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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Foster: An arm and a leg

Peter Foster, Financial Post Published: Friday, June 06, 2008

Let's say that a bunch of tribal chiefs, having realized that they are in danger of being exposed as useless parasites, consult with their witch doctors and announce that the Gods are angry. These vengeful Gods are demanding that every tribesman (except chiefs and witch doctors)must have either an arm or a leg amputated.

Being eager to be seen as good chiefs, they agree to consult with the tribesmen. Not about the anger of the Gods, of course. That's settled. Instead, debate is to be allowed on the relative merits and defects of being one-armed vs. one-legged. Should individuals be allowed to choose which limb to lose? How much of a limb should be sufficient for divine appeasement? Below the knee? Above the elbow? Some bright spin/witch doctor might even suggest that this mass amputation would represent a marvellous opportunity to stimulate economic growth via the development of a prosthetic limb industry. Once the benefits of this new industry were taken into account, the Gods' anger might prove a net benefit, a golden opportunity.

But then suppose some emperor's-new-clothes kind of individual comes along and says, "Hang on, what proof do we have the Gods are angry? And where are these Gods anyway?" You might be sure that if they couldn't rip his heart out straight away, the powers that be would engage in much agitated jumping and hooting. "Infidel," they would scream. There would be dark whispers that this person must be in league with, or in the pay of, the Devil, X'on. How dare he doubt the shamans, among whom there is consensus.

Just substitute "catastrophic climate change" for "angry gods," carbon taxes vs. cap-and-trade for amputating arms vs. amputating legs, and "Denier" for "Infidel," and you pretty much have the substance of the present climate change policy debate.
Be sure to read the whole thing.

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