When Lady Liberty arrived in New York

It was on June 17th, 1885, that 200,000 people went to the docks at New York to greet the French steamer Isère as it arrived with the Statue of Liberty. The statue was not in one piece. Having been put together in France, it was disassembled and put into crates for its transatlantic voyage.

The statue, made of copper sculpted by Frédéric Auguste Barthold clad onto an interior framework built by Gustave Eiffel, was a gift from the French people to those of the United States. Based on the Roman goddess of liberty, she holds a torch in her right hand and a tablet in her left hand, inscribed with the Roman numerals that represent July 4th, 1776, the date of America’s Declaration of Independence. At her feet is a broken shackle and chain to denote the recent abolition of slavery in the US.

Visitors can climb inside it via 2 spiral staircases leading to an observation deck in her crown. Lifts were installed during renovations. Access to the torch via a long, narrow ladder is now restricted to staff, but originally the public could ascend. There is a brass plate, originally mounted inside the pedestal, but now in the museum in the statue’s base, that contains the famous words of “The New Colossus,” a sonnet by Emma Lazarus.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Generations of immigrants were inspired by the sight of Lady Liberty as they sailed into New York, though some might have felt misgivings at being described as “wretched refuse.” She has been a powerful symbol of freedom ever since she arrived there herself. She reminds us to keep aloft the light of liberty, and to value the constitutions that protect it.

Her fame is such that she has appeared in many movies. The torch was the location of the climax of director Alfred Hitchcock's 1942 movie “Saboteur.” The statue’s most famous appearance was in the 1968 picture “Planet of the Apes,” in which it was seen at the end, half-buried in the sand. It was toppled in the science-fiction film “Independence Day,” and in “Cloverfield” it was beheaded by the monster.

The Statue continues to inspire to this day, and sees troops of schoolchildren and tourists visiting her to learn about the value of liberty and the need to guard it. Some think democracy is an end in itself, but the statue reminds us that it is a means to an end, and that liberty is that end. The US is not a democracy, though democracy is embedded in its fabric. It is instead a Republic, one whose Constitution was designed to protect the liberty the statue represents.

Finally, a sensible drug policy

We agree that we’ve been a little stentorian in our critique of current drug policy. We argue for full legalisation - with certain limitations upon who may partake of course - of all drugs. Not just decriminalisation. Partly on the grounds of simple civil liberty - consenting adults get to do as consenting adults, absent third party harm, wish. But also on the grounds of harm reduction.

The problem, for example, with heroin is not heroin. It’s shared and dirty needles, the brick dust it can be cut with as a result of the illegality, the variable doses as a result of the same illegality, the dealing conducted to afford it as a result of the illegality and - well, it’s the illegality. Someone taking pharmaceutical grade heroin in measured doses with clean gear at the prices of an actual legal and free market isn’t a problem other than the possible wasting of that particular life’s potential.

This is thus good policy:

Heroin addicts are to be given free supplies of the illegal class A drug as the Home Office awards the UK’s first licences for “shooting galleries.”

The controversial move is being led by the police and crime commissioner and doctors in Cleveland who will use medicinal grade heroin in a last-ditch bid to wean “hard-core” addicts off the drug.

Under the Home Office licence approved this month, the addicts will inject themselves up to three times a day supervised by health staff at a centre open seven days a week from the Autumn. Without the licence, anyone caught possessing heroin can be jailed for up to seven years.

There is another reason we know this is good policy, not just that reasoning from first principles. It’s that this is not that far away from what used to be policy. Those decades and decades back addicts used to be prescribed their heroin. As a result there was none of that dealing in order to finance, no attempts to suck in new users in order to gain the customer base off which profits to continue consumption could be gained. The abolition of this system certainly coincided with - we would argue caused - the mass expansion of the addiction problem itself.

We are moralists here in the sense that we think it moral for every adult to carve out their own life according to their own desires - that’s the liberty and freedom thing. But above that we’re pragmatists. What system solves, as best can be done in this complex world, the problem under discussion? Given that the major problem with heroin is the illegality of the drug then legal provision is going to solve it.


Venezuela Campaign: The destruction of Venezuela’s oil industry

Venezuela is an oil-rich nation. Oil is Venezuela’s biggest export, largest foreign currency earner, and it has the largest proven reserves in the world. It therefore stands to reason that Venezuela would take a prominent place amongst the OPEC nations. However, nearly two decades of corruption and incompetence have rendered Venezuela’s oil industry impotent. OPEC’s June 2019 report on the oil market suggests that Venezuela’s oil production has shrunk to just 741,000 barrels per day, sharply down from the 1.9 million barrels produced in 2017 and tiny when compared to Saudi Arabia’s the 9.7 million barrels per day. This is a stunning collapse in the Venezuelan oil industry, which produced 3.6 million barrels when Chavez came to power in 1998. Today’s production is just 20% of that level and below that achieved in the 1940s.

The speed of the recent collapse obscures its long-term causes. Venezuela’s oil production has not dwindled because of US sanctions (the US continued to buy Venezuelan oil until March 2019), but because decades of underinvestment have eroded its ability to extract and refine oil. Venezuela earned more than $1 trillion in oil revenues during Hugo Chavez’s presidency. If even a little of this money had been reinvested into the oil industry together with some sensible policymaking, then Venezuela could be producing seven times as much oil as it currently does. Instead, for almost two decades Venezuela’s oil wealth has been stolen, misused, or squandered, first by Chavez, then by his successor Nicholas Maduro.

Firstly, members of the regime, especially Chavez’s family and close associates, have enriched themselves through larceny of the highest degree. Chavez’s daughter is worth an estimated $4 billion, his former driver $1 billion, and myriad other former ministers and hangers-on have squirrelled away untold sums in various offshore account and overseas properties. Many are now under investigation by authorities around the world for corruption, and their frivolous spending is being revealed in lurid detail within court documents.

Secondly, Chavez began using oil to increase his political power both domestically and internationally. Venezuela has supplied Cuba with large quantities of oil in return for security and intelligence support essential to the survival of the Chavista regime. Cuba still receives about 55,000 barrels of highly subsidised oil a day, as well as shipments of petrol, despite pervasive petrol shortages in Venezuela that require citizens to queue for days. Chavez similarly provided heavily subsidised oil to neighbouring Caribbean countries through the so-called ‘Petrocaribe’ initiative to buy their political and diplomatic support in international fora such as the UN. Some money was also used to intervene in foreign elections.

Thirdly, oil revenues were squandered through indiscriminate subsidies. Petrol is heavily subsidised in Venezuela, so much is stolen by regime insiders and sold abroad. In keeping with this theme, energy subsidies accounting for some 20 per cent of oil revenues have largely benefitted the better-off. Chavez further wasted money on consumption subsidies to buy domestic political support. These measures had no sustainable effect in reducing poverty and progress was quickly reversed when money ran out.

Lastly, Chavez wasted huge sums on grandiose state-owned industrial projects such as the Iranian-built Cerro Azul cement plant. Many of Chavez’s vanity projects never started production, and those that did failed to meet their expected production output, typically due to incompetent management. Nowhere is this more evident than in the energy sector, which cannot consistently keep the lights on.

Aside from chronic underinvestment, Venezuela’s oil industry has also suffered from a skills shortage. After a general strike in 2002-03, Chavez fired 20,000 employees of the state oil company PDVSA. Unfortunately, those 20,000 employees were mostly engineers, managers, and geologists; Chavez replaced them with unqualified political supporters. For a while the industry was still helped by foreign experts, but in 2007 Chavez nationalised the assets of foreign oil companies and forced them out of the country. This expropriation has of course ended foreign investment in the oil industry, exacerbating the overall lack of investment. Maduro has responded to Venezuela’s oil crisis by doubling down on Chavez’s policies, recently appointing a General to head PDVSA.

Oil industry experts are damning in their verdict; according to Jose Bodas, general secretary of the Oil Workers Federation trade union, “what we are witnessing is a policy of destroying the oil industry”. Reversing decades of destruction will be a difficult and time-consuming task. New laws will be required to permit desperately needed foreign investment and expertise. PDVSA must be cleansed of corrupt and incompetent staff and a culture of professionalism reinstated. High quality specialists will need to return to collapsed Venezuela. The sooner Maduro leaves power, the sooner Venezuela can begin the long process of rebuilding.

More information on the Venezuela Campaign can be found on their website

A tribute to Adam Smith

Adam Smith, born on June 16th, 1723, was the founder of modern economics. One of the biggest mistakes made by enemies of the free markets he praised is the notion that he stood for self-serving behaviour, and claimed it served the common good. This is far from what he did say. In his “Theory of Moral Sentiments,” published in 1759, 17 years before his “Wealth of Nations,” he asserted that the most salient human characteristic is our propensity to share sympathy with our fellow human beings. In modern terms we would today call that “empathy.” We identify with our fellow men and women.

“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune 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 which 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 sorrow of others, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any instances to prove it.”

What Smith is telling us is that we are social animals, not atomistic individuals. We live among our fellow humans and we interact and exchange with them. We identify with them and share their sorrows and joys by reflection. We behave morally towards them because we value their esteem. Indeed, we construct in our minds an “impartial spectator” who represents them, and sees our behaviour from their point of view rather than our own. When tempted to behave in our exclusive self-interest, that inner spectator cautions us that those whose respect we seek will not value us if we do.

This impacts on our economic behaviour. When the butcher, the brewer and the baker provide us with our dinner, they do so from their desire to advance their own welfare, and not from benevolence. But they are human beings and want to behave morally and decently to us. They must not cheat us, because exchange is founded on trust. We pay money for their meat, beer and bread because we prefer that meat, beer and bread to the money they cost us. We value them differently than their producers. They would rather have the money; we would rather have the dinner. Both of us gain something of greater value when the exchange takes place if it takes place honestly. We create wealth when we trade. And because each of them specializes, they can give us better value than if we produced such goods ourselves. But trade depends on trust.

In university economics lecturers often teach that we buy from the cheapest supplier. If any of them had any experience of business they would learn that people like to rely on long-term relationships of trust. You like to deal with people you are comfortable with. You often choose to avoid the risks that come with an unknown contact by sticking with a relationship you know is founded on mutual trust, perhaps with people you have dealt with over the years and whom you know you can rely on.

The point is that while we are motivated to engage in what Smith called “the uniform, constant, and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition,” (and every woman, too), we do so within a moral framework. We don’t cease to be human beings when we buy and sell things. That is the subtlety that Smith’s latterday critics fail to grasp.

A most revealing line about climate change

It’s amazing what people will enable themselves to believe. The source of this is:

Susanna Rustin is a Guardian leader writer

The statement is:

If the world is to come together as we need it to, human values will have to assert themselves over the forces of capital.

The solution to climate change is that priority of human values over capital.

Now, it may well be true that someone whose living is made writing leaders for The Guardian thinks that the power of capital must be abolished. We’d rather think it comes with the territory. But to think that the solution to climate change is going to require that is an error. Actually, it’s a delusion.

Firstly because all do indeed say that massive investment is required in order to avoid climate change. And what the heck is investment other than the deployment of the forces of capital?

But even if we talk about “capitalism” this is still not true. The problem being identified is that we humans like to consume, like having more. The assertion is that we can’t have that if we’re to beat climate change. And yet that desire to have more isn’t anything to do with capital or capitalism - they’re just the effective means of meeting that innate human desire. That East Germans fled across the Wall if they could - actually, that East Germans were fleeing to cause the building of the Wall - shows that the absence of capitalism doesn’t remove the desire for that more.

Then, finally, in empirical detail, we also know that the absence of capitalism doesn’t lead to that absence of climate change. In the standard economic models used to even predict the existence of climate change itself we have studies of what the world will could like in that future. With and without globalisation, with and without capitalism and free markets. The one that leaves humans with what they want, those increased riches and also no climate change, is the capitalist and free market one, globalised, using more renewables and fewer fossil fuels. A1T in the naming jargon of those economic models.

The various socialised/socialist models studied produce very much worse outcomes. So it isn’t just projection to worry about here, it’s an actual ignorance of the subject under discussion. Which perhaps isn’t the best way of producing newspapers.

National Beer Day in the UK

The date of June 15th was designated National Beer Day in the UK to celebrate English ale. It was chosen because it was the date on which King John signed and set his seal to the Magna Carta in the meadows at Runnymede.

In the Middle Ages it was a staple drink of England, brewed and drunk everywhere and by all classes. It was drunk at every meal because it was safer than water - alcohol kills germs. Such is our historic acquaintance with it that we have an enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), to help metabolize it. Those who drank beer survived in greater proportion than those who drank water. In the Far East those who drank tea survived because it involved boiling the water. East Asians have a lower alcohol tolerance because they never drank it to survive, and did not inherit the enzyme.

Beer is quintessentially English. It is top fermented, and traditionally finished its fermentation in casks in the cellars of public houses. It contrasts with bottom fermented beers popular in Continental Europe, which include the light coloured pilsners that only became popular in Britain in the second half of the 20th Century.

Before the use of hops gradually became widespread from the 15th Century, an uphopped beer was called an ale, with the term “beer” reserved for those made with hops, and brewers could originally make either, but not both. Magistrates and officials were not interested in limiting the amount produced or the quantity drunk, but in ensuring it was of the appropriate quality and strength. A 1577 survey of pubs in England and Wales, done for tax purposes, lists 14,202 alehouses, 1,631 inns, and 329 taverns, representing one pub for every 187 people. The 1830 Beerhouse Act enabled anyone to brew and sell beer and cider, either from a pub, or from their own home. It led to hundreds of new pubs setting up. It was passed to reduce the excessive consumption of gin, “the quickest way out of Manchester.”

Public Health England has a more Puritan attitude, advising no more that 14 units of alcohol a week. This works out at about 5 pints a week of a cask-conditioned ale. The claim is that by choosing an absurdly low number they will prompt drinkers to limit their consumption, whereas the reality is that people just ignore the recommendation, knowing that it was plucked out of the air with no scientific basis to support it.

There are probably health risks associated with beer, as there are with most things, but there are positive aspects too. Beer promotes social interactions as people drink with friends, and it lowers levels of stress, which is reckoned to be among the causes of early death.

Beer has been part of our culture. It almost certainly sustained the archers who fought at Agincourt, and it was always a feature of what is appropriately named “Merrie England.” The nannies and killjoys disapprove, as they do of everything that brings pleasure, but on National Beer Day, we’ll drink a toast and wish good health to everyone else.

One of the things about government is that it's just so wasteful

That poor people have a roof over their heads is just one of those things we’re going to ensure in a just or even reasonable society. That everyone gets taxed in order to do something that just doesn’t need doing is less of a goal of reasonable public policy. And yet giving government the job does seem to mean both rather than just the one we’re aiming at:

A flagship Government housing programme has lent billions of pounds to house buyers, the majority of whom would have been able to purchase a property without the scheme’s support.

Help to Buy was launched in April 2013 by former chancellor George Osborne as a way of getting more first-time buyers onto the property ladder. It has been used to support more than 200,000 purchases.

However, a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO) shows that three-fifths of users could have afforded a house regardless, even if it was not necessarily their ideal home.

Almost a third of all buyers, equivalent to 65,000 households, would have been able to purchase the exact same property without the support of the scheme.

The report also highlighted that thousands of high earners have taken advantage, with around 4pc of users having household incomes over £100,000.

There are many things that is is desirable get done. There are things that must be done and that can only be done by government. Our problems near always stem from the extension of that second point to that first - if it’s desirable that it gets done then government must do it.

And yet government is a very blunt instrument, it’s really not efficient at any of the things it tries to do. Where the “must” comes into play then we can shrug and agree that that’s just a cost of doing what is essential. But everywhere else we should be doing the actual hard work of pondering whether the inefficiency wipes out any benefit of the policy.

This is before we consider the actual policy under discussion, the amazing silliness of dealing with high prices by subsidising demand.

Does Justice have a Price?

A rather superior judge once told me that justice has no price.  I was grumbling at the time about the poor value provided by the Crown Prosecution Service and the crime universities otherwise known as prisons. A classic example of this indifference was provided last week by a House of Commons Justice Committee report addressing sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPPs).

In 2005, the government decided that dangerous violent and sexual offenders should remain in jail until the Parole Board decided otherwise. In 2012, the Coalition government decided otherwise: IPPs were “not defensible” and were abolished. Except, with the logic peculiar to Westminster, they were retained for prisoners already incarcerated. Lord McNally, speaking for the government, gave the Alice in Wonderland defence that “lawfully imposed” sentences could not be altered simply because they had been shown to be wrong: “At the end of March 2019 there were still around 2,400 prisoners serving IPPs.”

“Across England and Wales, it cost an average of £37,543 a year to keep a prisoner in jail last year [2018]. That was up 6.1% from £35,271 in 2016/17.” In other words, it is costing the taxpayer over £90M to keep people in prison who, on the governments own reckoning, should not be there. With this attitude it is not surprising that our prisons are overcrowded and too expensive.

Back in September 2008, the Chief Inspector of Prisons made a damning report on IPPs: “There are now nearly 8,000 more prisoners in the system than the average for 2005. (…) It led to IPP prisoners languishing in local prisons for months and years, unable to access the interventions they would need before the expiry of their often short tariffs. A belated decision to move them to training prisons, without any additional resources and sometimes to one which did not offer relevant programmes, merely transferred the problem. By December 2007, when there were 3,700 IPP prisoners, it was estimated that 13% were over tariff [i.e. had already served the conventional term]. As a consequence, the Court of Appeal found that the Secretary of State had acted unlawfully.”

Government was not wholly to blame: the judiciary had responded to IPPs with such enthusiasm that they were handing them out to offenders who would otherwise have merited only short sentences. It should have been clear from the original intent that IPPs were to be used only for those few who did not quite justify life sentences.

Also in 2008, the House of Commons Justice Committee recognised that this created a Catch 22: those who should have been on short sentences did not have the time or assistance in jail to make their cases to the Parole Board and were therefore never let out.

The National Audit Office drew attention to this problem in 2013 and 2017.

This nonsense should have been resolved ten years ago and yet Justice Ministry continues to fail. Bureaucracy and indifference to value for money lie at the heart of the problem. Furthermore ambiguity and unfairness undermines deterrence. Whether government or the judiciary are to blame for the original muddle over IPP sentences is debatable but the Justice Ministry is certainly responsible for the continuing waste of prisoners’ lives, the waste of taxpayers’ money and ambiguity about how, if ever, IPP prisoners will be given the support to which they are entitled and, where appropriate, be allowed out of jail.

The 2019 Justice Committee’s Report cited above concludes on page 20: “Of IPP prisoners who have never been released, the majority (91% at the latest count) have passed their tariff expiry date. Of these, around two thirds (64%) were more than 5 years over the expiry of their original tariff length. One in five (20%) of those who were over their tariff length were over it by 8 years or more.”

The inability of prisoners to be released is in marked contrast to the speed with which Justice Secretaries leave the Ministry. After Chris Grayling served three years, we have had four in little more than four years. None of them, it would appear, considered that long enough to redress this obvious injustice and thereby enhance taxpayer value. Prompt justice costs less.

Donald Trump and the Stars and Stripes were born today

President Donald Trump was born on June 14th, 1946, and turns 73 today. The United States Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as its flag, replacing the Grand Union flag, on June 14th, 1777, making it 142 years old. It substituted stars for the old British flag at the top left, and has seen more stars added as more states were admitted to the Union over the years. The most recent additions were Alaska, then Hawaii, in 1959. The stripes, representing the original British colonies, remain at 13.

Many peoples have been saved from oppression under that flag. It provided forces that helped liberate Europe in two World Wars, and led the UN forces that brought freedom to South Korea. It led the coalition that freed Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's conquest. It was the backbone of NATO over the years in which it confronted Soviet aggression until victory in the Cold War and the liberation of the captive peoples of Eastern and Central Europe.

Donald Trump is symbolic of a movement that has gained strength in other countries. It is a disenchantment with conventional politics, and a rejection of political élites. People in many countries have come to the view that the political establishments no longer represent their attitudes and their values, and are neither interested in their problems, not capable of addressing them. Several undercurrents are behind this. Some of it might be the Financial Crisis of 2008-09, and the sluggish growth or real wage rises that followed. It has to be said, though, that the turning away from political élites was evident before the crisis. Part of it is because government has become increasingly bureaucratized and remote from the people it should be serving. This has been particularly apparent in EU countries.

Part of it has been the widening gulf between the priorities of the ruling class and those of ordinary citizens. In the UK we speak of "the Westminster bubble," a part of the country cut off from the outside, and with little knowledge of it or concern for it. Those in "the bubble," (which is much broader than Westminster since it includes academics and media people), share a set of attitudes with those who move in the same circles, and recoil with disdain at those who do not share them.

In the US they talk of "the Beltway," meaning the ring that encloses Washington DC, the company town whose business is government. It includes the urban élites of the "wet" states, the coasties of New York and Los Angeles who sneer at the rest of America as "the flyover states." I saw someone from one of those belittled states being interviewed at the time of the last Presidential election.

“I’m trying to keep my job and feed my family,” he said, “but all I ever hear from them is transgender this and transgender that. When are they going to do something about my problems?”

It is part of a wider feeling that those in the bubble and the Beltway are more concerned with virtue signalling and proving their political correctness than in solving the everyday problems of the people they are supposed to represent. They have become a new class, a self-perpetuating élite who tell everyone else how to live, rather than letting them choose how to. Their children’s fizzy drinks are taxed, and they are told how many grams of bacon to eat per week, but the problems are that rents and house prices are too high and it’s a struggle to get to work in the morning, or home safe at night.

In the UK this dissatisfaction expressed itself in the EU referendum of 2016, when Parliament delegated to the people the choice of remaining in the EU or leaving it. The people voted leave, and many of those in the bubble have been trying thwart that decision ever since, believing that the people who voted against their own mindset are wrong and stupid. The popular disgust at the political class expressed itself again in the 2019 Euro elections, when the new Brexit Party topped the polls.

It is a fault of the EU that most of those who go there turn native, and adopt its anti-democratic values. It is similarly a fault of the UK and the US that those whom people send to represent them go native and end up representing only themselves and their fellow élite. Trump and Brexit showed that breaking point had been reached. So, on June 14th we wish a happy birthday to the President of the United States, and to the flag that for so many years has prevented anyone other than our own people from oppressing us.

There's nothing innumerate about Hammond's £1 trillion bill for climate change avoidance

There’s a not so subtle important detail to the arguments about the costs of avoiding climate change. Between whether that avoidance is worth it and whether it will have costs. That detail being the thing that is being glossed over here by Ambrose Evans Pritchard:

Hammond's £1 trillion bill for hitting net zero is innumerate nonsense

As ever we’re just assuming that the standard science here is correct. Stern, Nordhaus, that the economics of the situation is as they say - and we’re not getting into discussions of whether the underlying climate part of climate science is right or wrong.

We’ve two entirely different points to consider here. The first is whether there are costs to trying to avoid climate change? Yes, obviously and of course there are. Stern himself tells us we need to spend 1 or 2% of GDP on that avoidance. That’s a cost. Pulling down extant coal fired power stations to replace with windmills has a cost. Throwing out every gas boiler and space heater - there’s even an insistence out there that every cooker must go - to replace with electric has a cost.

There simply are costs here.

The second and different question is whether those costs are worth it? It could be that we agree with Stern’s reading of what the discount rate should be, what we now owe that future, could be we don’t. That is though a very different question.

There simply is no doubt that there’s a bill to be paid now to avoid climate change while the benefits of having avoided it come later. Actually, those benefits not only come later they come to other and richer people.

Do note that this distinction still allows of any answer that pleases you to the second question. But the answer to the first is clearly and obviously yes.

Think the logic through for a moment. Buying a house now on a 30 year mortgage means that in 2049 we’ll be living rent free - a benefit. That doesn’t change the fact that handing over the cash now, or financing the loan over those decades, is a cost now, does it?

The importance of the distinction being as Stern himself has pointed out. If we decide to use expensive means of gaining that future benefit then we will do less of that avoidance. Simply because that’s what we humans do, less of more expensive things. Which is the argument in favour of not having grand plans to replace everything, overturn the structure of society and so on. These things are more expensive than just dealing with the specific problem to hand. Therefore if we try them then we’ll do less of that actual aim, avoidance of climate change.

Another way to put this is that of course there are costs to avoiding climate change. If it was all painless then we’d not have the original problem, would we? And that people are arguing that the law must be changed to force us to change our behaviour is all the evidence we need that avoidance is not a zero cost path of action. Because if it were that lowest cost path then we’d all be doing it without compulsion, wouldn’t we?