So Who Are The Stupid Ones Down In Australia?

On Saturday, there was a big national election in Australia. All seats for the parliament were up. The incumbent Prime Minister, running for re-election, was Scott Morrison of the Liberal Party (we would call them conservatives). The opposition Labor Party, whose candidate for PM was a guy named Bill Shorten, explicitly ran a campaign focused on the issue of climate change.

Going into the election, all polls had Labor ahead (although some by margins as small as 2-3 points). But in the end, Morrison and the Liberals (in coalition with other small parties) won a clear, if somewhat narrow, victory.

Labor clearly thought that running on the issue of “climate change” was the sure route to victory. They frequently referred to the contest as the “Climate Change Election.” They accused the Liberals of lacking any credible plan to attack climate change. And they devised detailed proposals that they called their “Climate Change Action Plan.” Here is a summary; and here is the full Plan. The idea was to force massive cuts in Australians’ CO2 emissions in an effort to “save the planet.” From the Overview in the Plan:

Failure to act on climate change will expose the Australian people and environment to devastating costs for our economy, society, security, health and environment. Experts at the ANU, University of Melbourne and CSIRO estimate failing to keep global warming to below two degrees will eventually cost the average Australian household $14,000 per year.

The promised “action on climate change” boiled down to a forced reduction in Australia’s CO2 emissions by 45% (on 2005 levels) by 2030, and “net zero” emissions by 2050. And how was that to be accomplished? . . .

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New York Gets Crazier And Crazier Every Day

We last examined the total insanity of New York City progressivism back on April 23, with a post titled “Mayor de Blasio Sets Out To Accelerate New York City’s Decline.” The particular focus of that post was a proposal from our Mayor to impose onerous efficiency standards on office buildings as the latest progressive idea to “save the planet” from the scourge of climate change. If you thought that that proposal just had to represent the ultimate low point of progressive craziness, and that it couldn’t possibly go any lower, then you just haven’t been paying attention. In the last few weeks, the new emergency rules and bans that must be imposed immediately by government to save the world have been coming ever faster and faster. You almost can’t learn about one before the next one is upon you, each one somehow more urgent in the case made for it, more burdensome in its application to the citizenry, and yet even more trivial in potential effect (if any at all) on the planet or the environment or whatever it is we are trying to “save.”

First up, the package of six bills covered in that April post, going by the collective name of the “Climate Mobilization Act,” promptly passed the City Council and became law. The CurbedNY website provided a summary of the bills on April 22, including this gem:

Come 2024, the legislation mandates landlords move toward cutting their building emissions 40 percent by 2030, and would put the city on a path toward reducing its carbon emissions by a whopping 80 percent by 2050.

Of course, the new law puts the steepest burdens on the buildings that are already the most efficient (e.g., modern skyscrapers), while exempting huge categories of buildings that are the least efficient (e.g., City buildings, low income public housing, rent regulated apartment buildings, single family houses). Some City Council members took the occasion to make totally delusional statements about what they think will be the effect of their handiwork. For example, one of the prime sponsors was a guy named Costa Constantinides from Astoria, Queens. His comment:

“There are talks about the Rockaways, Coney Island, and neighborhoods in Staten Island literally being wiped off the map by the end of this century if we do not act,” said [Constantinides]. . . . “No single-handed policy can completely reverse the effects of climate change, but this policy, when enacted, will be the largest emissions reduction policy in the history of New York City or any city anywhere.”

Or this from City Council Speaker (and my own representative) Corey Johnson:

“Our planet is closing in on a breaking point … we have to transition from investing in fossil fuel infrastructure to clean, renewable energy,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said during the vote. “We have to act decisively and we have to act now.

Do these numbskulls actually think that by upgrading the energy efficiency of a few office buildings in New York they can somehow affect the level of the oceans? . . .

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Frances Fox Piven, Icon Of The Left

In the New York Times, they have a section that goes by the name “New York” on weekdays and “Metropolitan” on Sundays. This section contains next to no useful information about what is going on in New York and/or the surrounding area. Even local news staples like murders and fires rarely get covered. And if you want to learn about the latest corruption in City government, or important new laws coming out of the state legislature, you mostly have to look elsewhere.

But they have to fill the space with something. A fair characterization of the large part of it would be “support for our team.” To illustrate, yesterday’s “Metropolitan” section was totally dominated by a single article that contained nothing about relevant local news. Instead, it was, to put it mildly, a fawning profile of a woman named Frances Fox Piven. The headline was “This 86-Year-Old Radical May Save (or Sink) the Democrats.”

Have you heard of Frances Fox Piven? She first came to my attention way back in the 1960s, when she had become one of the early enlistees in the “War on Poverty,” and went around leading loud welfare “rights” demonstrations. She’s been doing variations of the same ever since. But I can’t say that I have closely followed her career. This Times profile fills in many details, and in the process makes clear that Ms. Piven is a true archetype of the species sometimes known as the Upper West Side progressive radical. I thought that readers here might like an introduction.

Here is how the Times chooses to introduce its piece: . . .

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Whatever Happened To Obamacare?

My post of a few days ago addressed what is to me one of the oddest features of the progressive project, namely that existing government programs that were supposed to solve some social problem, but then utterly failed, just get completely forgotten — even as spending on those programs continues and indeed generally increases forever on autopilot. Meanwhile, the underlying social problem persists, and the response of the progressive politician is to cease all mention of the prior programs (and certainly never to acknowledge their failure), and instead to propose yet another new program and yet additional new spending to solve the same problem. Surely, this newly-proposed program is going to be the one that will finally work.

That prior post specifically addressed government job training programs. There were 47 of them (by one count) in 2014, when then-VP Joe Biden got the task from President Obama of finally solving the problem of inadequately-trained workers. Of course, Biden never acknowledged the disaster of the existing 47 failed programs, and instead proposed another new federal job training program and $600 million of new spending (sorry, “investments”).

And the job training situation is of course only a microcosm of the broader federal “anti-poverty” effort, where scores of programs and nearly a trillion dollars in annual federal spending never make the slightest dent in the problem of “poverty” as defined. . . .

But surely the most striking example of this phenomenon is in the healthcare area. There, all the talk among the current Democratic candidates is of finally bringing “universal healthcare” to America. . . .

But wait a minute. Whatever happened to Obamacare? Wasn’t that the be-all-and-end-all program that was supposed to bring “everyone access to medical care”? . . .

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Even Architectural Criticism Must Follow The Correct Political Narrative

Even Architectural Criticism Must Follow The Correct Political Narrative

This past Sunday I joined the good people from Maggie’s Farm on their annual “Urban Hike” in New York City. This year they rounded up a group of about 13. The hike started at the Museum of Natural History (80th Street and Central Park West — near the geographical center of Manhattan Island) and proceeded uptown on a meandering path of about 9 miles, stopping at sites that included things like Pomander Walk, Straus Park (Leo Straus was the founder of Macy’s who died on the Titanic), and Columbia University. The weather was chilly with persistent rain. Toward the end of the hike, at about 155th Street, we had just stood on Edgecomb Avenue at the top of the bluff overlooking the spot where once had stood the Polo Grounds (actually a baseball stadium that was the original home of the Mets, and before them the New York Giants baseball team), and we turned the corner, and suddenly this: . . .

Several gasps and “Oh my God”s erupted spontaneously. I heard the words “Darth Vader building” uttered behind me. Whatever this black block might be, there had been no mention of it in the hike itinerary that had been provided to us; and yet this building was clearly the dominant presence in the neighborhood. Viewing it from the street, its function was not obvious. Had this thing been dropped in by space aliens? What could it possibly be, and why was it here? . . .

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Can Anybody Around Here Admit Out Loud That The Federal Government Cannot Fix Every Human Problem With Another New Program?

When you get right down to it, the fundamental fallacy of the progressive movement is the idea that the central government can fix every human problem by just creating some new programs and spending some new money. And the most important theme of this blog is showing by a thousand examples how that effort always fails.

That’s why one of my favorite recent posts is the one of the past November 23, titled “The Idea That Just Won’t Die: The Right Federal Program Can Solve Any Human Problem.” Key quote:

Take a some of our very brightest thinkers. Send them to some top Ivy League or equivalent schools to get the very best educations. Then turn them loose into the policy arena, full of moral righteousness and energy and a burning passion to fix the world. And what will emerge? Remarkably, in every case you can find, what will emerge will be the exact same thing: a proposal for some new government “program” and spending that supposedly will fix whatever problem the particular guru may focus on at the moment.

That particular post focused on federal job training programs. Federal job training programs are perhaps the very best illustration of the fallacy that some new federal program and spending could possibly be the solution to a human problem at hand, since by now there are around 50 of them, all of which continue to fail utterly. Yet despite that incredible track record, every time a government official or policy wonk looks at an issue of job lay-offs or high unemployment, the proposed solution is always another federal job training program. The failure of the previous 50 or so of them is never mentioned. That would just be too impolite. Nor does anyone ever suggest cutting back, much less eliminating any of the 50 failures. That’s just not how this game is played. Instead, one more program is added, and this one is really, really going to work this time. . . .

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