Rob Chrisman: You’ve been conned |

Rob Chrisman: You’ve been conned

Other Voices
Rob Chrisman

The word "con" derives from the word "confidence" in that the perpetrator of a con first develops in you an attitude of confidence, which is then used to exploit your trust in him to your detriment, such as promoting a fraudulent investment.

Unfortunately, it is often the case that we succumb to multiple con games which have their genesis in attitudes arising from Progressivism in the late 19th century. They exist because we would not willingly accept the conclusions the con imposes in the absence of its deception.

Con #1 — Climate Change: Put briefly, there is a concerted effort to gain your confidence in the notion that the earth's average temperature is increasing at a rate that will have serious consequences in the relatively near term; this warming is said to be directly related to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, a byproduct of recent industrialization. The remedy is immediate and drastic reduction in CO2 emissions by the developed countries.

The arguments for accepting this include: (1) a purported consensus among "scientists" of its truth; (2) denigration of critics as "climate deniers"; (3) the assertion that the "science is settled" with respect to climate change.

Unfortunately, it is often the case that we succumb to multiple con games which have their genesis in attitudes arising from Progressivism in the late 19th century.

To which I reply that the so-called consensus is among a group, the vast majority of whom are not climate scientists, who belong mostly to academe and whose livelihood and project funding depend on going along with these conclusions. And, of course, denigration and name-calling are not arguments, and the tone of the discussion recalls accusations of apostasy, i.e. climate change has become a religion of sorts.

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Finally, it is fundamental that, for any given theory, the science behind it is never fully settled, and is always open to new discoveries. The gist of the proponents here is that they are overwhelmingly correct and any dissent should not be tolerated. Viewing an interview with one of the more rabid proponents should convince you where they are coming from; just Google "Nye Carlson YouTube". The appeal here is not to logic or facts, but authority.

The reason why rejecting the Progressive view of climate change is so important is that the proposed remedies are drastic and would likely take the developed countries back to the beginning of the 19th century by denying us the continued use of fossil fuels and prevent the developing countries from achieving anything beyond their current standard of living.

Just witness the hostility to coal, to the new extraction method of "fracking", to pipelines and to most new developments generally. The Progressives are in danger of becoming the new Luddites.

Con #2 — The Nature of Economics: We are all subject to the gigantic con that current methodologies and policies are well founded in a mainstream economic theory based on concern for aggregate economic performance (e. g. GDP) and ways to intervene in the economy to influence outcomes. Fully 90 percent or more of economists extant are of this school of thought, which derives from the writings circa 1930 of English economist John Maynard Keynes; additionally, economics has largely become a mathematically-based discipline which attempts to accurately predict events.

Once again, the appeal here is to authority because the results in practice have been abysmal. The worst case is the recent severe downturn of 2008; most economists blamed greed and excessive risk-taking combined with insufficient regulations for the crisis, which some claim is inherent in capitalism. For the Keynesian school, the boom-and-bust cycle is a natural phenomenon that can occur spontaneously and whose causes are not understood.

The actual facts regarding 2008 are these: the central bank (the "Fed") kept interest rates historically low during the recession of 2001-02; when combined with government policies that mandated the creation of heretofore unknown volumes of high-risk mortgages for low-income buyers, the results were perfectly predictable — a housing bubble, i.e. more houses built than there was a legitimate demand for.

Add to that the innovation of certain relatively new types of mortgage securities, which pooled these riskier mortgages together, we have the ingredients for a crisis.

Almost all the impetus for this was supplied by government intervention: the Fed, the Congress and the housing government sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

Sorry, not capitalism's fault.

Rob Chrisman lives in Nevada City; he intends to publish more on this topic in the coming months.

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