Phillip Pullman

As part of their own small contribution to the war on global warming, Pullman and his wife are having a ground-source heat pump installed in their home, a 17th-century farmhouse near Oxford: “It’s costing a fortune, but it will eventually mean that we burn much less fuel. I can only afford to do it because I’ve got enough money. There should be one in every house in the country – and there would be if the government had the sense to invest in such things. But they lack the courage to break away from this insane obsession with the market. They worship the market. It’s desperately destructive.”

His solution is both drastic and nostalgic, harking back to the era of his birth in 1946: “In the second world war people wouldn’t of their own accord have restricted their eating, so we had rationing. And it worked, because it was universal and everyone had the same rations and you couldn’t buy and sell someone else’s rations.” So we should bring back rationing and to hell with the market? “Absolutely.”

And that, folks, is why we don\’t get our economic ideas from children\’s novelists.

On the heat pump issue he seems to think that government has some magic pot of money, that they can spend upon things without having to take the money from elsewhere.

And abandoning the market in favour of rationing? Well, does anyone actually need to me to detail why this is insane?

12 thoughts on “Phillip Pullman”

  1. Years ago, my dad told me there were broadly two types of socialists: the working class and the academic. The working class was just the ordinary guy who worked hard for a meagre wage and wanted the government to share things more evenly. The academic wanted the government to do a thousand things from their “magic pot of money”.

    I might disagree with them both but I can only respect the former.

    I guess that Pullman writes such good and imaginative books because his thoughts aren’t constrained by reality.

  2. I take it Mr Pullman will voluntarily redistribute his very large income in order to build ground source heat pumps for as many of his less well-off neighbours as he can afford.

  3. Well yeah. If Pullman thinks it’s so important that these heat pumps are installed, why doesn’t he give away money to the community to install heat pumps in *their* houses?

    This is not about Pullman saving the world by making a personal example of himself, it’s about him shelling out his money to make himself look more virtuous.

  4. “the war on global warming” – aha, on a par with The War on Drugs, The War on Cancer, The War on Terrorism and suchlike piffle.

  5. I’m a socialist of the working-class kind – if I want my electricity bill to go down, I turn things off. This also helps the environment.

    Amazing how little things cost when you don’t use them.

  6. OTOH, the “cost a fortune” statement needs to be considered. Under many/most conditions, geothermal heat pumps save money immediately.

    The question is: What is the monthly interest cost on the differential price of the system; and how much is the energy savings?

    Note also that the system also provides air conditioning and hot water (“free” when the system is in air conditioning mode).

    Tim adds: “The question is: What is the monthly interest cost on the differential price of the system; and how much is the energy savings”

    Indeed. And the reason banks are not lending us all the money to install these is that the pay back period is……well, what?

  7. Good question, and the answer is-as one of my profs always said-“it all depends”.
    What alternative types of heat/cool systems are being compared? What is your interest rate? What is your average cost of a kwh? a cct of natural gas? What will they be after Nov 08(for the USA)? Where are you located? Do you have sufficient lot area to install it horizontally or will you need a vertical installation? Just as an example, an 1800 ft2, 2-story, well insulated home in the Ohio river valley area, with an average electricity cost of USD 0.072/kwh, with nat gas at USD1.09/ccf , and an interest rate of 6.05 %: the payback for a geo heat pump vs a 94% eff gas furnace + 3.5 ton AC with a SEER of 12.75 was 16 years. Current average life of compressor for the brand considered is 12-13 years. I’m very happy with my gas furnace.

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    To reply to Phillip Thomas’ comment at the top. The Australian Labor Party figure Kim Beazley Senior once said that when he joined the Party it was full of the cream of the working class, when he retired it was full of the scum of the middle class.

    The problem with socialism in a nut shell.

    Pullman clearly belongs in the second category.

    Still, wasn’t it Michael Foot who said the best period in British history was 1940-41?

  9. everyone had the same rations and you couldn’t buy and sell someone else’s rations.

    Methinks Private Walker and his real life counterparts might disagree.

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