I’ve been enjoying a fine smorgasbord of speakers and ideas at the Centre for Independent Studies’ Consilium in Coolum. A highlight has been a session titled ‘The Language of Denial: Freedom of Speech in an Age of Political Correctness’, featuring James Allan, super smart Canadian law professor formerly at Otago and now at the University of Queensland.  Janet Albrechtsen, columnist with The Australian and a regular guest speaker at Business Roundtable events, Brendan O’Neill, editor of The UK’s Spiked, and Thilo Sarrazin, author of Germany Abolishes Itself (the publication of which forced him to resign from his role as a Bundesbank director).

The session covered the chilling effects on free expression of political correctness in such matters as the science behind climate change, immigration, religion, the plight of Australia’s Aboriginal people, the justification of ‘hate speech’ laws, and the problems posed by the newfound prominence of Islam in Western society.  While Australia’s problems in this regard are greater and more complex than ours, there are plenty of lessons here for New Zealand. 

Less edifying was a session titled ‘An Uncertain Harvest: Investigating Global Food Security’. Malthus seemed to have a couple of seats at the table in a round of agonizing about food security and whether the world can feed its population in the 21st century.

I made the point that food security is often the code word for agricultural protectionism. It has been the excuse for the common agricultural policy and protection of Japan’s rice farmers, for example. If markets are allowed to work, trading is free, and property rights and contracts are secure, it is hard to see why global supply and demand will not balance over the longer term.  As one delegate said, there’s never been a famine in a democracy.  



4 thoughts on “FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  1. Pingback: Democracies don’t have famines « Homepaddock

  2. Well maybe democracies have caused food security issues, i.e. diversion to biofuels.

    Is the PCness about how climate change isnt happening or happening? Not clear where you stand. It’s hard to believe that PC is out of control with respect to climate change when there are no serious plans to stop climate change. Isn’t this a bit like the offensive guy thinking his freedom is being impinged because nobody likes his racist jokes? Would be nice to hear that journalisms desire for balance was the problem i.e. in giving equal time to cranks.

    For the record I think people with no concern for the consequences of climate change are scientifically incorrect so perhaps they suffer from the backlash that goes with being wrong rather than a PC conspiracy? But that is only in the sphere of discourse, unfortunately we dont have many inspiring business leaders who will stick up for taking a pragmatic concern for the environment.

    I hope NZ can regain its dignity here, and not become a luddite laughing stock.

  3. First of all, its not “climate change” but AGW. Second what we need isn’t pragmatic but rather principled business leaders who understand that the standard by which we have to judge things is human life. Are things beneficial to our lives or are they detrimental to them? The trees or the rivers or the wild life do not have an intrinsic value i.e. value in and of themselves. Any rational environmental policy should recognize:

    1- That the standard of value is man’s life
    2- The basic Aristotelian wisdom that that which nobody owns, nobody will care for.

    to declare that nature has an intrinsic value apart from any valuer is a misunderstanding of the concept value. Nature is always destroying it self, wiping out species and evolving new ones. Nature doesn’t value itself because it can’t.

    I have yet to hear a solution that does not sacrifice man’s freedom to nature.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s