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The lost mid-week

April 30th, 2010

I’ve been off the grid for the last few days, during which the Rudd government seems to have been making big decisions, or repudiating old ones, every day. The biggest, clearly, was the dumping of the ETS. In one sense, it’s hard to regret the abandonment of the failed deal with Malcolm Turnbull, which was probably worse than no policy at all. But the government should be negotiating with the Greens and holding the Liberals and independents to account, instead of caving in to the politics of fear, tribalism and ignorance.

On the positive side, the end of tobacco labelling is an important step forward in drug policy. It would be good to see drugs like marijuana treated in the same way as we are going with tobacco: legal but discouraged in every way possible.

A striking feature of these two issues was the appearance of the Institute of Public Affairs (long the paid mouthpiece of Big Tobacco and Big Coal) which was happy about the first, and critical of the second. Anyone who deludes themselves that they are “making up their own mind” to disregard the scientific consensus on the risks of tobacco smoking and climate change should realise that they have been sucked in by the IPA and similar hacks.

That’s all I have time for, and there’s the Henry Review and the Budget to come. Have a good weekend.

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  1. May 2nd, 2010 at 19:37 | #1

    @Ernestine Gross

    There is no “pro-nuclear advocate team”. Terje made one remark (@11) about the “distraction from nuclear”, Ikonoclast responded and I responded to him/her.

  2. Ernestine Gross
  3. Ernestine Gross
    May 2nd, 2010 at 20:23 | #3

    In conclusion, when a tax on the big pollution is too difficult, introduce a bigger tax on many smaller polluters, otherwise carry on as before.

    It would be very good,. IMO, to see the currently young generation not taking up cigarette smoking at all as a consequence of the success, after many years, of science trumping spin. If this were to be aided by the very high tax on cigarettes, relative to the budget of many in this age group and if a drab packaging helps, then all for the better. But what about the older people who are addicted to nicotine? Those who were young when spin dominated science. Isn’t the high tax on their habit nothing more than punishing the victims of spin even more? These people also paid higher marginal tax rates when they were young.

    If science would have trumped spin for good a long time ago, then some generous oldies might still go along with the new tax hike. But this is not the case and one doesn’t have to go far to see it.

    On this very blog-site the case was made, tightly argued and supported by empirical evidence that the spin methodology, first developed by the tobacco industry, has been copied by several others and, I understand, ‘The Right’ has excelled in it. As for my own observations, I have data of cases since 1994 and I watched its application in a big way before the Copenhagen Conference on the big pollution topic. But this is not all. The methodology is alive and well on some threads of this blog-site that are open when the boss is away and busy.

    Professor Quiggin, you may wish to have a little look at the last Monday (on Tuesday), 27 April thread and the thread on High Penetration Solar Deployment, 26 April 2010. IMO, a prominent supporter of taxes on cigarettes and prolific writer of stories gives a pretty good demonstration on how it is done by a ‘sincere enthusiast’ for nuclear energy. Nothing seems to change except the ASX industry code, so to speak.

    If the aim is to prevent spin trumping science, then the spin industry should be taxed big time. My earlier suggestion to this effect was only partially tongue-in-cheek. It is not only ghg emissions and tobacco smoke that damage humans and the environment. There is asbestos, there are other drugs. There is processed food which seems to transform healthy humans into big wobbly people. There is leukaemia and lymphoma and, …, there are the major players in the GFC.

    Banning spin altogether may not be a good idea IMHO; freedom of speech is important. Presumably it isn’t a trivial matter to empirically distinguish between sincere idiots and professional spin doctors. But, it is also not easy to distinguish between a joke and a case of say ethnic vilification. The idea of internalising the abuse of the substance ‘freedom of speech’, by means of a financial penalty should not be dismissed out of hand.

  4. Alice
    May 2nd, 2010 at 22:01 | #4

    @Ernestine Gross
    This comment has to go on the record Ernestine..

    Fran says
    “There is no “pro-nuclear advocate team”.

    The ultimate in outrageous denial of the sheer encyclopaedia of lengthy pro nuclear posts Fran has placed (no…. mass produced) in JQs blog and Fran now has the nerve to say there is “no pro nuclear advocate team” here…and then suggests it was Terje who made one comment to which she responded.
    The truth and the facts and the evidence has absolutely no meaning to some. The intention to deceive is alive and well here.

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