Monday, September 4, 2017

If everyone thought the way Rud Istvan thinks, civilisation would soon crumble

Sou | 3:31 PM Go to the first of 24 comments. Add a comment
There's an article at WUWT that gives some insight into the minds of the ideologically-constrained at WUWT. Rud Istvan wrote why he doesn't want his tax going to assist in recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana (archived here). It boils down to him being able to afford to live in a fancy apartment that was designed to withstand Cat 5 storms. Those who can't afford that should suffer the consequences, according to Rud.

This is symptomatic of all that is wrong in the deniosphere and some "free market" survival of the fittest thinkers. It's ideologically opposed to the fundamentals of most of the world's religions, and society as a whole. Society functions best when we look out for each other, not when we worship money, greed and selfishness.

Rud wrote about three levels of support for communities that suffer weather disasters.
  1. He talks about the USA being "committed to constitutionally providing a united minimum response" but in his eyes this is conditional. He wrote: "We will help you if you help us."
  2. He then says some action is purely a local responsibility and questions why he should have to pay when local authorities allowed dwellings on flood plains. (It's all about risk. A blanket ban on floodplains would mean that most countries would have nowhere for people to live or farm.)
  3. His third point was that people who didn't take out flood insurance shouldn't get any help at all, after their homes and businesses have been destroyed.
I expect there are a few people who think this way, even if just for a few seconds. People who've paid extra for flood or fire insurance might be resentful that people who didn't or couldn't access it get help when disaster strikes. Yet if communities are not rebuilt, then the whole of society suffers. It doesn't make sense to not get people, families, schools, hospitals, workers, transport and businesses back on their feet and functioning again as quickly as possible.

What struck me about the article though were two things:
  • Firstly, the selfishness of a wealthy person who doesn't believe in sharing his good fortune with those whose lives have been turned upside down by disaster. The notion that only those who can afford it are entitled to survive disasters.
  • Secondly, the implications for science deniers who not only don't want to mitigate weather disasters, they want to exacerbate them.
The second point is worth thinking about. Given that all weather is different now because of global warming, should deniers who suffer in weather catastrophes only be assisted (if at all) by an amount proportional to the extent of the disaster if it hadn't been exacerbated by global warming? Should the assistance provided to Fort Lauderdale (where Rud says he lives) after Wilma have been reduced proportional to the deniers who live in Fort Lauderdale? Should the streets where those without flood insurance live not be repaired?

What about the people in Sierra Leone, whose homes were buried in mud? Or the people in much of Asia whose communities were ravaged by excessive monsoon rains?

By the way, my answer to the above questions is a categorical NO. Of course no individual should be deprived of support or assistance in a disaster because of their ideology, their race, their sex, their religion or their age.

All I can say is, if everyone acted as Rud Istvan thinks, then the USA might not survive the next few decades.


  1. It is the politics of envy.
    For some reason in the US the rich are jealous of any benefit to the poor.

    I am not sure if it is the dogam of 'rugged individualism', the belief that social economics is a zero-sum game or aquisitive resentment at the fee for joining the club of civilisation.

    There is even resistance to subsidizing the provision of vaccination. Because of the principle that nobody should receive an unearned benefit over-rides herd immunity.
    Unless the unearned benefit is from stock and shares.

    1. How far does it extend, I wonder. I appreciate that people who suffer health problems shouldn't have access to medical care once they've spent all their savings on it. Does it also mean that people below a certain income threshold should not be allowed to use roads, public schools, or sidewalks?

      (I know not all wealthy people hold these views. Probably not the majority either.)

  2. The problem is the there is no "right" answer, it's a question of judgement and personal preferences. We could talk about it until the cows come home.

    I don't want to live in a jungle on the other hand I don't want to live in a zoo.

    Ideally, each would contribute to society to the best of his ability and society would be just and generous to everyone.

    For example. It's not fair some people fritter away money instead of buying insurance, so is one answer compulsion?

    What I will say is, these wealthy individuals who are mean-spirited would not be wealthy in a jungle. They might well be dead.

    Is this the "ristvan" who "knows" more science than the global community of scientists? Or am I confusing him with wristman? (Apparently I was banned from WotsUpWatts ages ago, or at least my comments stopped appearing...)

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  5. Florida brought in enhanced building regulations after Hurricane Andrew. WUWT seems to have forgotten it affects to despise such nanny state measures.

  6. The weasel too said last week that those who didn't take out insurance shouldn't be bailed out by the public dime, and I have a little bit of sympathy for this line of thought...

    ...until one accounts for the fact that many of those who didn't have insurance, didn't have it because they couldn't afford it for reasons beyond their own control. These reasons are often the direct sequelæ of government policy that favours the well-off over the not-well-off, and therefore there emerges a case for helping out those affected by events such as Harvey.

    Of course this then begs the question of whether societies can afford the future bills that result from the ever-increasing costs of extreme events. It's a bit of a moot point, because if societies try to shift the cost to individuals on the basis of 'responsibility', the collective inability to afford the expense of repairing still remains. Indeed, the whole philosophy of insurance is one that implies that maximum benefit accrues by spreading cost... in other words, socialising the cost. If a society is constructed so that the poorer members can't afford to partake in socialising costs, the fault isn't the poor people's, it's the society's managers who facilitate wealth disparity to the point that socialised cost penalises the poor.

    And it's also the policy makers' fault that they instigate and/or maintain policies that maximise the environmental damage that costs so much. Whilst they might be happy to rely on a system that funnels tax-payers' money to patch up this damage, the fact is that at some point the cost will break even this system and they'll still have to face the fact of being unable to afford to repair the damage.

  7. I can't help wondering what people like Rudd think about having their tax dollars used (if they pay any tax) to build a wall around the USA, and not for the purpose of keeping out rising seas.

    (It's okay for Trump because evidence suggests he doesn't pay income tax.)

    1. The thing about Trump's wall is that it would be just as good at keeping people in as out...

      If the border between Canada and Americanastan starts to harden, the good citizens of the US should perhaps pay a little more attention to their government... ;-)

  8. America can be a weird place, where Social Darwinists team up with creationists who reject the teachings of Jesus.

  9. And yet, without skipping a heartbeat, the Trumpian libertarians and free-marketeers are going to rebuild Houston brick for brick, all nice and ready to flood again within the decade. Even Ted Cruz is on board. Apparently, to try to suggest that people be encouraged to move from floodplains requires some urban planning, and that is SOCIALISM.

    1. Two east coast cities, two very different responses to rising sea levels.


  10. If Istvan's fancy high-rise takes a direct cat-5 hit (and that's starting to look like a possibility), his apartment building will remain standing, but all the apartments will be completely gutted.

    In a hurricane, winds aloft (as in 12 stories up) are considerably stronger than winds at ground-level.

    Mr Istvan's apartment will remain after the cat-5 hit, but all of its interior fancy bits (drapes, carpeting, furniture, appliances, etc.) could end up being blown all the way to Georgia.

    In addition, there will be so much catastrophic damage to the urban infrastructure that supports Istvan's fancy Florida high-rise lifestyle that he may not be able to return for months.

    Should that happen, look for Istvan to try to muscle himself to the front of the line for Gummint aid.

    1. And if Istvan demands special treatment from the Gummint (as many selfish wealthy folks are inclined to do), the only appropriate response would be, "Go park your butt on a Red-Cross cot along with everyone else!"

  11. Long ago I noticed that libertarians, almost to a man (and they are almost always men) wrapped up a toxic mixture of selfishness, greed, moral blindness and naivité into their simplistic ideology and obsession with taxation and fantasies of rugged individualism (which never existed even for hunter-gathers or nomads).

    Just another weird thing about climate change deniers.

  12. The issue of what Reaganomics and the neo-liberal right wing has wrought is summed up in the fictional phrase uttered by "Gordon Gekko" - specifically "Greed is good", and its contradiction of the teachings of not just the Catholic Church (Greed is one of the seven deadly sins) but of EVERY major religion on the planet. They don't agree on much but they agree on that.

    So what does that mean? That means that the major religions, which are the religions that have survived and thrived because the societies that they support survived and thrived, all have a trait in common. Self-interest comes after the well-being of the society, not ahead of it.

    The fact tells us that this is probably one of the seriously real survival traits that affect the survival of both societies and their related religions.

    OK... is there any logical reason to say this besides religion? Sure.

    If you consider the nature of humans and their own evolution you note that even as apes we are social animals and survive by acting in social cooperation rather than as solitary hunter-gatherers or solitary farmers. We have a lot of tools evolved to help us relate to other members of our society and we have instinctive responses that make the tribe stronger... as well as a heck of a lot of instinctive problems that make it difficult to grow past "Dunbar's Number". We are stronger working together than working as individuals. The group is always more powerful than the individual.

    The real failure of Libertarianism however, is that it requires idealized and well-informed humans for it to actually work. This is a failure not dissimilar to pure Communism. The ability to self-govern and have a stable and fair society based on imperfect humans requires a bit of both and is still fraught with difficulty.

    Personally I look forward to the development of an advanced AI that can take over our government. We just aren't doing a real good job of it :-)

    1. (Greed is one of the seven deadly sins)

      Not any more. The new US perversion of Christianity is the "Prosperity Gospel" that says "God wants you to be rich" so all those poor people obviously most be evil and undeserving.

      Strangely enough, that preacher who had be shamed into opening his mega-church to hurricane refugees preaches this dreck.

    2. This gives an idea how the Christian Ideal has been perverted.

      Supply Side Jesus.



  13. I read recently that hookworm, yes hookworm FFS, is thriving among poor, predominantly black communities in Alabama (source).

    Here's how the richest nation in the world deals with people too poor to afford to avoid paddling around in raw sewage:

    He added that people were afraid to report the problems, given the spate of criminal prosecutions that were launched by Alabama state between 2002 and 2008 against residents who were open-piping sewage from their homes, unable to afford proper treatment systems. One grandmother was jailed over a weekend for failing to buy a septic tank that cost more than her entire annual income.

    “People are scared. They don’t like to speak out as they’re worried the health department will come round and cause trouble,” Thigpen said.

    The challenge to places like Lowndes County is not to restore existing public infrastructure, as Trump has promised, because there is no public infrastructure here to begin with. Flowers estimates that 80% of the county is uncovered by any municipal sewerage system, and in its absence people are expected – and in some cases legally forced – to provide their own.

  14. Hmm, it looks like Kerry Emanuel thinks the way Rudd Istvan thinks:

    Why it’s time to stop calling these hurricane disasters ‘natural’
    By Kerry Emanuel
    September 19 at 10:22 AM


    1. Dave I suggest you read what Rud wrote and then read what Dr Emanuel wrote. They are not the same thing. Their viewpoints are almost complete opposites in most respects.

      Rud thinks climate science is a hoax and human activity isn't causing climate change (or not most of it). Kerry Emanuel is saying the opposite. Weather disasters and particularly the recent spate of hurricanes have been exacerbated by climate change, caused by human activity.

      Rud's article is all about how he doesn't want any government assistance given to people who suffer loss after hurricanes because it's their fault for being in the path of the disaster.

      Dr Emanuel doesn't make that argument (though I can sort of understand why you were confused). His article is about how politics have been "hijacked" by special interests, with the result that planning and other policies work against adapting to climate change, and make the cost and loss from disasters much worse. Development is being encouraged where the outcomes are proving disastrous, because of anthropogenic climate change. There's a flow-on effect right through to disaster relief, which sends the wrong risk/pricing signals. That is not the same selfish message that Rud was pushing.

      As a test, ask Rud if he thinks he planning restrictions should be imposed such that development along the Florida coast is no longer permitted and people are forced to move further inland (departing places like Fort Lauderdale). Or whether he would support a fifty-fold increase in his property insurance. Or if he agrees with Dr Emanuel's statement that:

      In the United States, we have in place a range of policies that all but guarantees a worsening string of Katrinas, Sandys, Harveys and Irmas as far as we can see into the future. Climate change acts as a threat-multiplier to these policy-generated disasters, making them progressively worse than they would have been in a stable climate.

    2. Summary of Rud (from post above):

      "1. He talks about the USA being 'committed to constitutionally providing a united minimum response' but in his eyes this is conditional. He wrote: 'We will help you if you help us.'

      2. He then says some action is purely a local responsibility and questions why he should have to pay when local authorities allowed dwellings on flood plains.

      3. His third point was that people who didn't take out flood insurance shouldn't get any help at all, after their homes and businesses have been destroyed."

      #1 is not clear, but Emanuel clearly would agree with #2 and #3. Perhaps the above summary of Rud's points is inaccurate?

    3. As I intimated in the article up top, I don't espouse Rud's "survival of the richest" ideology. I also find it curious that he and many of your fellow WUWTers are happy to ruin the workers in Houston who lost some things or everything in the recent floods.

      The willingness to sacrifice the oil and gas capital of the USA was most perplexing, given the usual slant from WUWT that fossil fuel can't be permitted to be fossilised. (Modernisation is the devil's work.)

      I also found it a bit odd that many, like Rud, don't want anyone except maybe the hippies who live on mountain tops and hillsides, to recover from storm surges and flooding. Moving everyone off flood plains would mean most cities would disappear, and most food would have to come from either the sea or hillside hydroponics, which would be a tad limiting.

    4. PS You are misrepresenting what Kerry Emanuel wrote, DaveW. Perhaps subtle (and not so subtle) differences aren't your thing.


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