Banning cars and flights:
The European Commission on Monday unveiled a \”single European transport area\” aimed at enforcing \”a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers\” by 2050.
\”That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres,\” he said. \”Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour.\”
The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.
Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto \”alternative\” means of transport.
Top of the EU\’s list to cut climate change emissions is a target of \”zero\” for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU\’s future cities.
No, that isn\’t what you do.
Start from the point that climate change is happening, that it\’s a problem and we\’ve got to do something about it.
Those of you who don\’t accept that, well, sorry: but the point is that even if you do banning certain technologies isn\’t the way to take action.
So, we need to limit emissions. Great, super. In fact, we\’re told that we need to reduce emissions by 80%.
That means that we will still be allowed, in 2050, to have 20% of the emissions that we currently make.
So which emissions should we still be making and which will we have consigned to the dustbin of history?
Well, if we\’re to be sensible about it, we will still be making those emissions which we value the most and not making those emissions which we value less. Which leads us on to, how do we determine which are the more valuable emissions and which the less valuable?
Which is where we meet one of the great misunderstandings of economics. There are still those who insist that there is some true value, some knowable and absolute measure. Sometimes this is the Labour Theory of Value that all too many get hung up upon. You know, the drooling Marxists and the rest. But there\’s many more who offer up other, similarly wrong, ideas. The various prodnoses who insist that booze or fags have no value. Or that, in various Green circles, travel or mobility has no value. Or even meat at times…..those who calculate how we could all live off granola instead of juicy little lambs for example.
What they are all missing is one of the central points of neo-classical economics (yes, it turned up earlier as well but it was neo-classical economics that really encoded it…..and yes, we do nearly all acept that the neo-classicals were, at root, correct on this and several other matters).
Value is subjective. It is in the eye of the beholder. The consumer.
Value is not what some campaigner thinks we should value, not what some bureaucrat will change the law to make us value: it is what we actually do value.
So, we face having to create a restriction on the emissions that can be made. But we also want those emissions that can be made, that scarce resource, to provide the greatest value, the greatest human utility, that we can. And that value, that utility, is not decided by pallid pencil dicks in Brussels, but by us, the people, individually.
Which means that we do not want to go and ban certain technologies at the say so of said pallid pencil dicks. We want to have a free market in our scarce resource. There will be those who value being able to fly to Southern Europe more than they value the pain and grief of insulating their house so that it is a zero emissions one. There will be those who value a juicy steak more than a flight. Those who would take a Model T for a run more than they would other options.
We can go further. A ban on a particular technology is an admission from those doing the banning that some would indeed choose that technology. No point in banning it if no one would use it, is there? Thus the ban is exactly an admission that they would make us all poorer in order to advance their plans.
At which point, of course, we should tell the banners to fuck off.
Cajoling people is just fine, exhorting them, providing them with options, developing new technologies, all just completely dandy. But bans on cars, or flights, booze, fags, meat, mobility, trade: garn\’ matey, sling yer \’ook.