Lubos Motl writes with insight gained from the Czech experience with imposed Communism in his blog article CO2 emissions, “cases”, … fanatical leftists love to worship meaningless quantities as measures of well-being. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
Leftists hate money and the conversion of things to money. Why is it so? In the old times, the leftists were the losers who didn’t have much money. The decision based on the “maximization of money” was a decision usually made by “some other people, e.g. the capitalists”, and those may have had different interests than the Marxist losers, and that’s why the Marxist losers generally didn’t like the decisions based on the maximization of the financial benefits. They had a low influence on the society’s decision making (because they were broke) and the interests of the capitalists weren’t always the same as the interests of the Marxist losers. (In reality, what was in the interest in the capitalists was ultimately good for the Marxist losers as well but the latter just didn’t understand it.)
That is the likely reason why the leftists always wanted to switch to some “more objective” measures of well-being. They saw all “subjective” (i.e. money-based) decisions to be dominated by evil people, the class of enemies. Where did this leftist strategy go?
Well, during the 40 years of communism in Czechoslovakia,
the communist party often mindlessly wanted to
maximize the production of coal and steel in tons.
Steel and coal are just two major examples that were used to “objectively measure the well-being”. You may see that within a limited context, there was a grain of truth in it. The more machines we make, the more hard work they may replace, and we need steel and coal for all those good things. But the range of validity of this reasoning was unavoidably very limited. They could have used the U.S. dollars (e.g. the total GDP, or in sustainable salaries) to measure the well-being (that should be maximized by the communist plans) but that would already be bad according to their ideology. Needless to say, it was a road to hell because in the long run, there is no reason why “tons of steel or coal” should be the same thing as “well-being” or “happiness”. And it’s not. We kept on producing lots of steel and coal that was already obsolete, that was helping to preserve technologies and industries that were no longer needed, helpful, or competitive, and the production of coal and steel substantially decreased after communism fell in 1989. We found out that we could get richer despite producing less steel and coal!
In 1989, communism was defeated and humiliated but almost all the communist rats survived. This collective trash has largely moved to the environmentalist movement that became a global warehouse for the Bolshevik human feces, also known as the watermelons. They are green on the surface but red (Bolsheviks) inside. They were willing to modify some details of their ideology or behavior but not the actual core substance. The detail that they modified was to “largely switch the sign” and consider the coal and steel to be evil.
Instead of maximizing steel and coal, the goal became to minimize the CO2 emissions.
The obsession with the CO2 emissions (which now carry the opposite sign: CO2 emissions are claimed to be bad!) is similar to the obsession of the Leninists and Stalinists with the maximization of the steel and coal production except that the current watermelons, the gr@tins of the world, are far more fanatical and unhinged than the Leninists and Stalinists have ever been. And one more thing has changed: these new, green Marxists promote these “objective measures of well-being” because it reduces the freedom, wealth, and power of everyone else. In that sense, they are still Marxists. However, they don’t protest against some people’s getting very rich as long as it is them. By this not so subtle change, we are facing a new class of Marxists who are still Marxists (more fanatical than the old ones) but who are often very rich, too. It is an extremely risky combination when such creatures become both powerful and rich.
Needless to say, the CO2 emissions aren’t the same thing as “evil”, the reduction of the CO2 emissions is in no way the same thing as “well-being”. Instead, if you are at least a little bit rational, you know damn too well that the CO2 emissions are totally obviously positively correlated with the well-being. The more CO2, the better. CO2 is the gas we call life. Its increase by 50% since 1750 AD has allowed the plants to have fewer pores (through which they suck CO2 from the air) which is why they are losing less water and they are better at water management (and at withstanding possible drought). Just the higher CO2 has increased the agricultural yields per squared kilometer by some 20% (greater increases were added by genetic engineering, fight against pests etc.). And the man-made CO2 has freed us from back-breaking labor etc.
The obsession to minimize the CO2 emissions is completely irrational and insane, more insane than the maximization of steel and coal has ever been – but its advocates are more fanatical than the steel and coal comrades used to be. On top of that, most of the projects proposed to lower the CO2 emissions don’t even achieve that because there are always some neglected sources or sinks of CO2 (and lots of cheating everywhere, contrived public “causes” are the ideal environment for corruption, too). Also, the price of one ton of CO2 emissions is as volatile as the Bitcoin and depends on the caps that may be basically arbitrarily chosen by the rogue politicians.
Tons of CO2 are a different quantity to be extremized than tons of coal or steel. But the obsession to “mindlessly minimize or maximize these quantites” is exactly the same and builds on the leftists’ infinite hatred (often just pretended hatred, however) to money as an invention. The hatred towards money is equivalent to the hatred towards the “subjective conversion of costs and benefits to the same unit”. Leftists hate the subjective considerations like that (which are equivalent to counting the costs and benefits in the Czech crowns) because they hate the “subjective thinking” in general. Well, they hate it because the subjective thinking is the thinking of the free people – i.e. people who aren’t politically obedient in general. They prefer “objective thinking”, i.e. an imbecile or a clique of imbeciles who are in charge, have the total power over everybody, and tell everybody “what they should want and do”! When whole nations behave as herds of obedient sheep or other useless animals, the leftists are happy.
Such a general scheme is bound to lead to a decline of the society,
regardless of the detailed choice of the quantity that is worshiped
as the “objective measure of the human well-being”.
In 2020, the epoch of Covidism, if I use the term of the Czech ex-president Václav Klaus, began. The most characteristic yet crazy quantity that the new leftist masters want to minimize (in this case, like the CO2 emissions, it “should be” minimized) are the “cases” of Covid-19, i.e. the number of positive PCR tests (or sometimes all tests, including Ag tests). From the beginning, it’s been insane because most people who are PCR tested positive for Covid-19 aren’t seriously sick. A fraction is completely asymptomatic, a great majority suffers through a very mild disease. On top of that, the number of positive tests depends on the number of people who are tested (because most positive people are unavoidably overlooked unless everyone is tested at least once a week); on the number of “magnifying” cycles in the PCR process; on the strategy to pick the candidates for testing, and lots of other things.
These are the reasons why it has been insane to be focused on the number of “cases” from 2020. But when the methodology to pick the people is constant, when the percentage of the positive tests is roughly kept constant, and when the virus doesn’t change, it becomes fair to use the number of “cases” as a measure of the total proliferation of the disease, Covid-19, in a nation or a population. However, there’s an even deeper problem, one that is related to the main topic of this essay:
Even when the testing frequency and techniques (including the selection) are constant, the number of cases may in no way be considered a measure of the well-being.
The reason is that “being PCR positive” is just a condition that increases the probability that one becomes sick; or one dies. And the number of deaths from Covid-19 is clearly a more important measure of the Covid-related losses than the number of cases – the filthy Coronazis love to obscure even elementary statements such as this one, however. The conversion factor e.g. from the “cases” to “deaths” is the case fatality rate (CFR) and that is not a universal constant. This is particularly important in the case of the Indian “delta” variant of the virus because it also belongs among the common cold viruses. It is a coronaviruses that causes a runny nose. This makes the disease much more contagious, like any common cold, and (in a totally non-immune, normally behaving urban, population). On the other hand, the nose cleans the breathing organs rather efficiently and the disease is unlikely to seriously invade the lungs where it really hurts. In fact, the runny nose indicates that this variant of the virus “likes” to play with the cosmetic problems such as the runny nose, it is not even attracted to the lungs. The same comments apply to any of the hundreds of rhinoviruses, coronaviruses… that cause common cold!
You may check the U.K. Covid graphs to see that despite the growing number of “cases” in recent weeks, the deaths are still near zero. The ratio of the two has decreased by more than one order of magnitude. A factor of 5 or so may be explained by the higher vaccination of the risk groups (older people); the remaining factor is due to the intrinsic lower case fatality rate of the delta variant. It is simply much lower than 0.1%, as every common cold virus is. That is much smaller than some 0.4% which is the expected fraction of the people in a civilized nation that die of Covid-19 (to make these estimates, I mainly use the Czech data which seem clean and I understand them extremely well: some 80% of Czechs have gone through Covid-19 and 0.3% of the population has died, so the case fatality rate must be around 0.4%).
So the conversion factor from a “case” to a “death” may have dropped by a factor of 30 or more in the U.K., relatively to the peak of the disease (the more classical variants of Covid-19). So it is just plain insane to pretend that “one case” is the same problem or “reduction of well-being” as “one case” half a year ago. The disease has turned into a common cold which is nearly harmless. But the society has been totally hijacked by the moronic, self-serving, brutally evil leftists who have simply become powerful assuming that they socially preserve the (totally false) idea that “the number of cases is an important quantity that must be minimized for the society’s well-being”. It is not important at all. The number of cases means absolutely nothing today because almost all the U.K. cases are just examples of a common cold that just happens to pass as a “Covid” through a test because this is how the test was idiotically designed. Everyone who tries to minimize the number of cases as we know them today is a dangerous deluded psychopath and must be treated on par with the war criminals, otherwise whole nations will be greatly damaged. The damage has already been grave but we face the risk of many years (like 40 years of the Czechoslovak communism) when a similar totally destructive way of thinking preserves itself by illegitimate tools that totally contradict even the most elementary Western values.
“Cases” mean nothing, especially when the character of the disease that is detected by the tests becomes vastly less serious. They mean even less than the “CO2 emissions” and even that favorite quantity of the moronic fanatical leftists hasn’t ever been a good measure of anything we should care about. Stop this insanity and treat the people “fighting to lower the cases” as war criminals right now. Thank you very much.
This article brings to mind a famous speech by Nikita Khrushchev, who was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964. The Soviet centrally planned economy created many absurdities and one of them was that productive success in fulfilling the five-year plans was measured in either the number of units of an article produced, or by their weight – but not by their monetary value – just as this article describes was the case during the Czechs forty year nightmare of Communist rule.
I recall that during the early 1960s, Khrushchev gave a speech in which he complained about the economic inefficiencies that were endemic to the Soviet system, and he used as his example the production of chandeliers. Now that fact alone – that a supposedly egalitarian socialist country was producing something as upmarket as chandeliers – might strike a modern-day person as a little strange, however the Russians of that era didn’t think so. Chandeliers were apparently used extensively in grandiose public buildings in the Soviet Union, and even in the subways of the Moscow Metro – a curious fact that was remarked upon in the West as a result of publicity photographs taken during a well-publicised goodwill visit to the USSR in 1959 by Vice-President Richard Nixon.
In his ‘chandelier speech’, Khrushchev’s famous complaint was that because factory managers and workers at the chandelier factory were rewarded for maximising their gross physical output – measured in tons – the chandeliers they produced to meet their targets grew ever-heavier with each successive five-year plan, leading to a situation where their excessive weight ended up tearing them from the ceilings after installation. The result – much broken glass!
As this ‘Science Matters’ article so astutely infers, we can expect that as more and more economic ‘solutions’ are implemented by the climate alarmist fantasists and their boondoggle-scammer partners, their preposterous attempt to control the Earth’s temperature will result in many situations where their metaphorical chandeliers will tear loose from their economic moorings and result in wanton economic destruction, and with it, widespread human distress. This is the topic that Alex Epstein passionately addressed in his recent explanation to a Congressional committee (available on YouTube), with regard to the further impoverishment of the people of Puerto Rico – as proposed by the scientifically-illiterate, moronic, climate fantasists and their political handmaidens.
Thanks Paul for that history. I was aware of stories of consternation in the Soviet economic system that some assembly plants were shut down for lack of screws. It seemed that the screw factory was behind in their tonnage quota, and so were only making heavy duty bolts until they caught up.