There have been one or two significant news items during my broadband exile due to removal: the hardening of attitudes against welfare claimants, on climate change, and the shift in green Party values.
My absence from the blogosphere has been much longer than the15 days actually with only the occasional loan of a dongle (gongle?) to read emails. There are I believe statistics to the effect that moving house is at least as stressful as bereavement or divorce. You can add me to those figures.
My intention is to leave the welfare benefits fight for now, though events will no doubt drag me back from time to time. But the report that attitudes are hardening against welfare claimants bears out my contention that Iain Duncan Smith is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the rest of society. It is true that a large section of the press has a scrounger-demonizing agenda, but it will continue to be far more successful than it should s long as means testing remains unchallenged. Particularly depressing was this week’s Analysis, outlining Labour’s proposed abandonment of the welfare state. It was seriously flawed, but not because of top down, centralized administration, as the Labour leadership now believe. Even Polly Toynbee, the lone voice standing out against the shift, has not yet grasped that means testing, not centralization is the key to IDS’s secret weapon.
A more significant issue in the news is climate change. The devastation in Oklahoma is the latest in a series of extreme weather events. As I write, central Europe suffers the worst floods for 500 years. But these can be dismissed as freak events. What cannot be so easily brushed aside is Martin Wolf’s observations on 21st May. The Chief Economic Commentator for the Financial Times has explicitly accepted the scientific consensus. He says:
“Global inaction shows that the climate sceptics have already won. The real and present dangers are too uncomfortable to confront”. He starts by reporting – and accepting – that an analysis of abstacts of 11,944 peer-reviewed scientific papers, published between 1991 and 2011 and written by 29,083 authors, concludes that 98.4% of authors endorsed man-made global warming, 1.2% rejected it, and 0.4% were uncertain. But he goes on to say: “The sceptics who are convinced that the best thing t do is nothing should stop moaning – they have won.” Mr. Wolf’s assessment is that the chances of avoiding catastrophic consequences of climate change are close to zero. A formidable voice indeed.
Mr. Wolf goes on to make some practical suggestions, some of which are reasonable, but he includes nuclear power, and geo-engineering. What he does not address is the notion of getting away from economic growth as conventionally measured as necessary or desirable. I wish I could persuade him to read my book, which explains how the principle underlying the Citizens’ Income could yet save us from the worst.
My next blog will probably deal with my increasing misgivings about the direction of the Green Party, which was founded precisely to address the problem Martin Wolf now adds his not inconsiderable weight to. Specifically, I am dismayed by the ‘No’ reply by Sebastian Power, a young Green, to the question “Does population matter?” posed in the Spring 2013 Green world.