Friday, 29 July 2011

A pincer movement of sheer lunacy - Part II

In Part I (here) I bemoaned the absurd overreaction by the professionally smug to the non-news that newspapers buy information obtained by illegal phone tapping. A week has now passed since a Parliamentary committee manned by incompetent cross-examiners conducted a kangaroo court trial of three people connected to a particular newspaper and failed to pin a tail anywhere near the donkey's anus. The only public outcry of which I am aware concerns the distasteful bugging (tapping, hacking, call it what you will) of telephonic communications involving the families of deceased people. Reprehensible though I consider such activity to be, there is no evidence that disclosure of any improperly obtained material has caused inconvenience, embarrassment or upset to any family members. In short the whole thing is a bit of a non-issue over which politicians - sniffing the chance to pass laws preventing their own sordid secrets being exposed - have whipped themselves into an unnecessary lather.

Part II is about the apparent intent of all our main political parties to make electricity oppressively expensive. I am not going to rehearse the unanswerable arguments against reliance on generating electricity from wind and waves, nor am I going to rail against those in rabid servility to every scare story promoted by those whose financial position rests on acceptance of the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis. My concern is with something much more basic and, in my view, important.

As recently as twenty years ago I doubt many would have argued with the proposition that elected politicians in the UK had one duty above all other - to do what they considered to be in the best interests of the people they represent. Of course there can be honest disagreements about what is in the best interests of the little people but the focus of the exercise was unaltered by the outcome of the debate. MPs were in parliament to represent their constituents by acting in what they considered the best interests of their constituents. On local issues they would fight for what they felt was best for the constituency, on national and international issues they would broaden their remit to cover all the people living in the UK because the interests of their constituents were the same as the interests of every other person in the country.

Is it in the best interests of those living in a particular constituency and those living in all constituencies for electricity to be cheap or expensive? To my mind that is not a difficult question and should permit only one answer. Cheaper electricity eases pressure on household budgets and reduces the costs of doing business, as such it is a blindingly obvious desire for any right-thinking person whether or not he is a Member of Parliament. More expensive electricity hits the poorest hardest and hampers our businesses in their aim of selling goods and services to overseas customers. It takes a weirdly warped sense of priorities for any MP to promote a policy that impoverishes his own constituents and the country as a whole.

We all know why they continually pass laws making electricity ever more expensive. In part it is because they have fallen for the great global warming scam. In part it is because they hope it will bring in additional tax. In part it is because they want to set a pointless example to other countries in which politicians are not so craven to Saint Al of Gore and his distinctly unmerry fellow-travellers. In part it is because they have fallen for the "green jobs" scam. In part it is because they are scared of the party whips. In part it is because they think there might be votes in presenting themselves as "green". All these things explain why they support a particular line of policy, but none justifies voting for measures that hurt their constituents and damage the economy of the whole country.

Never let it be said I will miss an opportunity to state the obvious, and today is no exception. The reason we in the UK enjoy our current standard of living is that we have found ways of making physical comfort cheaper than it was before. Human beings have always been doing this and over the last two hundred years or so we have done it so successfully that we now measure material deprivation in the UK not in terms of basic housing, food and clean water but in terms of access to the internet, holidays and mobile telephones. Material comforts that are now taken for granted and deemed essential to subsistence living were either science fiction or oppressively expensive as recently as forty years ago. This happy state of affairs has been brought about by the amazing ability of human beings to invent new things and improve old things so that a luxury lifestyle of the 1950s is attainable on the minimum wage in 2011.

At the heart of all this improvement in the quality of everyday physical comfort is electricity. The cheaper it is, the better we all live. And do not ever forget that those earning good money will always be able to afford comfort, what really matters is allowing those of modest means the ability to get more comfort for their limited money. That is a fundamental part of the duty of MPs to act in the best interests of their constituents and of the country as a whole. However tempting it might be to satisfy international or party agendas, their duty is to their constituents and to the UK. Electricity costs are at the heart of all our lives, especially those of modest means, and any MP with his or her eye on the ball should be fighting against any government measure that increases its price.


H.R. said...

But, but... who will try the MPs for treason since they are voting against the interests of the country?

gyg3s said...

Take a closer look FB, it isn't a case of simply raising the price of electricity, rather, it is a case of using electricity as a wealth transfer mechanism, from poor to rich.

Antisthenes said...

NASA claims that observations they have made from space proves that global warming caused by carbon emissions are grossly overstated.

Anonymous said...

Aren't there two variables involved: the price of electricity and for how long it will be available? If you believe in Adam Smith's invisible hand without question, then you believe that man will always find a way around any difficulty and will always find new resources when needed. And you will also believe that it was man's genius that 'invented' oil, and that our global economy and standard of living was always going to be as it is today. If there hadn't been oil, man would have simply 'invented' some other form of concentrated, easily-transportable energy source that cost virtually nothing to produce.

I am as sceptical as you are about global warming, and I think that these 'feed in tariffs' are plain ridiculous. But equally I cannot believe that the so-called free market knows best on these matters either. Your post basically says that we should always use up our resources at the fastest rate we possibly can in order to make our lives that little bit more cosseted, and to hell with the consequences when they run out. But remember that our economy as presently constructed cannot tolerate 'negative growth' at all. So by all means fritter the oil as fast as you can, but bear in mind that we don't have to run out of the stuff to suffer catastrophe, merely for the daily supply to level off. It might make much more sense to artificially damp down the economy in order to maintain slight positive growth than to blow it all on a huge party.

TheFatBigot said...

I wasn't aware I was saying anything about using our resources in order to have a huge party regardless of the consequences. What I hope I said is that the duty of MPs is to act in the best interests of their constituents and, where there is no conflict, in the interests of the country as a whole.

My proposition is that the interests of constituents and country require rejection of any policy that artificially increases the price of electricity.

If a case can be made for using taxpayers' money to develop new sources of electricity generation (and I do not believe it can) it should be done at the expense of some other government project of less importance, it should not be done by imposing hefty additional taxes on consumers of electricity.

As for resources such as coal and oil running out, not only is it an unwarranted worry (oil has been predicted to be uneconomic in 10 or 20 years in every year since the 1950s) but also the parliament of one small country can do abolutely bugger-all about it anyway.

diogenes said...

Mr Bigot, you might be interested in a discussion at the Bishop Hill blog.