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Beware of rabid zealots

By Ad astra

Let’s remind ourselves of the meaning of ‘zealot’. Historically, it denoted a member of a fanatical sect in Judea during the first century AD that militantly opposed the Roman domination of Palestine. Today it describes a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of religious, political, or other ideals.

We still have zealots in our midst. This piece exemplifies two instances of zealotry: the zealots that deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming, and those that cling tenaciously to trickle down economics.

Climate zealots
It is hard to contemplate that in the face of steadily mounting evidence that our planet is warming inexorably, there are still those who deny it strenuously.

In early August we saw Europe sweltering in record heat. Climate scientists insist that this was due to the superimposition of contemporary weather events, to wit intensely warm air sweeping up from North Africa, on the established and a well documented increase in global temperatures worldwide. Record high temperatures were experienced in Western Europe, particularly in Spain and Portugal. Fires burned out of control.

How do climate deniers explain that?

This year we saw three of California’s biggest wildfires ever.

In the state of Virginia, after six inches of rain fell in just a few hours, floods resulted that were so severe that the College Lake Dam near Lynchburg that holds back millions of litres of water was threatened with collapse. Should that have occurred, the surrounding countryside would have been flooded to a depth of 17 feet in 10 minutes, wiping out all before it. Mass evacuations were carried out just in case the catastrophe occurred. Fortunately it didn’t.

Could these events be a side effect of global warming?

In our own country, we are experiencing one of the worst droughts in our long history of severe droughts. Again, climate scientists implicate global warming. This week’s Essential Poll shows that 54% of respondents agree; only 25% don’t. The scientists assert that such extreme weather events will increase in frequency and severity as the planet warms. The zealots that deny anthropogenic climate change disagree. They argue that we’ve always had such events, and that they represent just ‘normal climate variability’. And they’re still calling for more heavily polluting ‘base-load’ coal-fired power generators as they debate the NEG.

Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce and Co. are still calling for the NEG to be scrapped on the basis of its inappropriate emphasis on reducing emissions! If you have the stomach for it, take a look at the first seven minutes of Abbott being interviewed by Leigh Sales on 7.30.

There is no way of persuading such zealots to another view. Denying global warming is an entrenched belief; no matter how convincing is the evidence to the contrary.

Trickle down zealots
Lets’ look briefly at another example of zealotry: the entrenched belief that giving tax cuts to large corporations is sound policy. It’s what Australia needs, the Coalition insists. Treasurer Morrison, Finance Minister Cormann, PM Turnbull, and all his ministers push this line every time they are challenged about the wisdom of giving tax cuts to large corporations. The argument goes that with less tax to pay, corporations will become more competitive on the world stage, more investment will result, businesses will expand, more jobs will be created, and wages will rise. It stands to reason they say, and to many who have no evidence to judge the validity of their claim, it does sound reasonable, but it’s just good old trickle down economics all over again.

Predictably, following the revelations of the Banking Royal Commission, the public is strongly opposed to giving tax cuts to large corporations, as the Longman by-election showed. This should hardly be a surprise. Alan Stockman, a Republican in Ronald Reagan’s administration way back in the 1980s, admitted ‘Trickle down is hard to sell’.

So what is the evidence to support the ‘trickle down’ theory of economics? None. From when it was first proposed in the 1890s, then known as the ‘horse and sparrow theory’, it has been consistently debunked. To trickle down zealots this is immaterial.

There is a mountain of evidence that corporate tax cuts do not end up in workers’ pockets. The most recent evidence comes from the US where corporate taxes have been cut under the so-called ‘Tax cuts and Jobs Act’ (TCJA). The US Economic Policy Unit has a helpful analysis of what actually happened. Here is some of the Institute’s analysis:

The Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisers released a paper last year arguing that cuts in the statutory corporate tax rate would lead to gains in business investment, productivity, and wages. We noted in the report released shortly thereafter why this was unlikely to be true. The simplest reason that cutting corporate taxes will not boost American productivity or wages is that the past history of corporate tax cuts in the United States shows no such relationship.

A figure in the analysis displaying the top corporate tax rate, productivity growth, and growth in typical workers’ hourly pay since the 1950s, shows clearly that productivity and pay actually grew more rapidly when tax rates were higher.

The analysis concluded:

The case that large, deficit-financed corporate tax cuts will boost capital investment, productivity, and wages in the United States is extraordinarily weak. Evidence from past changes in federal taxes, from cross-national comparisons, and from the experiences of individual U.S. states all argue strongly that wages for typical Americans will not benefit from the tax cuts…All in all, the tax cuts will serve to boost incomes for the already-rich while doing nothing to help the wages of typical American workers.

How much more evidence will convince the trickle down zealots that they are wrong? No amount. They will never be moved from their entrenched views.

Beware of rabid zealots!

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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  1. Matters Not

    The young have started:

    In a blow to young climate activists, a Seattle judge dismissed a lawsuit on Tuesday that alleged Washington state had violated children’s rights by failing to protect them from climate change.

    King County Superior Court Judge Michael Scott wrote that he hopes the 13 young plaintiffs, who range in age from 8 to 18, won’t be discouraged, but there is no right to a healthy environment and a stable climate system codified in the state constitution, the Associated Press reported.

    The road will be long.

    Washington Judge Just Dealt a Blow to the Youth-Led Fight Over Climate Change

    Similar to the Washington state lawsuit, Juliana argues that the federal government has created an energy system that causes climate change and therefore deprives the youth plaintiffs of their “constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.” The US Supreme Court last month allowed Juliana to proceed by halting the Trump administration’s application for a stay. Although Aji P.‘s dismissal in Washington marked a setback for the activists, a favorable decision in Juliana has the potential for sprawling nationwide impact.

    Maybe youth in Australia will be so inclined in the not too distant future.

  2. Wam

    There is no doubt the zealots are those that drive the man made climate theory as there is no zeal in climate change denial. Before all of us who remember – fog and smog – are dead we need to put the zeal into denying and make it easier to agree?

    Similarly the rich know that trickle down doesn’t work but it is quicker than the win – win trickle up methodology.
    Consequently working on the deduction style loopholes to slow the former and quicken the latter could do some good?
    ps the zealots that cause my despair are the murdochian editors and those frightened autocue readers on the morning shows.

  3. Shaun Newman

    Zealots don’t come much more committed than Abbott, Andrews & Co

  4. Graeme Henchel

    I don’t think the Thug is a zealot. This would require some sense of commitment to a position or cause. No Abbott is a deluded failure hell bent on retribution and revenge. He has no principles, no morals, no scruples. Not unlike Turnbull only dumber.

  5. Wun Farlung

    Every time I hear one of the lnp conmen/banksters try to link the corporate tax cuts with international competition I think/mumble to myself, “competition my arse”, If they really wanted to be in the game they would be shooting for a rate lower than the 2 most quoted examples the USA and UK

  6. totaram

    Wun Farlung: There is an argument that if our business tax rate is “not competitive” businesses will relocate to places where the rate is lower. By this logic everyone should now be doing business in Mongolia, where the rate is 10%.

  7. Kyran

    “How much more evidence will convince the trickle down zealots that they are wrong? No amount. They will never be moved from their entrenched views.”
    It’s odd that political enthusiasts can be so far removed from the real world that arguments become academic musings rather than having any application or relevance to ‘the average Joe’ (or Joanne, as the case may be).
    Going back all those years to when little Johnnie started his dog whistling, the political aficionado’s estimated it had political worth in only a few electorates in Queensland and Western Sydney. Decades later, we are meant to believe that zealotry is the new norm and the more rabid your bark, the more popular you’ll be. We now have a multitude of choices for rabid zealots, with new parties appearing frequently. This is construed as a ‘popular’ swing to the right. Notwithstanding the amount of ‘air’ given to these nut jobs, how representative are they of ‘real people’?
    If you want to talk about how they are actually supported by, and representative of, ‘everyday’ people, how do you measure that? If you look at the actual membership of these wannabe political parties, they are somewhere between abysmal and negligible. The two major parties have seen their memberships reduce by half over the past decade, currently sitting around 50k. One notion has an ‘estimated’ membership of 5,000. The plethora of ultra conservative ‘parties’ on offer have miniscule memberships. As for funding, these parties are busy trying to stay solvent, becoming increasingly reliant on AEC funding and subsidy.
    So the question of “How much more evidence will convince the … zealots that they are wrong?” becomes one of academic pondering. We talk about these fools and their inadequacy a lot, and then wonder why ‘everyday’ people aren’t engaged in ‘politics’.
    Just to pose another possibility, could it be that ‘everyday people’ are very engaged, just showing it a different way? Notwithstanding the protestations of so many conservative politicians, GetUp is not a political party but a grass roots organization fueled by member’s interests in ‘social justice’ issues.
    They have a ‘membership’ north of 1mill everyday Aussies (and growing – even Erica Betz is a member!) and their capacity to fundraise makes the established political groups angry in their envy.
    Another recent phenomenon is the ‘Sleeping Giants’ group. What started as a popular movement in America targeting Breitbart has become a global activist program. The recent campaigns against Murdoch’s NewsCorpse entities have produced results, not the least of which is hilarious hysteria in his troubled empire.
    “True Democracy is more valuable than censorship” screamed the daily terrorgraph, in one of the most tenuous links ever attempted. A group advocates corporate entities to choose wisely where they spend their advertising dollar. Isn’t that capitalism in action? The tenuous bit is the suggestion that this is censorship. Nothing was said to SkyNews about what they say or who they promote. It merely pointed out to the corporate advertisers that they were complicit by their advertising dollar and therefore liable to be punished. Isn’t that the essence of democracy and free speech? By all means, spruik whatever garbage you like, but remember you are accountable for your garbage. How the heck is that censorship? Weren’t these ‘libertarians’ all about personal accountability?
    “Sleeping Giants Oz is the Aussie spin off of a US campaign that works by using social media to pressure advertisers into withdrawing support for so-called hate speech.
    Against the ultra-right-wing site Breitbart in particular, the US Sleeping Giants group has achieved success resulting in nearly 4,000 companies adding the site to their programmatic advertising blacklists.”

    Even the timid Aunty has had a look at this sort of activism and how the established entities are becoming more outraged because they are losing their imagined monopoly on outrage.

    The conversations about the imagined growth of zealotry are only of interest in an academic or abstract sense.
    Real people seem to have come to terms with the maxim that ‘Hell hath no fury like a zealot scorned’, showing little interest in the ensuing conflagration. The zealots seem consumed by the fact that they can no longer push about their rabid fetid ‘opinions’ with impunity.
    Thank you Ad astra and commenters. Take care

  8. Zathras

    One thing about zealots – particularly religious ones – is that most know deep down what they say is untrue but are yet to admit it to themselves.

    Some never do, but their apparent sense of false confidence is able to convince others who are unwilling to think independently, so you can indeed fool some of the people all of the time. There’s no other explanation for Abbott’s rusted-on supporters. Logic simply doesn’t work.

  9. Kerri

    If you need confirmation of the generosity of wealthy employers watch the linked film below.
    It is 1.38 minutes but outlines clearly the most prominent case of big business generosity towards its workforce.

  10. astra5

    Again, I thank you all for your thoughtful and comprehensive contributions that add so much to the dialogue evoked by this piece. I enjoyed reading them all.

    The suggestion that Abbott (who features so prominently in this piece) is hellbent on destruction and revenge is evidenced every time he opens his mouth; I suppose whether or not he is a zealot is an academic question. That he has no principles, morals, or scruples is not – that is self-evident.

    I’ll take a look at the Walmart video Kerri when I’m back on ‘unlimited usage’ in town.

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