Tim Harford's lukewarm review of William MacAskill's book.
If he is right, how could I justify giving £10 to a food bank today when I could set up a charitable trust, let the money accumulate centuries of compound interest before lavishing the proceeds on future generations? Are we morally obliged to live at subsistence levels to maximise the resources available for investment and research so our great-great-great-great-grandchildren will thrive? Such questions have been discussed and analysed at great depth in the literature on climate change. It is surprising to see them waved away with a few sentences here.
Is it that surprising, really?
“We must stop giving breadcrumbs and start building bakeries.”
Nice rhetoric. And then ...?
In the UK at the moment, the average household consumes 3,731 kWh of electricity in a year. That comes to 10.23 kWh per day. So wouldn’t it be smarter — and fairer — to subsidise consumption up to that level, and let households which consume more face the market rate? And pay for the subsidy by a windfall tax on energy companies.
It won’t happen, of course, for the simple reason that it’s ‘unthinkable’.
I wish I understood more deeply, but the more I read about Henry George and Georgism, the more inclined I am to believe it to be correct.
Our modern culture is good at heroic, high-tech mitigation of specific and immediate acute problems. It’s not very good at long-term, low-tech cultural adaptation that mitigates against these specific and immediate acute problems from arising.
Is there time? Best to assume that there is, and start the transition now.
“... (a symptom of the malaise: the spellchecker on my computer is happy with the word ‘urbanization’ but not ‘ruralization’).”
When, I wonder, are we going to get to the art/culture arguments in favour of cities. Those are what have kept me urbanised for the past many years. Irrationally, perhaps, but the result is the same.
George Monbiot illuminates and infuriates in equal measure, although I suspect, after reading Chris Smaje’s review, that I will not be paying much attention in future. I have not read Regenesis, so will say nothing about it myself. Two quotes from Chris (of many others I could have chosen):
“[A]n alternative, perhaps counterintuitive but more plausible argument [is] that low food prices in fact are a fundamental cause of global poverty.”
“[T]here’s no such thing as ‘an inexorable economic logic’, there are just political games with winners and losers – a point the old George Monbiot once understood.”