Australia’s prime minister from 1996 to 2007, won repeatedly by attracting the “Howard battlers.” Voters who in days past would have voted for the Labor Party. This section of the voting block also brought Boris Johnson his victory in 2019, as the so-called “red wall” of Labour constituencies in the Midlands, Northern England and in parts of Wales fell to the Tories. This story applies in similar measure to Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 and also to Scott Morrison’s come-from-behind win in 2019.

It’s not so much the issue as the constituency. Trump appealed to America first; in other words, to old-fashioned patriotism. A lot followed from that. Defending the southern border; protecting American industry from predatory international competition and from onerous regulations; and withdrawing from draining foreign military engagements.

Johnson also keyed into patriotism. Brexit was won on patriotism not on financial calculations. Who's patriotic anymore? You’d mostly search in vain in white-collar inner-suburbia. Patriotism lives among blue-collar workers and in regional and rural communities.

It wasn’t patriotism per se that Morrison tapped into in 2019 but it was related and the constituency was the same. Climate-change apocalypticism threatened the coal industry in Northern New South Wales and Queensland and, with it, the livelihoods and way of life of surrounding communities. The common factor in the victories of Morrison and Johnson and Trump before them was their appeal to the national interest. Their thinking was spot on.

Learn to code, bro.

From spot on to derangement.  Climate-change apocalypticism has finally had its way. Nobody illustrated that better than Biden in New Hampshire at the end of 2019:

Anybody who can go down 300 to 3,000 feet in a mine can sure as hell learn to program as well...Give me a break! Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for god's sake!

Of course, the extent of Biden’s derangement is a special case. Nonetheless, the common factor in the falling popularity of all three leaders is their embrace of globalism in the place of the national interest. And, hence, their willingness to sacrifice the well-being of multitudes of their citizens in a quixotic quest to cool the planet. Maniacal, inexplicable, but true.

Maybe Biden didn’t really have much of a choice with AOC and Bernie Sanders snapping at his throat. Not so with Johnson and Morrison. Though I suppose, in part excuse, Johnson has his leftist wife, Prince Charles, and David Attenborough to deal with. I can’t find much of an excuse for Morrison.

Enemy of the People: Scott Morrison.

Last time he did a Trump and put Australia first. There was a big contrast between his Party’s climate policy and the opposition Labor Party’s. Now they are both aiming for net-zero; bizarrely dependent on unknown future technologies. In the meantime, onward with wind and solar boondoggles; and to blazes with Australia’s fossil fuel industries and the communities which live off them. There will be a comeuppance. As the votes of such communities drift away to conservative-minded independents, Morrison can forget about winning.

By and large, most Republicans understand today’s political landscape, I think. Johnson and Morrison seemingly don’t. Johnson has more time to change course. He won’t. His party needs to change him. Morrison, having swallowed the poisonous climate bait will likely meet his doleful fate. Dispatched to the opposition benches in the forthcoming May election.

Extremism in the Pursuit of Economic Madness

You don’t know it yet, although you think you do, but there is a great smash-up ahead of us when the extremist green policy of “Net-Zero” hits the West’s voters square in the solar plexus. The reason you think you know about this smash-up is because a vast array of Green pressure groups and activist organizations have combined to persuade you that you are already facing a completely different kind of smash-up.

They preach that unless you give up eating meat, fly less (or not at all), abandon your car for a slower and more expensive one, throw out your gas heaters for electric storage heaters that don’t actually keep you warm, and in general live more like a mendicant Buddhist, then a horrendous climate emergency will ensure that the world will end last Tuesday.

Last Tuesday? Surely not. But the correct answer is yes. We have already passed the dates of several environmental Armageddons and Goetterdammerungs that had been predicted by a long list of people and organizations from Extinction Rebellion  to Prince Charles to the New York Times (passim) to the United Nations to the CIA. Here's one of several lists of such false predictions:

And here’s the Guardian in 2004, waxing gleeful that President Bush will be embarrassed by a report from the CIA that Britain will be suffering a Siberian climate along with many other ills across Europe and the world by, er, last year.

No one apologizes for these self-confident errors when the world fails to experience the catastrophes they have forecast, and a week later another warning of imminent doom is posted to a loud chorus of demands for action NOW to prevent it. Anyone who points this out is condemned as a science denier, and nothing he says need ever be listened to again.

Do that voodoo you do do so well.

This would be a comedy of sorts if these false alarms had not persuaded governments and international agencies to prepare hugely expensive programs designed quite deliberately to make their industries’ costs much higher and their citizens poorer in order to ward off the anger of Gaia. Net-Zero is the name of one of those programs and as governments concede, it will require a very considerable belt-tightening on the part of ordinary citizens (aka voters.)

In short the real smash-up looming ahead of us will be what happens when the Net-Zero program actually reduces the living standards of the voters, some very substantially, starting in the next decade with the U.K. phasing out of petrol-driven cars, effectively compelling them to switch to more expensive electric vehicles.  For though voters have seen their living standards cut before by foolish policies, this would be the first time that a government has done so deliberately and boasted of doing so in advance. They won’t be able to claim ignorance or bad luck when the roof falls in.

That’s a very odd situation for democratic governments to find themselves in.  It runs counter to the usually strong survival instinct of politicians. Why have they almost all signed onto the “climate emergency” theory and to the Net-Zero policy response to it?

Look at the record. Only five MPs voted against the Climate Change Act that launched this policy in the U.K. parliament, and all the “respectable” parties in Europe and most of the world are passionately devoted to it. The U.N. has been its cheerleader since the Rio de Janeiro conference in the 1990s. China’s policy consists of promising to cut carbon emissions without actually doing so for as long as possible.

Indeed, except for the U.S., there’s an international consensus of governments in favor of Net-Zero (though not one in favor of paying for it since it costs a lot of money to make people poorer.) Now the election of President Biden signifies that Washington will join the consensus. So the question naturally arises: why are governments setting themselves up for a massive political clash with their own voters?

One very obvious reason is that global warming is a genuine problem, potentially a very serious one, which governments feel they must address with effective measures. Almost no one denies that, however. The supposed climate “deniers” such as Bjorn Lomborg, Michael Shellenberger, and former U.K. finance minister Lord Lawson, all accept the reality of the problem. Where they differ from the (semi-enforced) political consensus is in believing that the problem is serious without being an emergency and, more importantly, that there are better solutions to it that carry less damaging side effects than Net Zero. Their arguments and policy proposals are supported by impressive evidence. They deserve a hearing—and the world needs an open debate—rather than exclusion from debate by the establishment’s own cancel culture.

Shut up, they explained helpfully.

As that culture indicates, however, not all of the causes of the governments’ adhesion to Net Zero are respectable ones. A reason why they believe they can afford to risk and probably survive a serious clash with their electorates is that all the respectable parties have signed onto the deal. If all their rivals have publicly pledged support for Net-Zero, governments calculate, then there will be no one for the voters to vote for if they want to vote against the policy.

That calculation has proved successful in the case of the Euro. It has survived all the disasters it’s inflicted on Mediterranean Europe because no parties there were prepared to break with the European establishment’s pro-Euro consensus—and when one arrived in power that was half-prepared to do so, namely Syriza in Greece, it was bullied into acquiescence with threats of ruin and isolation.

But that kind of enforced consensus, as well as being a brutal thing that requires an illiberal silencing of debate and the hunting down of heretics like Lomborg, risks keeping bad policies in place because it protects them from criticism. For the moment at least, the Euro is a disaster but a secure one.

But such moments might be significantly extended by the cooperation between governments, establishments and activists to manufacture a Potemkin public opinion in opposition to the real reactions of voters to the economic consequences of both the Euro and Net-Zero.

Two new reports—Ben Pile’s monograph for the Global Warming Policy Foundation on the undemocratic tactics of the UK's Climate Assembly  and the Spiked article by Roslyn Fuller on the billionaire takeover of “civil society” NGOs—between them illustrate how a new kind of astroturf activism is attempting an end run around democracy by misrepresenting what the voters think to the media and public opinion. How is this done? That's something I'll return to next week.

All hail Unanimity.

But is anyone fooled by such tactics? Many people are, and as Pile has suggested, the problem is that governments, politicians, and the media are among them--though want to be fooled and cooperate in the folly. To be sure, they are likely to be shaken out of that folly by the raw reactions of anger and incredulity of voters over policies intentionally impoverishing them. Nothing persuades people more quickly than that.

But the politicians will then be facing a serious crisis as they have to decide between defying the electorate or reversing a policy in which they have invested large sums of taxpayers’s money along with the public trust.

If they had better memories, they would have recalled another recent case in which all the political parties felt secure in supporting the same unpopular policy, ignoring and dismissing signs that large numbers of their voters disagreed with them, only to discover that it had been surprisingly rejected in a referendum and they had invited a crisis that lasted for the next four years:

Brexit.