Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Off we gaily go with the pixies and the Caterists ...
The other day, Mark Day was urging newspapers to provide solid, upright, upstanding intelligent coverage and commentary, in order to avoid losing readership.
It's therefore a complete mystery, right up there with transubstantiation, why the reptiles at the lizard Oz keep on publishing the wit and wisdom of Nick Cater.
No one sensible could be bothered to read Cater, and certainly they'd be mad to pay for the privilege. Only someone in desperate quest for blogger filler would waste five minutes with mindless Caterist stupidity.
He's at it again today, in Bitten by the dispiriting dogma of sustainability (behind the paywall so you can go on living a sustainable life).
That's apparently because Cater likes things to be unsustainable, and the more unsustainable they are the better.
But at least the source of what the pond thought was inherent stupidity is now clear.
Cater is a Randian, and quite unsustainably.
In his disquisition, Cater concludes grandly, in a Randian way:
"Wealth does not exists as a fixed, static quantity," wrote Rand. "It is the creation of a dynamic, boundless mind. And it has no inherent limitation."
Oh dear. Of course there was an inherent limitation to the wealth produced by Rand's dynamic, boundless mind:
The Right should be commended politically for their ability to develop and stick to a unified message. But close inspection of this unified message reveals a disappointing secret identified by a student of the Godfather of Neo-conservatism, --- the University of Chicago's Leo Strauss. The student, Anne Norton ("Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire") identified what she called VIP-DIP meaning Venerated in Public, Disdained in Private. "Do as I say, not as I do." The list of vip-dipers on the Right runs from Harold Bloom to Newt Gingrich, but certainly not Ayn Rand. Right?
Say it ain't so Alisa Zinovievna Rosenbaum.
A heavy smoker who refused to believe that smoking causes cancer brings to mind those today who are equally certain there is no such thing as global warming. Unfortunately, Miss Rand was a fatal victim of lung cancer.
However, it was revealed in the recent "Oral History of Ayn Rand" by Scott McConnell (founder of the media department at the Ayn Rand Institute) that in the end Ayn was a vip-dipper as well. An interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand's law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand's behalf she secured Rand's Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O'Connor (husband Frank O'Connor).
As Pryor said, "Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out" without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn "despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently... She didn't feel that an individual should take help."
But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so. Apart from the strong implication that those who take the help are morally weak, it is also a philosophic point that such help dulls the will to work, to save and government assistance is said to dull the entrepreneurial spirit.
In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest. (here)
So there's you're inherent limitation to wealth. And what do you do? Why become a Queen of the welfare state and live high on the hog, in the same way as people on Newstart usually holiday in European ski resorts during the winter season ... Put it in another, graphic, way:
Now let's ignore the notion that Ayn Rand is one of those things a lot of us, when we're 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, would pick up and have a read, and then have a laugh, and then go on to a more mature understanding of the world.
That doesn't help us with Caterists - it's a fair guess that Cater is over the age of 17 or 18, though perhaps that's only physical, and perhaps it's a mental thing.
You see, Caterists keep going back to that Randian well:
"The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow," Ayn Rand wrote in 1972. "They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other until one day they are suddenly declared to be the country's official ideology."
Indeed. Unless you happen to be a fierce smoker, and then you discover you have lung cancer, in which case the uncontested absurdities of people supporting big tobacco turn out to the follies of tomorrow.
Or unless you happen to be a routine reader of The Australian, in which case the uncontested absurdities of today must become the unacceptable slogans of tomorrow, lest the Murdochian ratbaggery on view daily might suddenly be declared the country's official ideology.
Oh wait, their anointed warrior is now in power ... and Caterism is now the country's official ideology.
Which has its dangers. After all, you wouldn't want a Caterist making an effort to construct their own thoughts, or indulge in a little bit of satire:
What a splendid start to the year it has been for Australia. First the Ashes, then the one-day trophy and finally the corporate sustainability prize awarded to our own Westpac Banking Corporation in Davos. Sustainability is "a leading-edge issue", which means no one has a clue what it is, not even Wikipedia. The best it can manage is that sustainability is "a multi-faceted concept" and "a matter of ongoing argument". So much for the wisdom of crowds.
Uh huh. So Caterists love to do a Greg Hunt.
Of course if you actually went to Wikipedia, you'd find extensive coverage of the notion that sustainability can have different meanings in different circumstances to different people.
But when you're a shallow bear with a shallow brain intent on cheap point scoring, you just want an easy lead-in par, which can help confuse and conflate, and what better way than to wring hands and deplore a word being a matter of ongoing argument, debate and discussion.
With a Caterist, there can only be ongoing certainty, and never any question of ongoing questioning.
That's the way it is when you're a rabid ranting ideologue. Self-doubt can't ever be a part of the debate.
If you head off to a dictionary, you'll discover that sustainability is "the property of being sustainable" - go on, give yourself a hearty Caterist snigger - and that "sustain", the root of sustainable, cops some nine definitions, including:
9. To keep up a joke or assumed role, for example competently ... (here, where you'll also find other definitions which anyone other than a moronic Caterist would understand)
What do you know? The joke that is Caterism, and the assumed role of punditry, turns out to be sustainable ...
Caterism, it also turns out, is a most bizarre mix of random thoughts, of the kind that might see bears trapped while on a quest for honey.
Corporate speak gets a good spanking, with Westpac on the dunking stool, and so does the naughty size of the CEO's salary. And the notion of female chief executives is also given a sustainable comedy routine, because women in power are inherently funny.
And there are other typical sustainable and timely comedy routines, like a reference to the live coverage of the green-collar Oscars.
Then comes the bloody marvellous:
The fetish for paying taxes transfers money from the private to the public sector, and there is nothing remotely sustainable about that.
Absolutely. The very last thing we want is a sustainable health system, or sustainable public transport, or sustainable roads, or a sustainable justice or education system.
All these wretched things should be turned over to Chairman Rupert at once, or at least to the private sector. So that the next time you take a crap or run a shower, you'll be supporting a sustainable private sector.
But when you're on a sustainable roll, the Caterist rule is that you keep going, and let the devil take the hindmost:
As Adam Smith once noted, the baker, the butcher and the brewer used not to provide our dinner out of the goodness of their hearts "but from their regards to their own interest".
Actually Adam Smith once noted a helluva lot more, but you'd have to do a Greg Hunt or a Cater and head off to the wiki The Theory of Moral Sentiments:
How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, the emotion we feel for the misery of others, when we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively manner. That we often derive sorrow from the sorrows of others, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any instances to prove it; for this sentiment, like all the other original passions of human nature, is by no means confined to the virtuous or the humane, though they perhaps may feel it with the most exquisite sensibility. The greatest ruffian, the most hardened violator of the laws of society, is not altogether without it.
Sadly Smith got it wrong. The greatest ruffians, the most hardened violators, the Caterists and the Murdochians and the reptiles at the lizard Oz, seem to be completely without it. Whatever it might be. Go on, have a Caterist snigger.
Is there an explanation?
As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation. Though our brother is on the rack, as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers. They never did, and never can, carry us beyond our own person, and it is by the imagination only that we can form any conception of what are his sensations. Neither can that faculty help us to this any other way, than by representing to us what would be our own, if we were in his case. It is the impressions of our own senses only, not those of his, which our imaginations copy. By the imagination, we place ourselves in his situation.
Ah, there it is, the Caterists, besides having a lack of intelligence, have a complete lack of imagination.
By now you'll have guessed that the pond isn't really engaging in actual discussion, debate or argument with the Caterists.
That's because the argument is lazy, shoddy and incoherent, and relies on cheap easy caricatures and stereotypes:
Nowadays, however, we like our businesses to be socially responsible, environmentally aware, ethically orientated, big-hearted Arthurs. Thus the corporate sector has surrendered to the dispiriting dogma of sustainability, the heresy that took hold among the hippies in the late 1960s and mutated into a misanthropic, deep green movement in the 70s. Today it wears a pinstriped suit and sits in the boardroom signing off on the most egregious muddle-headed nonsense in the name of corporate responsibility. Sustainability may present itself as harmless mumbo-jumbo that helps build a brand, but its underlying philosophy is antithetical to freedom and to enterprise.
Uh huh. It turns out that there was a bit of the wiki that the Caterists missed, which was a history of sustainability. Yep, notions of sustainability precede the hippies by a few thousand years, which is why, for its sins, the pond was once made to study the three field system in medieval days.
Conclusion? Well it would seem that the Caterists yearn to return to the days of the great robber barons, presumably on the basis that they funded really good art galleries (like the Frick Collection, and don't you worry about how Frick actually made his fortune).
As for actual sustainability?
Well it turns out that Caterists are glass half full types. Here's how it's done:
Sustainability is Malthusianism for the 21st century: the fallacy that population is growing faster than the available resources and that ruination is just around the corner.
The world viewed through the prism of sustainability is a deeply depressing place in which dreams are discouraged, imagination is restricted and the spirit of progress frowned upon.
Sustainability means never having to say sorry. In 1990 the World Hunger Project calculated that the ecosystem could sustainably support six billion people, and then only if they lived on a vegetarian diet. More than two decades later, with 7.1 billion people living on the planet, global beef production has increased by 5 per cent per capita, pork by 17 per cent and chicken by 82 per cent, and that's not counting the eggs.
The World Food Programme estimates that there are 170 million fewer malnourished people than there were in 1990.
Ah the Erich Segal of unsustainable behaviour, but hang on, hang on, what's that reference to the World Food Programme?
Oh sheesh, it's a United Nations programme, and before you know it we'll be hearing the sounds of the black helicopters and an international conspiracy, and it all happens because nations are being unfairly taxed to create useless statistics for dummies like Cater to deploy. But do go on:
The inconvenient prosperous truth is that the human beings have, since the dawn of time, created more than they used on average over the course of a lifetime.
The happy by-product of an expanding population ever more interconnected is that the sum total of human knowledge grows exponentially.
The energy crisis, the one that is supposed to lie just around the corner, has been creating anxiety since the 1600s when Britain began to run out of firewood. Scarcity spurred the development of coal. The great whale oil crisis of the 1840s stimulated the search for oil. Time after time the coming catastrophe is postponed through abundance, and the inherent dishonesty of sustainability is exposed.
Human ingenuity is an infinitely renewable resource. Prosperity comes from seizing the elements of nature and rearranging their form.
Climate science? Acidification of oceans?
Hush now, humans will have a wonderful time seizing the waves of the oceans and seas and rearranging their form ...
And this naturally brings us back to the Randian notion that wealth has no inherent limitation. Except when you have to go on to welfare, and you have to hope that the Randians and the Caterists didn't get there first and abolish the whole scheme ...
What really can be said about this fatuous level of enormous stupidity?
What's that you say? Sovereign risk? Beware downsides? Risk management? Do some planning? Look before you leap? Have regard to consequences of actions?
What nonsense, what silly corporate blather.
Happily there's a cartoon that's been drawn up just for the Caterists in our midst:
You see, it goes down like this.
Go on, shit in your nest, shit as many times as you like. and then make yourself wealthy by seizing the elements and rearranging their form.
It's Caterist philosophy at its finest ...
And don't you go worrying about leading a modest lifestyle. Let's not have any of that Amish, fundamentalist Christian crap. The more conspicuous the consumption the better. Piss everything against the wall, and keep on pissing, and send it off to the dump and don't worry about any of this do-gooder recycling crap, or any nonsense about having regard to resources and the environment.
Tear up the Hunter Valley in search of coal. There's sure to be another Hunter Valley somewhere else. Bugger the Great Barrier Reef. We can build a new reef out of tyres,
Remember the lord and human ingenuity will provide ...
And if you face some catastrophe as a result, don't come whimpering to the pond. Get in the welfare queue with Ayn Rand ...
Posted by dorothy parker at 1/28/2014 08:14:00 AM