And now the redistribution of consumption…

The Royal Society wants you to give up your lifestyle so developing countries can grow. But does it really work like that?

Robbing Peter to pay Paul? The Royal Society's approach to growth
On 26 April 2012 12:12

Edmund Burke’s prescience regarding the French Revolution and the inherent nature of ‘radicalism’ – that is to say the inevitability of spending, debt and tyranny inflicted by leftist ideals – is just as relevant in the 21st century as it was at the time of his writing ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’.

One of Burke’s most crucial points in my mind is the remarkable nature of populist rhetoric and how the ideas of ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ would result in further subjugation of the masses at the hands of Robespierre and subsequently, Napoleon.

Sold to the French in 1789 terms as, “We are the 99%”, the doctrine of maximum pricing (the ‘General Maximum’) led not only to rampant social discord as citizens squealed on their wealth creating neighbours, but further throttled the economy, the will to produce and made unfair scapegoats of those who had previously contributed the most to the French economy. Sound familiar?

With this in mind I write for you, incensed about the new General Maximum all but suggested by ’23 eminent academics’ that The Independent has quoted as calling for a radical ‘rebalancing’ of global consumption. That’s right. Put down that latte.

Based on what can only be described as the irresponsible usage of population growth predictions, the Royal Society has sanctioned a report that both undermines its credibility and attempts to dupe Western consumers into remorse over our ‘lavish’ lifestyles. Before we go any further, even United Nations statistics show that while the global population is set to grow between now and 2050 to over 8 billion, this will be an average at which the Earth sticks to for the next 250 years after that. More junk science and manipulation of data thus ensues.

The report suggests, like the farcical carbon trading scheme, a pseudo-market in consumption trading, albeit on a voluntary basis (for now – we know it never stays that way). Apparently, Westerners or those in developed nations should be expected to level their consumption and then reduce it so that those in developing countries can pick up the slack and have their own era of growth. But this is the very kind of folie à deux that modern scientists pass along – usually on the basis that ‘it sounds about right’ to those less in the know, or the public at large. This 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' attitude reduces economics from a science to idealism and must be rejected.

This kind of Bolshevist propaganda (there, I said it) is predicated on the idea of finite resources, one that these very same scientists would tell you we don’t have to stick to if we switch to ‘sustainable’ living and renewable resources? So which is it? To the informed moderate, the solution lies somewhere in-between, with natural resources playing a significant role up until the advent of secure, safe, affordable and technologically advanced energy and food creation methods. Raising the prices of natural resources in order to make renewables look cheap is not a morally sound option.

This also applies to food and other resources. Some people are already thinking up ways to endow Earth with more to supply growing demand while the Royal Society simply wants to shrink demand altogether. This is backwards economics supported by unaccountable non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like WWF who have recently taken to telling people how to eat.

For developing economies to grow, it does not require developed economies to give up their prosperity or growth but rather for developed countries and their partner NGOs to release their strangle hold from the throats of developing nations. From the common agricultural policy to attempted ‘green’ mandates and blocking routes to international markets for developing nations who fail to adhere to arbitrary standards, the developed world has much blood on its hands.

Now the anti-growth lobby not only want you to curtail your own consumption to attempt to ‘right’ this wrong imposed by you and your taxes in the first place – but they also want to limit the growth of nations so as to reflect a more ‘hospitable’ planet.

There was a time when pioneering and ingenuity was rewarded. Today we seem to have regressed back to 1789, demonising market-driven growth and attempting to replace it with tick boxes and failed economic and development theories. Just yesterday The Independent publicised another curtailment on the development of fracking for shale gas in the United Kingdom – a strategy that will leave us reliant on foreign energy sources, entangled in foreign wars and most pertinently to you and I – with much higher energy prices.

In a final blow to common sense, the Royal Society reports that ‘GDP is a poor measure of social well-being and does not account for natural capital’. Yes – that statement does makes as little sense as it first appears. A further explanation lies in the fact that this is yet another organisation that partly relies on government subsidy to promote an anti-growth agenda as best reflected in the below video which has gone viral on YouTube in the past few days. They want countries to be gauged by their green credentials and wind farms rather than per capita output.

The society boasts that Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Ernest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Dorothy Hodgkin, Francis Crick and James Watson were life members. It is my contention that these innovators and pioneers would be embarrassed of the pessimistic approach taken by modern scientists, many of whom see themselves as activists and are indeed children of ideology rather than professionals with a commitment to the scientific method.

The new ‘redistribution of consumption’ idea will in no way lead to enhanced economic growth in the developing world, as shrinking and protecting our economies will leave them no one to trade with. The best thing the West can do for the developing world is to lower barriers to entry, scrap targets and mandates and give innovators around the world a chance to bring about a new industrial revolution.

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator. He tweets at @RaheemJKassam

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