More War on the Boers

This past summer we reported on the tensions between the farmers of the Netherlands and that nation's government. The latter, at the behest of the E.U., had enacted various overweening environmentalist regulations, including a plan to slash the emission of gases like nitrogen oxide and ammonia by 50 percent by the end of this decade. These regulations were aimed squarely at farming, which is a sizable portion of the Dutch economy. They've already implemented nitrogen licenses, which are required for any new activity -- including the expansion of existing farms -- which emit the gas, and are pushing significant livestock reductions.

Dutch farmers have been understandably upset at these impositions, feeling that their livelihood has been unjustly targeted. They've undertaken mass protests, including blocking agricultural distribution centers and dumping milk rather then sending it to market, to force the country to acknowledge what life without their produce is like. In rowdier moments they've even sprayed manure on highways and used tractors to "slow-walk" roads, leading recently to what The Telegraph referred to as "the worst rush hour in Dutch history with 700 miles of jams at its peak."

Unfortunately the government, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has refused to change course. It has recently unveiled plans to "buy and close down up to 3,000 farms near environmentally sensitive areas." They insist that farmers will be well-remunerated, and unconfirmed reports suggest the government's purchase price will be around 120 percent of the value of the farms in question. One thing that is confirmed, however, is that they're not asking:

“There is no better offer coming,” Christianne van der Wal, nitrogen minister, told MPs on Friday. She said compulsory purchases would be made with “pain in the heart” if necessary.

It is worth pointing out the characteristic utopianism of environmentalist public policy at play here. For one thing, these anti-farming mandates come at a time when the war in Ukraine has created significant disruption in the global food supply. In fact, as The Scroll's Clayton Fox pointed out, increased food insecurity is something that the Dutch government has recently acknowledged in another context:

On Saturday, in a jaw-droppingly ironic video commemorating the Holodomor, Stalin’s deliberate starvation of millions of Ukrainians from 1932 to 1933, Prime Minister Rutte committed $4.1 million to the World Food Programme, saying that the Netherlands was glad to support not only countries in need of food, but also Ukrainian farmers. It appears that the Netherlands is subsidizing beleaguered Ukrainian farmers while bribing their own to shut down forever.

Has it never occurred to him that "countries in need of food" might benefit even more from an increase in the supply of food? Money is nice and all, but you can't eat it.

But there's another aspect of Leftist utopian tendencies that this lays bare -- their disdain for their own nation, its customs, and its people. The Netherlands is the world’s second-biggest agricultural exporter, after the United States. Anyone who has spent time with farmers knows that the work is more than a job for them, and that is especially true for Dutch farmers, who have tended to carry the way of life with them wherever they go. As we wrote in our last post,

The Dutch are proud of their farming prowess, and it lives on even when they've left home. The United States and Canada are home to scores of ethnically Dutch farmers whose families made their way west to escape the great wars of the 20th century, and much of modern South Africa was built by the Dutch farmers, or Boers, who arrived there in the 17th century. Farming is in their blood.

But Mark Rutte and the E.U. want that way of life to come to an end. It is as shameful as it is short-sighted.

The Cattle Raid of Greeney

Last week this writer pointed out Canada's almost hilarious insistence on following the trail blazed— sometimes literally—by Sri Lanka and the Netherlands before it. Well, now another extremely impressionable nation has decided to follow suit: The Financial Times reports that "Ireland’s coalition government has reached a bitterly contested deal to slash climate emissions from the country’s key agriculture sector by 25 percent by 2030." Bitterly contested because the actual farmers whose livelihoods will be effected by the deal were hoping those numbers would be lower, whereas the government—currently a coalition of the traditionally "rival" parties Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael along with the Green Party—wanted 30 percent emission cuts by 2030.

This deal is most likely the brainchild of Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, an environmentalist zealot who owes his outsized and wholly malevolent influence on the Republic of Ireland to his party's being the lynchpin of the unstable coalition, formed two years ago:

Members of the environmental party decided by a 76 percent majority to form an administration with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil... It signed up to a programme that promises radical action on climate change... Its deputy leader, Catherine Martin, said: “Now we will move forward together, respecting the democratic wishes of the majority of our party at all times, listening to each other … working in unity to protect our country and our planet.” The two larger parties needed the support of the Greens to have a working majority in the Irish parliament, equating to about 80 seats.

Ryan, who serves as the coalition's Environment Minister (of course), suggested that the cuts outlined in this deal are just the beginning, saying that they represented “a significant step in the right direction.”

For the farmers however, even these numbers are a bridge too far:

Tim Cullinan, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, called the 25 percent cut a “massive, massive ask” that could cost farmers €2bn a year and said the government had outlined no budget to help them achieve it.... Pat McCormack, president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association, said the agreement made “whole classes of farms unviable” and would push up prices. He added: “Our livestock industry — both dairy and beef — is the lifeblood of rural Ireland and Minister [of agriculture] McConalogue and the three party leaders of the coalition have struck it at its very heart today.”.... “It’s really impossible to see how we can achieve [these] targets... without reducing herds — and that’s an income issue for us,” said Brian Rushe, a dairy farmer.

Never mind that cattle have formed the basis of the Irish economy for more than two millennia. The most famous Irish epic poem is probably The Cattle Raid of Cooley (Táin bó Cuailnge), featuring the legendary hero Cú Chulainn. But modern Ireland is too smart and sophisticated to care about its heritage, one of the oldest continuous cultures in Europe, and so the cows must be sacrificed on the altar of "climate change."

One particular line in this piece is worth considering -- Tim Cullinan is quoted as saying: "This deal between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green party is all about the survival of the government rather than survival of rural Ireland." He is assuredly correct. The priority of these politicians is maintaining power, both by keeping the Green Party on side and by maintaining the good opinion of overseas elites -- rather than defending the interests of their country.

Eamon Ryan: no cow is safe around him.

But, as the uprising in Sri Lanka is showing us, focusing on the former while ignoring the latter is a good way of losing both. While the Irish economy is unlikely to bottom out like Sri Lanka's—Ireland's status as a tax haven for American corporations makes it too important for western governments to allow that to happen—a significant standard of living increase on top of the country's ongoing Covid-instigated recession has the potential to inspire an earthquake in Irish politics. And Sinn Féin, the Socialist/Nationalist party that the coalition government exists to keep out of power will likely be the beneficiary. Judging by their refusal to support agricultural emissions cuts, despite their own environmentalist commitments, they know it.

When the coalition took power after the 2020 election, outgoing prime minister Leo Varadkar famously proclaimed, "today civil war politics ends in our parliament," a reference to the two main parties' beginnings on opposing sides of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which culminated in the country's civil war. Varadkar might have been saying more than he realized — while Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been taking turns in government since the election of Éamon de Valera in 1932, actions like this might ensure they never win another election.

Then again, the "ranked choice" electoral system, known in Ireland as the "single transferable vote" (coupled, by the way, with the equally questionable "proportional representation"), practically begs for rigged outcomes designed to keep the Tweedledum and Tweedledee parties in power forever. If there's one thing the Irish know how to do it's run a racket (see: Hall, Tammany), and in Ireland, it's not who votes, but who counts the votes, and how they are counted, that matters. Amazingly, it always comes out just the way the racket wants it. Here's a taste of how the system works:

From a voter’s perspective [single transferable vote] is very simple. Just rank the candidates in order of your choice starting with 1. The counting of votes is a different matter and can appear very complicated to the uninitiated. The first thing to understand is that a quota is set for each constituency depending on the number of seats to be filled and the number of people who have voted. The quota is arrived at by dividing the number of valid votes by the number of seats plus one, and then adding one to the resulting total.

For instance if 40,000 votes are cast in a three-seat constituency the quota would be calculated by dividing the number of votes by four and then adding one making it 10,001. The formula means that no more than three people can reach the quota.

After the first count when all the number ones have been counted the first thing to happen is that the surplus votes of a successful candidate who has exceeded the quota will be distributed. This is done by checking the second preferences on all the ballot papers of the candidate and distributing his or her number twos in proportion.

When all the first-count surpluses have been distributed the returning officer will then move on to eliminating the candidate with the lowest number of votes. The number twos will be counted and allocated to the other candidates. The next lowest will be eliminated and so on until there are only three candidates left for the three seats.

As the counts progress a vote that was cast for a candidate eliminated early in the count will move on to the number two. If that candidate is eliminated in turn it will go on to number three and so on. If the candidate getting the number two is already elected or eliminated the vote will move on to the next available candidate still in the race.

There is a complication about distributing the surplus of a candidate elected after the first count with the help of transfers. Instead of counting all of the candidate’s votes to allocate the next available preference, only the last bundles of votes received are counted to see where the next preferences goes.

Got that? This crazy system was, of course, foisted on Ireland by the vengeful British, who bitterly hated losing their first and most despised colony:

It was imposed on this country as part of the Home Rule Act in 1912 and later incorporated in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 with the objective of protecting the unionist minority and ensuring they had representation in an Irish parliament. The system was later included in de Valera's 1937 constitution and two attempts to abolish it, in 1959 and 1966, were rejected by the electorate. The same system is used in Malta, the Australian senate and Northern Ireland Assembly.

Malta, Australia and the rump British province of "Northern Ireland," known in Ireland as the Six Counties, or "Ulster" (well, part of Ulster, anyway)—those paragons of democracy. No wonder the livestock is terrified: against crackpots like Ryan and the Greens, they don't stand a chance. And neither do the people, unless they finally wise up.

The Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and... Canada?

Golly, this story out of Canada sounds so familiar:

Provincial agriculture ministers are expressing frustration with the Trudeau government over plans to effectively reduce fertilizer use by Canada’s farmers in the name of fighting climate change.... The federal government is looking to impose a requirement to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizers saying it is a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.... The Trudeau government is demanding an absolute reduction in emissions, which farmers say will result in less food being produced at a time when the world can ill afford it.

Now where have we heard of similar government demands happening recently? Oh, well, in the Netherlands for one, where farmers in the world’s second-biggest agricultural exporter blocked roads and sprayed manure on government buildings after their environmentalist government attempted to force them to drastically cut their livestock numbers and sell their land to the government in order to cut emissions by 50 percent by the year 2030.

And then, of course, there was Sri Lanka, where President Gotabaya Rajapaksa enacted an almost-overnight ban on on pesticides and all synthetic fertilizers with the object of drastically reducing emissions and juicing his nation's ESG investment score. Well, "mission accomplished!" on that final point at least, but what came with that victory was an absolute disaster for Sri Lanka, with the nation's currency on the verge of collapse, with inflation running at around 112 percent, and devastation for the rice and tea harvests, the backbone of the nation's economy (and the Sri Lankan diet).

Let them eat bugs.

These are apparently the types of disorder that Justin Trudeau wants to import to Canada. Jordan Peterson made the same connection in his recent cri de coeur on the present state of his beloved homeland in the National Post:

How have Canadians failed to realize that our government holds them in contempt?... That the Trudeau Liberals are perfectly willing to make us all poor, miserable and demoralized just to utterly fail in their efforts to save the planet?... That we could be the freest, richest, cleanest country in the world but that we are trying hard to be none of those three?...

That all the data on the environmental front indicates that the fastest way to improve the ecosystems on which we all depend is to make people richer, not poorer (and to do that with good old capitalism) so they have the luxury to think about the long run and the habitat of their children?... Or that we are pursuing an energy policy generated by ideologues that will not only impoverish our populace by making energy unreasonably expensive... but that will only increase the probability that countries such as China will have to rely on coal to produce electricity instead of accessing, say, our plentiful natural gas. And that will therefore make the CO2 burden borne by the atmosphere greater instead of lesser.

And... (and in the aftermath of the Dutch farmer protests), that we are trying to reduce the absolute levels of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide produced by those who grow our food regardless of the amount of those crops produced in consequence. And that we’re doing that by threat and force — shades of Covid policy — instead of working with the farmers to find mutually acceptable and truly sustainable economic and environmental solutions.

Read the whole thing. Even if chances are slim to none that Justin Trudeau will do the same.

Are Dutch Farmers the New Canadian Truckers?

We've heard a lot about Net-Zero insanity in the U.K., Canada, and the United States, but enthusiasm for the concept is widespread among our global elite. For just the latest example, the government of the Netherlands, in order to do their part to "fight climate change" has recently enacted various pieces of environmentalist legislation. Among the most ambitious of these is a plan to slash the emission of gases like nitrogen oxide and ammonia by 50 percent by the year 2030.

Such drastic cuts necessitates radical action, and so to achieve their goal, the Dutch government is going to include increased regulations on farmers, including significant reductions in livestock -- whose flatulence is a popular target of environmentalist ire -- and for public money to be put towards buying up farmland to prevent its use in farming. Official plans have even been leaked laying out "scenarios" in which farmers could be forced to sell their land to the government.

This is shocking. The Netherlands is the world’s second-biggest agricultural exporter, after the United States, and farming is central to its economy. More than that, however, it is a major part of their national identity. The Dutch are proud of their farming prowess, and it lives on even when they've left home. The United States and Canada are home to scores of ethnically Dutch farmers whose families made their way west to escape the great wars of the 20th century, and much of modern South Africa was built by the Dutch farmers called Boers, who arrived there in the 17th century. Farming is in their blood.

Consequently, provoked by this attack on their way of life, the farmers are fighting back. Sometimes literally.

More often, however, their response has taken a more organized form, including "slow rolling" highways, by pulling tractors out onto the open road such that traffic grounds to a halt.

They've also taken to blockading supermarkets and distribution centers.

And dumping their milk rather than sending it to market.

Their object is to demonstrate how much the country relies on them, and what Dutch life would be like without the milk, eggs, meat, and produce that is the fruit of their labors.

Will these protests have an effect? Prime Minister Mark Rutte has vowed not to deal with the protesting farmers themselves, but he has begun negotiations with some of the nation's leading farmers' organizations in the hopes of working out a deal. It is likely that he's caught between a rock and a hard place, with the fanatically environmentalist European Union, on one side, pressuring his government to comply with the emissions targets they've set for his country, and his own countryman on the other.

Hopefully he chooses his own people rather than that unaccountable, post-democratic monstrosity. Doing so would make Rutte a greater leader than Canada's Justin Trudeau, who has incessantly courted the good opinion of the international elite instead of defending the interests of Canadians. Trudeau's negligence begat the Freedom Convoy this past winter, a movement which had more success than is popularly remembered, even if their fight isn't yet over.

Hopefully these Dutch farmers will be at least as successful.

In Holland, Suicide is Painless

Euthanasia for individuals is legal in the Netherlands, in cases of “unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement,”and has been since the turn of the century. Now the Dutch, whose self-loathing is fast approaching terminal, have decided to extend the privilege of suicide to the entire country:

The Dutch government has announced measures including huge cuts to coal use, garden greening and limits on livestock herds as part of its plan to lower emissions to comply with a supreme court ruling.

Climate litigation activists described the move as “an enormous win”. The small non-profit Urgenda Foundation, which filed the initial legal challenge in 2013, said this and earlier compliance measures totalled about €3bn euros, which confirms the impact of the world’s most successful climate lawsuit to date.

Under the new package, coal-fired power stations will have to scale back or close completely , cattle and pig herds will be reduced, subsidies will be provided to home owners to use less concrete and more plants in their gardens, and industry will have to find alternatives for several polluting processes.

“That is an enormous win,” said Marjan Minnesma, the director of Urgenda, which has 15-staff and operates out of two former school classrooms. “For many people this will give hope that it is possible to use the law as a strategic instrument for change.”

And there you have it. The Left wields the legal system to achieve through the courts what it cannot win at the ballot box. Realizing that no one in his right mind would buy the full program of privation that they're offering, they proceed incrementally, boiling the frog slowly until one day its unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement finally arrives.

Here's a bit about Urgenda:

The Dutch Urgenda Foundation aims for a fast transition towards a sustainable society, with a focus on the transition towards a circular economy using only renewable energy. It works on solutions for this transition, including for example the introduction and realization of ‘energy neutral’ houses and the acceleration of electric mobility. Urgenda views climate change as one of the biggest challenges of our times and looks for solutions to ensure that the earth will continue to be a safe place to live for future generations.

[For easy comprehension, meaningless buzzwords are in bold italic. Every one of them will cost you money.]

In other words, a return to the 18th century, plus electricity.

After a seven-year legal battle, the supreme court in the Hague ordered the government in December to reduce emissions by 15 megatonnes in 2020. The judges accepted Urgenda’s argument that climate change posed a dangerous threat to human rights and the Netherlands needed to accelerate its actions to meet its international commitment of a 25% cut compared with 1990... The headline change is a 75% reduction in capacity at the country’s three coal-fired power stations, all of which have been opened in the past five years. The government is also reportedly in negotiations to close one of these plants.

So, is everybody happy now? Of course not.

Minnesma said this should be seen as a “promising start” because the government is still about 4 megatonnes short of its obligations. She said the coronavirus lockdown should not be used as an excuse to backpedal.

They never stop, they never sleep, they never quit.