Is Coal Killing People?

Extending on JoeL‘s response to Smokingscot’s link:

Michael Bloomberg: “Some people say, well, taxes are regressive. But in this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money. And so, higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves. So, I listen to people saying ‘oh we don’t want to tax the poor.’ Well, we want the poor to live longer so that they can get an education and enjoy life. And that’s why you do want to do exactly what a lot of people say you don’t want to do. The question is: do you want to pander to those people, or do you want to get them to live longer? And there’s just no question: if you raise taxes on full sugary drinks for example, they will drink less, and there’s just no question that full sugar drinks are one of the major contributors to obesity, and obesity is one of the major contributors to heart disease, and cancer, and a variety of other things. So it’s like saying I don’t want to stop using coal because coal miners will go out of work, will lose their jobs. We have a lot of soldiers in the United States in the US army, but we don’t want to go start a war just to give them something to do. And that’s exactly what you’re saying when you say well let’s keep coal killing people because we don’t want coal miners to lose their jobs. The truth of the matter is there are many coal miners left anyways, and we can find other things for them to do.But the comparison is: a life, or a job. Or taxes, or life.  Which do you want to do? Take your poison.”

Christine Lagarde: “So it’s regressive: it is good. There are lots of tax experts in the room, and fiscal experts, and I’m very pleased that they hear you say that. And they all say there are two things in life which are absolutely certain. One is death, the other one is tax. So you use one to defer the other one.”

Michael Bloomberg: “That’s correct. That is exactly right. Well said.”

Christine Lagarde: “Yes.

Michael Bloomberg: “You said it.”

Michael Bloomberg: “No, you said it.”

It’s all totally screwy. Bloomberg says “we want the poor to live longer.” Why? “So that they can get an education and enjoy life. ” Is getting an education a necessary prerequisite for enjoying life? I don’t think so. I think uneducated people can enjoy life just as much as educated people. In fact, maybe they can enjoy it more. So what’s education got to do with it?

Anyway, Bloomberg then says that if you raise taxes on full sugary drinks, poor people will drink less, and live longer, because full sugary drinks are contributors to cancer and heart disease. Are full sugary drinks really contributors to cancer and heart disease? How the hell do they know? Why should we believe the people that tell us this?

But that aside, and if reducing consumption of full sugary drinks actually does make people live longer, then if drinking full sugary drinks is one of the ways by which people enjoy life, then you have increased longevity of life at the price of enjoyment of life. Live longer, and have less fun. And once you’ve taken away all the other things that people enjoy doing, then maybe you’ll end up with people who will live a very long time, and take no enjoyment whatsoever from doing so.

And then Bloomberg switches over to talking about coal miners, saying that letting them keep their jobs will “keep coal killing people.” But is coal killing people? How is it killing people? I thought that coal was what got the industrial revolution going, and brought us the high living standards we enjoy today. In fact, what Bloomberg probably means is that burning coal produces carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide is warming the planet, and this warming is going to end up killing a lot of people. But is carbon dioxide causing global warming? A lot of people don’t believe that it is. Or they believe that it’s nothing that anyone need worry about. (And I now think that global warming is a Good Thing, if it can help defer the next ice age.)

And Christine Lagarde clearly believes that coal and carbon dioxide is killing people as well. And she adds her own spin. She says that there are only two things in life that are absolutely certain: death and taxes. And you can defer death by increasing taxes. But are death and taxes the only two certainties in life? I thought the saying was just a wry joke. Lagarde has given it the status of a profound truth. But it is not. There are undoubtedly many people throughout history who never paid any taxes at all, because they were hermits living in remote places, or fur trappers in Alaska, where there were no tax collectors, and so no taxes. And I doubt that any of the people who ever paid taxes to tax collectors saw them as helping them live longer. Quite the opposite.

More or less everything that was said here was open to question. Or it raised more questions. Like for example: Is a long life necessarily a good life or an enjoyable life? Is there something about long life that is good in itself, regardless of what is done with it? If prisoners in maximum security prisons live longer than people in the dangerous world outside prison, would this be a good reason to put people in prison?

Anyway, I find it very disturbing that we’ve got people like Christine Lagarde and Michael Bloomberg trying to run the world, because I think they’re both dangerous crazy people, with an inverted understanding of the world.

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And Now the Storm-Blast Came

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

And now the STORM-BLAST came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong:
He struck with his o’ertaking wings,
And chased us south along.

In this verse the storm is a tyrannical winged man. He might just as easily have been a whirling dervish or a dancer or a singer. They all chase us south along.

Are the ideas that capture people’s imaginations much different from storms? They come spinning up out of nowhere, and vanish back into nowhere, again and again and again. For a while they take a grip on people, and suck in millions, and then relax their hold.

A pop star who sings a catchy tune, which becomes a big hit, is someone who manages to catch people’s imaginations with a bit of music. For a while he’ll become a sought-after  somebody. But a few months later, when people have grown bored of it, he’ll be forgotten, and go back to being a nobody.

It’s the same with ideas. They also can grip people’s imaginations. And people can become as possessed by them as by a catchy tune. Becoming a Nazi, or a Communist, or a Muslim jihadi entails being caught up in an idea-storm of some sort. So was becoming a hippie or a Bob Dylan fan. You got picked up and tossed around, like leaves on the wind. But after a while the storm blows over.

Tobacco Control is yet another idea- or belief-system that has been sweeping the world. It’s an idea-hurricane that seems to have been born in California (like many other ideas) and been tracking slowly across the world ever since. The adherents that are caught up in this belief system ascribe all disease to tobacco, and to nothing else. It’s a very simple belief system, and it’s probably from out of this simplicity that its power grows, just like the hook of a simple tune.

A more recent storm system of ideas is that of Climate Alarmism. This also is very simple. The adherents of this one believe that the climate is controlled by carbon dioxide, and by nothing else. And now there are millions of people now living in terror of a trace gas in the atmosphere (like poor little Greta Thunberg).

One might think of the First World War as a superstorm, or mega-hurricane. What else is happening when millions of men blaze away at each other for years with rifles and machine-guns and howitzers, demolishing entire cities, devastating great swaths of land. By what kind of madness were they all gripped? They were caught up in a great storm. And nobody really knows where the storm came from, or why it became so ferocious, and why it eventually blew itself out.

If you’re caught in one of these storms, all you can do is sit tight, hang on to the furniture, and hope that you don’t get blown away or shredded to pieces or drowned. You really just have to endure it. For after a while the storm will lose strength, and the wind will drop.

Hurricanes and typhoons are simply large masses of warm, humid air that press upon each other, and become entrained in whirling motion together. We’re always being subjected to these swirling air masses, but more usually as light breezes or gentle zephyrs. And it’s the same with ideas. We’re always hearing spoken words (which are also formed in warm, humid air), and usually they’re quiet conversations. But sometimes the voices get raised, and everyone starts shouting, and a new storm breaks over us all.

I think people are now about as tired of Tobacco Control as they’ve got tired of storms or hurricanes or simple tunes. After a while these things become oppressive. It’s got boring. You can see the straws in the wind:

‘If they don’t like it, stuff ’em’: Farmer gives a hilarious response as he refuses to put out his cigarette after journalist asks him to extinguish it.

Better still when the zealots like Stanton Glantz start contradicting themselves:

Using e-cigs increases exposure to toxic chemicals for most users; they would be better off just smoking.

One day soon, Tobacco Control will cease to exist. And people will wonder what all the fuss was about. They’ll ask: Did they all go mad? It’ll be the same with climate alarmism too. And everything else as well.

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Isla dos Amores

In a time when we’re all supposed to be worried about global warming, and in particular about sea level rise caused by melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, I found myself wishing if I could remember where the sea level was in the various places around the world where I once lived. But it wasn’t something to which I ever paid any attention. So I have no recollection of where the sea level used to be, 50 or 60 years ago, and so can’t say whether it’s been rising as predicted.

But last night I remembered a little island in Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara bay. Back in about 1958, my father worked in Rio de Janeiro, and we lived in Niteroi, across the bay from Rio. And he also owned a little clinker-built sailing boat which he kept at the yacht club on the north shore of the Saco de São Francisco. And so one day, while sailing in the Saco, we stopped off at the little Ilha dos Amores not far from the south shore.

I have a peculiarly vivid recollection of this event, perhaps because the Ilha was the smallest island I had ever set foot on. My recollection of it was that it was a small granite outcrop, barely ten yards across, and two three feet above the water, with a few small, scrubby plants growing on it, and yet equipped with its own tiny beach. We got out of the boat, and wandered about on it briefly. But there was nothing to see, and so after a few minutes we set off again, never to return.

But here was, at last, a distinct and clear memory of the sea level on one day at one single place in the world. And today I used Google Maps to search for the islet again. Perhaps it had been swallowed up by the rising seas?

But it was still there (right). And rather than having grown smaller, it seemed to have grown bigger. Instead of being 10 yards across, it was about 40 metres – 4 times bigger than I remember it.

There’s a simple explanation for the discrepancy. Back in 1958, we must have visited it at high tide. For Guanabara Bay is a tidal basin, and the waters in it are always rising and falling by 5 or 6 feet (2 metres). Almost certainly my father only took his yacht out when the tide was high. The photo above must have been snapped at low tide.

I found this morning another view of the island, by Diego Baravelli, possibly from 2017, which gives a better idea of its contours:

And what this little island tells me is that sea levels haven’t risen appreciably in Guanabara Bay over the 60 years since I last set foot upon it. In fact, if anything, it looks to me like sea levels may even have been falling. So what’s there to worry about? I’d have felt differently if the islet had vanished beneath the waves.

I also wondered why it was called the Isle of the Lovers. And I suspect that’s because it’s exactly what it was. It’s about 200 metres from the nearest beach, and would have been easy to row or even swim to. So probably dozens of Rositas and Ronaldos would have done exactly that, far from any prying, censorious eyes. And perhaps they’d even have brought with them a few cans of beer, and a barbecue on which to grill a kebab, and of course lots of cigarettes.

The Saco de São Francisco, if not the Isla dos Amores, is visible in the panoramic view below. In the foreground is the district of Botafogo, where my mother taught at the British School.

And it’s just possible, maybe, that the Rositas and Ronaldos on the Ilha dos Amores could have just been able to see the floodlit Christo eleven kilometres away, facing directly towards them.

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Smoking Booths Designed By Sadists

Chris Snowdon has a handy guide for who not to vote for in our upcoming General Election. It includes Personal Liberty Rankings for each party. Conservatives come top with three stars, Plaid Cymru bottom with one star, all the rest two stars (Brexit party not reviewed).

Or at least I suppose three stars is better than one star. Maybe the Conservatives came third, and Plaid Cymru first?

I didn’t know that the Greens want to

Support the transition to plant-based diets by phasing in a tax on meat and dairy products over the next ten years, to reduce the 5% of the UK’s carbon emissions that come from the methane produced by livestock.

But it seems like a good reason not to vote for them.

All votes that I cast these days are negative votes. The party that gets the cross put next to it is never the party I want to see in office, but the party that I least don’t want to see in office.

I’ll never vote Labour or Lib Dem: those bastards voted for the 2007 UK smoking ban, and I’ll never forgive them for it.

Simon Clark has been strolling round the European Parliament, and writes:

Elsewhere there were small smoking booths, like the one below. Whatever your view of smoking, I really don’t see how anyone could object to having similar booths in enclosed public places in the UK, which raises an important point.

There is a lot wrong with the European Parliament, and I shall be gutted if the UK is still in the EU the next time I visit Brussels, but the accommodation of smokers within the main Parliament building should be applauded.

Really? What’s there to applaud about that? It looks to me like a public urinal. And a glass public urinal in which people can be watched while they’re urinating.

This is a room that has been designed to humiliate the people inside it. It’s grey and unwelcoming. There are no stools or seats for anyone to sit on. Occupants must stand facing the wall, once they’ve managed to squeeze their way in.

So, yes, I thoroughly object to this. What they should have instead is a place about ten times bigger, with tables and chairs, and posters on the walls,  and curtains in the windows, and a bar at one end with a welcoming bartender and lots of bottles behind him. A bit like this:

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The Continued Expulsion

I thought I’d continue today along yesterday’s thread, exploring the expulsion of smokers from society, and some of the consequences that seem to have naturally flowed from this.

I still vividly remember the day – 1 July 2007 – when we smokers were expelled from all the pubs and cafes and clubs in Britain, and exiled to the outdoors. It might have seemed at the time like a singular, one-off event, but it was actually the beginning of a process of expulsion, not just from pubs and cafes, but from the whole of society.

On that first day, the pubs in Devon (where I was living at the time) were quite crowded. I suppose everyone wanted to see what would happen. But after that day, they emptied. I used to have a number of acquaintances with whom I swapped conversation and drinks, or with whom I played pool. And they all vanished, and I never saw them again. An entire circle of acquaintances dissolved away in the space of two or three weeks.

It took a lot longer to lose the wide circle of friends in Britain that I’d known before the ban. But as one by one they started banning smoking in their own homes, and I became as unwelcome there as I was in pubs and cafes, I grew steadily more distant from them. And furthermore, ours had ceased to be a shared experience of life: I was one of the excluded, and they were not. Which is not much different from me being black, and they being white.

But this was a process that took place over time. It didn’t happen suddenly. It took years.

But there were other gradual changes as well. Prior to the smoking ban, I voted Liberal Democrat, and I saw myself as liberal and democratic. And I tended to want everybody – blacks, gays, women, Muslims, etc. – to all be included. But once I myself had joined the ranks of the excluded, I ceased to feel quite the same about it. I began to resent the fact that these social groups were being included in society, while I was being excluded. Why should an excluded and reviled smoker like me be glad that a black/gay/handicapped/Muslim like you is being included? There is no reason at all why I should feel pleased.

And also I had a deep nostalgia for the way thing used to be, when smokers like me were welcome. I longed for the vanished, congenial, smoky pubs of yesteryear. And I longed for much else beside that had now been swept away.

In short I stopped being a progressive Liberal Democrat, and started being a conservative. From initially being a bit Left wing, I became steadily more Right wing. I found myself agreeing with Right wing people who I never used to agree with before. And very often I found them to not be Right Wing enough. It’s been said that “A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged,” and in my case this was exactly correct: we smokers had been mugged, and left bloodied and penniless on the street.

I think a shift in political orientation of this sort was actually something that was an inevitable consequence of the exclusion of smokers, and if the whole of Europe and America has been becoming steadily more conservative in recent years, it seems to me that all one need do is point to the many millions of excluded smokers in all these countries, and say: “Here are your new conservatives.” These aren’t people who had a sudden awakening one day: these are people who have just been enduring exclusion and demonisation in countless small ways for year after year after year, and getting more and more tired of it, and starting to vote for politicians like Nigel Farage, or Marine Le Pen, or Matteo Salvini, all of whom are smokers, and thus One Of Us.

I think that if we also seem to be in a permanent economic slump, with interest rates at rock bottom, it may well be for a very closely related reason: the excluded smokers have stopped spending. I was remarking yesterday that I never go anywhere any more, never catch any trains or buses or planes, never stay in any hotels, never visit any cinemas or art galleries or museums, because I am no longer welcome in any of these places. So why should I want to frequent them? It’s not just that smokers no longer spend freely on beer and cigarettes and food like they once used to, they don’t spend on anything else much either.

The oddest thing about all this is that: nobody can see what’s happening. This doesn’t just apply to the progressive Left: it applies equally to the conservative Right. All over the world, hundreds of millions of smokers are being expelled from society, and nobody notices it happening. There’s complete, dead silence. There’s not a peep about it on any radio or TV channel, nor any mention of it in newspapers, or in parliaments, or churches, or community associations. Can’t they see? Haven’t they got eyes in their heads?

One possible explanation for this is that smoking bans are not regarded as political measures, but as health measures. So if you mention smoking bans to anyone in any position of authority, they will immediately drop it into the medical in-tray. Whereas if you mention blacks or gays or women or muslims, they’ll drop that into the political in-tray. Smoking is not treated as a political matter at all, but as a medical matter, and in fact as a medical emergency, during which normal rules of care and consideration are suspended, and ambulances may drive through red lights and on the wrong side of the road. Once something has become an urgent matter of Saving Lives, it ceases to be an ordinary political matter up for discussion, and there can be no debate about it whatsoever.

And so there isn’t any debate.

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 I always thought that a picture from the ISIS survey illustrated well the impact of smoking bans.

They didn’t effect most people, because most people don’t smoke. And they didn’t effect a lot of smokers that much either, particularly those who entertained friends at home. For them it was an inconvenience.

But for people like me, who conducted the entirety of their social lives in pubs and cafes and restaurants, the smoking ban was not simply an exile to the outdoors, but was a complete expulsion from society. We may as well have been launched by rocket into space, and spent the rest of our lives in orbit around the Earth. Everything changed. And everything changed completely. The world was never the same after 1 July 2007 as it was before it.

Since that day I have been embarked on a journey that I didn’t want to make, watching the world change around me, and watching myself change with it.

One change in me was that I stopped watching TV or reading newspapers. For what I saw on TV was a world to which I no longer belonged, that I was no longer part of, that no longer spoke for me or for people like me. I may as well have been watching Spanish television rather than British television, and not understanding a single word of it.

And gradually I stopped going anywhere. Why should I want to go anywhere when I am not welcome anywhere? Smokers like me are not welcome in cinemas, not welcome in libraries, not welcome in art galleries, not welcome in museums, not welcome on trains or buses, not welcome in hotels, not welcome on planes. And yet once we were welcome in all of them.

The only places left are the gardens outside pubs in summer, where smokers still congregate. I can’t help but think that this was an unforeseen loophole in the law, and that one day smoking will also be banned in pub gardens as it is gradually being banned in other outdoor areas like parks and hospital grounds. And when that happens, my expulsion from society will be complete.

I very occasionally get invited to conferences, or to appear on TV or on radio, but I never go. Why should I want to be on TV? I’m not welcome there either. Nobody is allowed to smoke on TV, unless they’re in some sort of costume drama set in Victorian Britain. I once attended a UKIP conference (uninvited, and without being a member) and spent most of my time sat smoking outside. What’s the point of that?

These days, when I’m interested in global warming/climate change in a thoroughly sceptical way, and spend much of my time constructing computer simulation models of ice ages, I occasionally imagine that I might one day attend a climate conference. But that won’t happen either, because I’m no more welcome in climate conferences than I am in cinemas or pubs or restaurants. So I won’t be going.

I still vote, more or less as a matter of duty. But I’m beginning to wonder why. None of the political parties represents me. And none of them wants to represent me. None of them are proposing to relax smoking bans in any way.

I regard smoking bans as a form of socialism. Socialists want to change society, and change it in fundamental ways. And what was the UK smoking ban but a complete and fundamental change in British society? Usually socialists want to redistribute wealth, bring industries into public ownership, and so forth. But ultimately socialists are people who make plans for everyone, and want to bend everyone to their will. So why not start with smoking bans? They are just as controlling and intrusive as anything else. And they’re a lot cheaper.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who introduced the UK smoking bans, were both socialists. But the nominally-conservative David Cameron did not repeal them. And neither did Theresa May. So they were both just as much socialist as Blair or Brown (or Jeremy Corbyn). All our politicians are socialists. Some are simply more overt than others. And that includes Boris Johnson, because he’s not going to repeal the smoking ban either.

In fact, since Boris has fully adopted climate alarmism, he’s arguably become even more socialist than any of them. For what is global alarmism than an excuse for the complete and radical reconstruction of society in every imaginable way, according to a centrally-devised plan?

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Not Coming To Their Senses

Chris Snowdon asks:

Is the USA coming to its senses on e-cigarettes (and cigarettes)?

It seems that it’s Donald Trump who may have come to his senses.

President Donald Trump has reversed plans to ban flavoured e-cigarettes amid a national youth vaping crisis, US media report.

He announced plans for a ban in September, but reportedly decided not to enact it this month because of possible job losses and voter pushback.

It’s not just vaping. Cigarettes as well.

U.S. regulators are hitting the brakes on plans to force tobacco companies to drastically reduce addictive nicotine in cigarettes, retreating on an ambitious public-health initiative that comes amid increasing worry about nicotine use among young people.

The Department of Health and Human Services has dropped a proposal unveiled two years ago to cut the nicotine in cigarettes to nonaddictive levels, according to a regulatory document published Wednesday.

Going back to the first question: Is the USA coming to its senses on e-cigarettes (and cigarettes)?

Probably not. The levels of insanity reached in this matter aren’t going away any time soon. It’s probably simply that Trump has a much better idea how Americans think than the rest of the political establishment. I noticed that when talking to Fox and Friends a few days ago, asked about Bloomberg, he immediately pointed out Bloomberg’s lifestyle interventionism as a liability. Trump knows that people don’t want to be told how to live their lives. He knows that’s a vote loser. He may not smoke or drink himself, but he’s not a bullying Tobacco Controller like Bloomberg.

Chris Snowdon also pointed out:

Vapers have done a great job of getting on the street and letting Trump know that they will not be voting for anyone who takes away their e-cigarettes.

Why have vapers done a great job, but smokers haven’t? The explanation is probably simply that the war on smoking has been going on for 100 years, and the war on vaping has been going on for less than 10 years. Vaping is still something that’s very new, and vapers have been incensed at how rapidly the antismokers have rushed to condemn vaping as even worse than smoking. They can see the blatant lies that are being told. They can’t see that the same lies were told about smoking cigarettes, because those lies are part of the furniture: they’re well-established lies.

But that’s the modern environment. It’s one of outrageous lies being told about everything. If you want to get anything done, it seems the only way to do it is by telling monstrous lies.

Why are we in such a world of lies? My guess is that it’s something that started in WW1 and continued in WW2, and has continued ever since. In wartime, you have to tell lies all the time. You have to conceal your intentions. You have to deceive. And once people had started lying and deceiving and misleading during wartime, they just carried on doing it even when the war was over. And now they lie about everything, all the time. And they think nothing of telling the most outrageous lies. They think it’s normal standard practice.

But it’s not. And the consequence of telling lies all the time is that people stop believing. They stop believing everything they’re told. Confidence collapses. And that’s where we are right now.

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